Texans Christmas presents: Best holiday wishes for DeShaun Watson and Jolly Ol’ Nick Caserio?

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HOUSTON — The holidays are here and the Houston Texans prepare for the return of the jolly ole Saint Nick. This, plus the arrival of Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at home.

Sitting at 3-11, Houston hopes to end the season on a high note. Looking for centerpieces, stability in certain positions and building towards the future? That could be just as desired as a stretch win.

Texans general manager Nick Caserio — “Jolly Ol’ St. Nick,” for our purposes — his wish list. And we have ours.

1. A good commercial return for QB Deshaun Watson

Although shelved, Deshaun Watson trade rumors will soon begin to heat up once the regular season is over. The Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins appear to be the first to land the disgruntled quarterback from the Texans. A report says the Cleveland Browns could also be in play for Watson; here we explain why this is unlikely to happen.

Caserio needs to hold firm on his asking price. A minimum of three first-round picks, plus several mid-round picks must arrive under the NRG stadium tree.

2. QB Davis Mills Consistency

Mills, the team’s third-round pick from April, always a “maybe” about starting in 2022. The Texans want to see more before giving the rookie the keys to the attack.

In home games, Mills looked steady passing, finishing with three 300-yard games and throwing seven touchdowns against one interception. Last week, in a 30-16 win over Jacksonville, he threw a pair of touchdowns at receiver brandin cooksbut threw an interception in the third quarter.

Games like the ones against the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks could give Houston a clearer answer on Mills’ advantages.

3. Stability in the racing game

Houston currently ranks dead last among all teams this season on the ground, averaging 3.2 yards per carry and less than 80 yards per game. The Texans’ leader is still Mark Ingram, who was traded to New Orleans at the deadline for a late-round selection.

The Texans will have several names to watch in free agency, including Denver’s Melvin Gordon’s James Conner and Tampa Bay’s Leonard Fournette. The 2022 NFL Draft also includes Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker, Iowa State’s Breece Hall and Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller, all of whom could be in play on Day 2.

4. A young compliment to DE Jonathan Greenard

Greenard’s team-leading eight sacks are more than enough to solidify his status as a cornerstone of the franchise. All the others? Not really. Houston could see veteran defensive end Jacob Martin walk into free agency, leaving only Jordan Jenkins with quality experience on the roster.

Houston has been linked to both Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson as foreground selections. Thibodeaux offers more against the run, but Hutchinson is a top passer who draws comparisons to JJ Watt.

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Later names like San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas, Ole Miss’s Sam Williams and Ohio State’s Zach Harrison could also be options if Houston goes a different direction in the first round.

5. Another 1K season for WR Brandin Cooks

The Texans offense doesn’t have much to cheer about going into the New Year. Seeing the Cooks go past another 1,000 yard season is something all eyes should be on every Sunday he plays.

The cooks, 28, just need 55 meters more to mark his sixth 1,000-yard season since entering the league. One of the most consistent weapons, it would also be the second time in his career that he topped the scorer on the same team, having done so in 2015-16 with the New Orleans Saints. (Unfortunately, the numbers for the cooks aren’t happening this week against the chargers.)

6. A touchdown for rookie WR Nico Collins

Caserio traded several future draft picks to the Carolina Panthers to return in the third round to select Collins. The numbers may not show it, but the man from Michigan did a nice target n°2 opposite Cooks this season.

Collins is currently averaging 12.2 yards per reception and has improved as a road runner, according to offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. The team tried to give him the opportunity to score his first touchdownbut misadventures harmed his chances.

With Kitchen against the Chargers, this may be the week Collins takes control as a target.

Could a touchdown from Mills to Collins become a common theme in the organization’s future?

7. More reps for LB Garret Wallow

Houston is looking for showpieces. Every rookie selected by Caserio should see their reps increase, including the TCU linebacker.

wallow does his first career start against Jacksonville and impressed. He recorded 11 total tackles, two pressures, a tackle for loss and a sack against Trevor Lawrence.

Kamu Grugier-Hill should be offered an extension before becoming a free agent. Could Wallow show enough in the last three games to prove he deserves one of the other starting roles? With more reps, he would definitely get his chance.

8. An upset victory

How can you prove to the fans that the team is improving? Beating a playoff team is a good place to start.

Barring a push from the Lions or Jaguars, Houston likely won’t be in contention for the No. 1 pick. At this point, finding a way to beat the Chargers, 49ers or Titans would at least prove the team is on the rise.

If the season were to end today, Houston’s three remaining opponents would be in the playoffs. A spoiler role to ruin someone else’s Christmas? It’s on the list.

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