Not long ago, the Houston Texans were on the doorstep of the AFC Championship Game. The team led 24-7 against the Chiefs of Patrick Mahomes. That is still less than nineteen months ago. The collapse in the second quarter of that game foreshadowed the implosion of the entire franchise.
Star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was traded for next to nothing last year. This spring, another star player left the sinking ship: JJ Watt left for the Arizona Cardinals. The only big name left is Deshaun Watson. Not because the quarterback likes to play in Houston, but because his undesirable behavior towards a large number of female physiotherapists and masseuses has him facing a number of lawsuits. His trade request has not yet been granted. No one wants it until they know if they can draft it.
The Texans have been preparing for Watson’s departure, as Tyrod Taylor was signed in free agency. The quarterback was injured after a game with the LA Chargers last year and lost his starting spot to sensation Justin Herbert.
Taylor is the most important asset in free agency, but Mike Cannon was also brought in to strengthen the offensive line and give the playmaker a little more time to find a receiver. Phillip Lindsay also came over to Houston as an offensive backup. However, the question is how many snaps he will get, because he still has David Johnson and Mark Ingram in front of him.
Defensively, the Texans brought in two new starters, of which Shaq Lawson may well be the main reinforcement of the team. The defensive end came over from the Miami Dolphins on a trade. A deal that could work out well for the Texans for a change. Lawson will not be able to absorb the loss of JJ Watt, but unlike the other players in the defense, Lawson can be used against the pass and the rush.
The best way for a poorly performing team to improve is the draft. Unfortunately, the Texans here have had to deal with Bill O’Brien ‘s legacy and it wasn’t nice. Despite star receiver Hopkins being traded last year, the Texans had no picks in the first two rounds this year. These went to the Dolphins as part of the trade for LT Laremy Tunsil.
It was the third time in four years that the Texans had not had a pick in one of the first two rounds. After a few more trades from the new GM Nick Caserio, only five picks were left in the end. Caserio’s first choice was quarterback Davis Mills. Quite a surprising choice, despite the Watson situation. The team just had a temporary replacement in the house. With a dramatic season ahead, the Texans are almost assured of a high draft pick in the 2022 draft where they do have their pick in the first round.
Given the lack of talent, the Texans could have used their first pick to add players in a different position to the roster. Players who will be part of the team in the long run. Like Nico Collins, the wide receiver the Texans chose later in the third round. Especially with Randall Cobb ‘s trade to the Packers, there is a good chance that Collins will get a lot of playing time.
Whether Brevin Jordan will get that time remains to be seen. The tight end was expected to be selected around the third round, but dropped in the draft. With a pick in the fifth round, the Texans may have landed a steal. However, Jordan is the sixth tight end on the roster, so the rookie will be competing for playing time.
Offensively, for the Texans, it’s all about that one question: Will Watson come back to Houston with drooping legs and play or not? The rest of the roster has huge holes, but Watson has already shown that he can make something out of nothing. Although the Texans were a sinking ship last year, Watson continued to play at his own level and proved himself a top five quarterback. Regardless of his team’s record.
Should Watson decide to return, he will play an attack that is less good than last year. Will Fuller has left the squad and Houston has not really strengthened. The most important moves in free agency and the draft were getting quarterbacks. So players who are not on the field when Watson returns.
The rest of the attack is full of problems. Everyone was skeptical of David Johnson, as he came to Houston in Hopkins’ swap, but he still had a pretty solid season. It wasn’t good enough to take his plow by the hand, though; And that goes for the other playmakers too.
With Watson under center, the Texans still have hope that the attack can bring something. After all, Watson is a superstar who can decide matches on his own. Should Watson stand his ground and not play the season or still be traded by the Texans, then it will be a completely different story. With Taylor of Mills as quarterback, Houston has by far the worst offense in the National Football League (NFL).
The Texans have been busy these past few months. GM Caserio has made 79 transactions from his appointment in January to the end of May. This resulted in 49 new players for the club, of which 22 in the defense. However, it is difficult to say that the actions of the new GM have really made the team better.
The defense is certainly a big problem. Watt was no longer the player he was in the past, but he remained an icon in the city and an asset to every defense. The team let him go for free to be able to play for a title in the twilight of his career. A nice gesture, but it didn’t work for Houston.
And that while the defense was not good last year. According to Football Outsiders DVOA, the unit was the thirtieth in the NFL. One of the problems was the lack of interceptions. Only three passes from the enemy quarterbacks were intercepted. Only two other teams came to three interceptions or less. Incidentally, one of the Texan interceptions was still by Watt. To illustrate his loss again.
Shaq Lawson is a good defender and certainly a reinforcement for the Texans compared to the rest of their roster, but he’s no Watt. The only hope the Texans fans can have is that their new DC Lovie Smith will get more out of the players. It’s the only way the Texans defense won’t drop to 32nd place next season.
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The Texans are a worthy successor to the Jets and Browns in the list of worst-run franchises in the NFL. It’s a mess with the Texas squad, both on and off the field. The scandals surrounding Watson raise big question marks. Can he play next year? Or is he facing a (long) suspension? If he gets to play, is there a club that wants him? The price will certainly not be as high as was mentioned in January, so the Texans seem to be losing again here.
Houston won four games last season and that is great proof of how well Watson played. The rest of the roster is dramatic. That has only gotten worse this year. It is hoped that Caserio is mainly clearing rubble and that next year he will have time to really shape the team and show some policy, because that is not the case now.
The vicissitudes surrounding Watson make it difficult to make a good prediction for the team. Even with Watson, it seems unlikely that the team will be able to match last year’s four victories. Even now that the season is a week longer. This is partly because the Texans have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. David Culley, 65, had to wait years for his first chance to become the head coach of the NFL, but he is not to be envied.
Actually, there are only three games where the Texans have a good chance of winning. That is the home game against the Jaguars in week 1 and the two games against the Colts. They’ll probably have to do without quarterback Carson Wentz. The quality difference will be too great in the other matches and that is why the Texans seem to have no chance in advance.