The Houston Texans had a rough 2021 season. They finished 4-13 and in third place in the AFC South and fired their coach after only one year. They were one of the most forgotten teams all year and struggled to put together full games all season. However, they had several standout players, namely Brandin Cooks and Kamu Grugier-Hill, who deserve recognition for their performance this season. The Texans had a shallow draft class, but they still have some guys who have a lot of potential. The Texans have roughly $20 million in cap space, so it’s unlikely they’ll improve a whole lot for next season. But still, they did way better than many people expected them to, and it was mostly because of the commendable seasons for the players below.
Houston Texans 2021 Season Team Awards
Most Valuable Player + Offensive Player of the Year: Brandin Cooks
Brandin Cooks was one of the only bright spots for the Texans this year. He led Houston in receptions, yards (both receiving and scrimmage), and touchdowns. On the year, Cooks had 90 receptions for 1037 yards and six touchdowns. Cooks had nearly 450 more yards than the next closest player. He is the clear offensive player of the year for Houston, and also deserves the title of team MVP.
Cooks had four 100-yard performances on the year and had seven games with 75 yards or more. He was an exceptional deep threat for Tyrod Taylor and rookie quarterback Davis Mills after Taylor’s season was over. Cooks also had seven games in which he surpassed 10 or more receiving targets. He was the clear number one receiver for the Texans and rewarded them with an outstanding 1000+ yard performance on the year.
This wasn’t Cooks’ first 1000+ yard season, either. Over his eight-year career, Cooks has had five seasons in which he reached that mark. He is one of the most underrated receivers in the league, and he deserves so much more respect and recognition than he gets. It is also important to note that half (45) of Cooks’ 90 receptions went for first downs or touchdowns. He fought every game for the Texans and is clearly both the Offensive Player of the Year and the MVP for Houston in 2021.
Defensive Player of the Year: Kamu Grugier-Hill
The Texans Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 was Kamu Grugier-Hill. Grugier-Hill had 108 tackles on the year (most on the team) and had 13 tackles for loss (also team lead). He also had three sacks on the year. He didn’t have more sacks because he played more of a pass-coverage role. Speaking of that, Grugier-Hill had three pass deflections and one interception while in coverage. That interception was returned for 82 yards.
Grugier-Hill had the best overall season out of any Texans defensive players. He did not have the most sacks or the most interceptions, but his ability to get around the field and make tackles helped Houston greatly. His 71 solo tackles led the team. Grugier-Hill also had two forced fumbles on the year. Although his stats may not show it, his impact in the passing game and the run stop boosted the Texans defense greatly in 2021.
Comeback Player of the Year: Tyrod Taylor
The Houston Texans player most deserving of the Comeback Player of the Year award is Tyrod Taylor. Although the stats may not show it, Taylor fought to come back this season after a freak injury sidelined him last year. In the six games that Taylor started, he threw for 966 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions along with three rushing touchdowns. Taylor got hurt in Week 2 and came back later in the season, but had no success. He was benched for Davis Mills in Week 13 and never played again this season.
The fact that Taylor was able to come back and play this year after his devastating injury last year makes him worthy enough to earn the Comeback Player of the Year. Taylor had his lung accidentally punctured by the Los Angeles Chargers team doctor while receiving an anti-pain injection before a game. Taylor was sidelined for the rest of the year. Because he was able to overcome such an unlikely injury and play decently for a few weeks, he is deserving of the Texans Comeback Player of the Year in 2021.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Davis Mills
Mills was one of three offensive rookies drafted by Houston this year. He was, without a doubt, the best offensive rookie this season for the Texans. Mills played in 13 games this season, starting in 11 of them. Over that span, Mills threw for 2,664 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Mills filled in for Tyrod Taylor when he was injured, and eventually took over the starting role after Taylor started slowing down.
Mills had four 300+ yard games this season (312 in Week 5, 310 in Week 8, 331 in Week 14, and 301 in Week 18). In those four games, he threw nine touchdowns as opposed to just one interception. When the Texans let him play, he simply did well. His record as a quarterback was 2-9, but he was always fighting for Houston. Mills finished the year with a 67 percent completion percentage and an 88.8 passer rating.
Mills’ only competition for Offensive Rookie of the Year was receiver Nico Hollins and tight end Brevin Jordan. Neither of those two players did anything significant this season. In fact, Mills was one of the better (likely top two or three) rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. He is well-deserving of this award this season and has a bright future as the leader for the Texans unless Deshaun Watson comes back.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Garret Wallow
The Texans did not have a large draft class in 2021; in fact, they only had five picks in the draft last year. They took three offensive players and two defensive players. Roy Lopez, a defensive tackle out of Arizona, and Garret Wallow, a linebacker out of TCU, were the two defensive selections for Houston. Despite Wallow playing in just seven games this season, he is deserving of the defensive rookie of the year award in 2021.
Wallow finished the season with 23 total tackles (15 solo, eight assisted) and one sack. However, he only played in seven games after being injured for most of the year. He averaged roughly 3.3 tackles per game and had two tackles for loss on the year. He didn’t get much playing time early in the year, but in Week 15, he played 94 percent of Houston’s defensive snaps. Wallow had his best game of the year during that matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He tallied 11 tackles on the day, had one sack and one tackle for loss, and one quarterback hit. He really helped the Texans in that game and helped lead them to one of their four wins on the season.
Although Wallow didn’t make a large impact, he was on pace to have a better season than fellow rookie Roy Lopez. Had Wallow not been injured, he probably would have made a big impact for the Texans and their weaker front seven. With his impact in the run game in his limited play, Wallow is deserving of the Houston Texans defensive rookie of the year award.
Most Improved Player: Jonathan Greenard
The Houston Texans most improved player in 2021 is Jonathan Greenard. Greenard, a rookie out of Florida drafted in 2020, had a much better sophomore season. Greenard finished with 33 tackles on the year and was also Houston’s sacks leader with eight. He also had four pass deflections, two forced fumbles, nine tackles for loss, and 12 quarterback hits. He was a unit of his own for the Texans defensive line this year.
Greenard is the most improved player because of how much more of an impact he made in 2021 than in 2020. In his rookie season, Greenard had 19 total tackles, one sack, and two tackles for loss. It wasn’t a bad rookie season given he started only one game, but his stats improved a lot more in 2021. Greenard’s most impressive game was Houston’s Week 6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts when he tallied six tackles, two sacks, and two tackles for loss.
Embed from Getty Images