The past year has not been kind at all to the Houston Texans. The blown 24-0 lead to the Chiefs in the 2020 Playoffs. The DeAndre Hopkins trade to Arizona. Cleaning house 4 games into the 2020 season. The departure of franchise icon J.J. Watt. The Deshaun Watson controversy. There’s a lot going on around this team, and seemingly none of them is positive. This team is starting its rebuild with a new front office and coach, and it could be a long road for them.
How The Houston Texans Got Here
Previous HC and general manager Bill O’Brien had been on the hot seat going into 2020. After starting the season 0-4, O’Brien was quickly shown the door, but not without drama. The Texans would go on to finish 4-12 despite a career year for QB Deshaun Watson. And this is where things really gets ugly in Houston.
In January, the Texans first made the hire of GM Nick Caserio, a former Patriots executive. Watson was reportedly upset with the Texans’ interview process. And on January 28, Watson would formally request a trade from Houston. A day later, former Ravens WR coach David Culley was hired, a hire that people don’t seem too high on. Then in March, the first sexual misconduct allegation is levied against Watson. Months later, over 20 women have come forward against Watson, and his NFL future, near and far, is in doubt.
Firstly, with no current idea of any punishment or trade for Watson, the quarterback spot is looking weak. The three QBs past Watson are Tyrod Taylor, Jeff Driskel, and 2021 third-round pick Davis Mills. Taylor is expected to start week 1. Secondly, there’s a logjam at the running back spot. David Johnson, sent to Houston in the DeAndre Hopkins trade last offseason, is currently listed as the third string RB. Philip Lindsay, Mark Ingram, and Rex Burkhead have all competing for touches in camp along with Johnson.
The WRs and TEs are rather mediocre. Brandin Cooks had a bounce back year in 2020, with over 1,100 yards and 6 TDs. Alongside him, Chris Conley and Keke Coutee are the expected starters at wide receiver. In addition. rookie Nico Collins and new acquisition Anthony Miller could see playing time as well. At tight end, Jordan Akins and Pharaoh Brown highlight what can be considered one of the worst TE groups in the league.
Outside of LT Laremy Tunsil, the offensive line is rather unspectacular. Tunsil, Max Scharping, Justin Britt, Justin McCray, and Tytus Howard are the projected starters. Caserio also acquired tackle Marcus Cannon from New England during the offseason.
The defense may have been the biggest culprit for poor season a year ago. The Houston Texans had the 24th pass defense, 27th in scoring, and dead last in defending the run. Additionally, DE J.J. Watt got his release from the team this offseason. Watt later signed with the Cardinals. Another change in this defense is the switch from the 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. Culley brought in former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith to coach up the defense.
With Watt gone, the D-line is now led another longtime Texan in Whitney Mercilus. The Texans traded for Shaq Lawson and signed Jordan Jenkins in hopes to bolster an anemic group. Zach Cunningham serves as the face of the linebacking group, and perhaps the defense as a whole. Cunningham is coming off a career year with 164 total tackles and three sacks.
The secondary has been the weak link of this defense for a few years now. Their pass defense has ranked in the bottom 10 for three years in a row. Bradley Roby returns as the CB1 after a PED suspension ended his season early. Fellow corners Terrance Mitchell and Desmond King II signed on this offseason. Justin Reid and Eric Murray is coming back as the safety duo for the upcoming season.
Outlook for the Houston Texans
In conclusion, the Houston Texans could be in for a rough season. And this situation is only going to get worse for it gets better. The Bill O’Brien era brought four playoff appearances. However, it also brought mismanagement of assets. For example, in the 2021 Draft, they didn’t have a single pick until the 3rd round. There’s also the questions and controversy around Deshaun Watson to grasp as well, with no conclusion in sight. Brace yourself, Texan fans. It’s going to be a long road.
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