HOUSTON — Quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s solid debut for Houston on Sunday helped the Texans overcome the absence of Deshaun Watson and start the season with a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Now the Texans will look to improve before a much bigger test this week when they travel to play the Cleveland Browns.

Taylor is getting another chance to start this year after he started only one game for the Chargers last season before being sidelined when a team doctor accidentally punctured his lung when giving a painkilling injection for a rib injury. By the time he recovered, he had lost his starting job to Justin Herbert.

This year, with Watson on the Texans’ roster but not playing after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging sexual assault or harassment, Taylor has stepped in to steady the Texans as they try to bounce back from a 4-12 season.

His 291 yards passing in Sunday’s 37-21 win were his most since throwing for 329 yards on Dec. 24, 2016 for Buffalo against Miami.

“He’s a great leader and he makes plays,” receiver Brandin Cooks said.

Taylor threw two touchdown passes and didn’t have a turnover to help David Culley get a win in his head coaching debut.

“It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but the effort, the focus and the execution was there in all three phases,” Taylor said. “It’s something to build off of and we’ll continue to keep working to get better.”

What’s working

The Texans had 160 yards rushing, which ranked fourth in the NFL in Week 1 entering Monday night’s game. It’s a huge improvement from last season when Houston was 31st in the league by averaging 91.6 yards rushing a game. The Texans added Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay in the offseason, and both players had touchdowns Sunday to help in the win.

Ingram started and led the team with 85 yards rushing, and Lindsay added 25 yards on the ground.

“We had a lot of good runs and then there’s some runs that weren’t as clean, and I think we can improve and learn from it and grow from it,” Ingram said.

What needs help

The Texans took advantage of rookie mistakes by Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence to get some takeaways, but the No. 1 overall draft pick still managed to throw for 332 yards. Houston traded top cornerback Bradley Roby to the Saints last week and will need some of its young players to step up moving forward to shore up the secondary heading into this week’s game against Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and his strong receiving corps.

Stock rising

Wide receiver Danny Amendola had five receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown Sunday. The 35-year-old who won two Super Bowls with New England signed with the Texans last Wednesday, giving him a job for the first time since his contract with the Lions ended after last season.

Stock falling

Running back David Johnson, the Texans starter in 2020, had just three carries Sunday as Houston relied on Ingram to power the running game.


Defensive tackle Vincent Taylor has an ankle injury and visited a doctor Monday. Culley said he’d know more about the severity of the injury later this week. Wide receiver Anthony Miller was inactive Sunday after injuring his shoulder in the first preseason game, but Culley said he expects him to play this week.

Key number

3 — The Texans lead the NFL after grabbing three interceptions Sunday. They had the same number of interceptions all last season.

Next steps

After a successful debut, Culley believes sticking with their most important principles will lead to continued success for the Texans.

“We’ve always preached about getting turnovers. We got three,” he said. “On offense, we all know the big thing is us taking care of the ball. We took care of the ball. Basically, that’s our formula. As long as we’re attacking that formula, things are going to be all right.”