Houston Texans: Lonnie Johnson Jr. should start opposite T.Y. Hilton

Houston Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Houston Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Houston Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr., who is a rookie, needs to start opposite T.Y.Hilton against the Colts. Why? Let’s take a look and find out.

The Houston Texans are still riding on Cloud Nine after being able to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, a powerhouse of the AFC, in an impressive 31-24 decision.  The national media is starting to talk about this team as a dark horse to supplant the Chiefs in the AFC standings and this nothing but good news to hear.

Time and again, the Houston Texans have continued to be the laughingstock of the NFL and that their 11-5 finish in 2018 was by accident and that the schedule favored them heavily.  I think this season was set forth to prove all of the naysayers wrong and it’s going to take winning the big games to ensure that the namesake of this team is in the same breath as the New England Patriots.

I’m sure that’s exactly what Bill O’Brien wants because nothing would make him happier than to be able to beat his facilitator, the great Bill Belichick for the first time in his career.  Bill has been so close to beating him in the past but if it wasn’t a botched play call late in the game in last season’s matchup, giving Tom Brady too much time to march up the field and take the game away from them, the narrative would’ve been different.

Obviously, you see how things have changed with play calls, especially with Tim Kelly being able to look under the hood of the offense more often than not as the team’s coordinator.  The decision to go for it on 4th-and-3 with about two minutes left in the game instead of having Ka’imi Fairbairn, who has struggled mightily as of late, goes to show how much trust they have in Deshaun Watson being able to get the job done.

And did he ever — the Houston Texans got the first down they needed — and then some with an extra five more than needed with a short pass to DeAndre Hopkins — and the Houston Texans walked out Week 6 at Arrowhead Stadium, which can be a hostile environment as winners.

They kept Patrick Mahomes off the field and that’s the most important thing when you’re trying to beat the Chiefs.  It’s a simple solution but it’s not always as easy to execute as planned but our team was able to carry through with the game plan wonderfully.

But anyway, it’s Week 7 and a new opponent is on deck with division-rival Indianapolis Colts — and Andrew Luck-less — on deck for the tomorrow afternoon.  Jacoby Brissett, as I expected, has been a formidable starter for the team and I’d expect things to stay that way moving forward.

I’ve always likened him to a Deshaun Watson-lite with his unique skillset — the exception is that the Houston Texans obviously have the real thing — and it will be a nice battle of the two quarterbacks for tomorrow.

Other than that matchup, the most important will be in regard to who will be covering T.Y. Hilton, a guy that has had a tremendous amount of success against the Texans.

Last season, including the playoffs, Hilton racked up 399 receiving yards against this team.  He luckily did not score a touchdown.  He was severely limited to just 85 yards in last season’s 21-7 debacle of an AFC Wild Card Game back in January, the last time these two teams have met.  Because the Colts made such a statement from the opening, there was really no need to use Hilton in the way he had been as the team never led in that game.

He was working Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson over during the season but the difference this season is that they have some reinforcements to help.

Bradley Roby would be obvious start against Hilton but he’s going to likely be out a while as he nurses a quite serious hamstring injury.  He hasn’t been placed on injured reserve because they think he will be healed quicker than a stay there but we’re likely not going to see him for the next couple of weeks at best.

With Joseph being suspect in covering T.Y., this leaves rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr., who has made some waves as of late as a prime candidate to cover Hilton.  It’s an order that the second-round bruiser out of Kentucky that can certainly fill and I’m positive that he’s feasting at this opportunity.

Although this was expected to be a season where he’d be able to learn the ropes, he had to have

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been thrown into the fray quickly because of the inconsistencies that we’re seeing in the secondary.

He’s already taken 279 snaps on the season which is 70 percent of the total snaps the defense has taken for 2019.  So to say Johnson’s presence doesn’t matter, you’d be fooling yourself.

Johnson has only given up 172 yards this season in coverage and quarterbacks have completed 15 of 25 total targets for a total of 60 percent.  That’s good enough if you ask me and the terrific thing is that he’s only giving up 6.9 yards per target which certainly means he’s not blowing the big ones.

He’s only given up one touchdown and is given up 11.5 yards per completion through all six games, including four starts so far.

This is why Johnson is the best man for the job and I think he’d excel wonderfully at the opportunity given to him.

Next. Deshaun Watson surges in the latest NFL MVP poll. dark

If you’ve had a chance to read about his story of how he got to the NFL, you should read about it because it’s nothing short of inspiring.  With all that this man has been through, he’s got no choice but to excel and not fail.  I think he’ll come through just fine tomorrow afternoon and I’m certainly hoping for the best.

Let’s beat the Colts — go Houston Texans!