2017 Season Previews: Houston Texans

The Texans think they need one thing to be a Super Bowl team, a QB. They might be right here, as they were 29th in points and 29th in Passing Yards. They were able to compete with the number 1 defense and the 8th best rushing attack.

Offense: I love me some DeShaun Watson. Even as a UNC fan, I thought he was going to be special. Tom Savage is supposed to be the starter, and Brandon Weeden the backup as Watson learns. No. JJ Watt is on year 7 and has already made one trip to the IR for two surguries. To think he’s got another decade in him at the way he plays football is a mistake. I think Watson is the number 2 guy coming out of training camp and starts at Cleveland Oct 15th, that way they have the bye week to work on things before going to Seattle to let him get his confidence rocked so they can see what they have under the helmet.
The receiving corps is a bit sneaky, but whomever is QB has to get the ball in DeAndre Hopkins hands more. 78 catches is way too low for that much talent. Braxton Miller got hurt, and Will Fuller has a case of the drops. If they can improve, this could get interesting. CJ Fiedorowicz could end up being one of the better TE’s in the division.
The Texans have a fairly good thing going, draft a RB in the middle rounds and try and strike gold. Lamar Miller has been a find since coming over, but they have to start limiting his carries as he wears down. I think this years third rounder D’Onta Foreman takes over late in the year and becomes a tandem back quickly.
The offensive line is a bit of a question mark. Duane Brown is a star, and Nick Martin is expected to be a day 1 starter. The rest of the line goes from decent to downright crappy. The Texans did drop 2 draft picks into this unit, and would love for one of them to strike. I don’t think Watson is going to have to learn pocket passing day one, as his line in Clemson might have been better protecting him than this one.

Defense: I give you the top defense in the NFL, and ADD a motivated JJ Watt. Actually, I just add Watt, the motivation is a given. Jadeveon Clowney has not lived up to his top overall pick, but he is getting closer to that goal as he made the Pro-Bowl and had 6 sacks. Vince Wilfork not coming back is going to hurt, but DJ Reader is huge and has good feet. His fellow Clemson product Carlos Watkins might also swipe some time here on passing downs.
Brian Cushing leads the second group, and this group has stayed intact from last year. Whitney Mercilus might have the most talent, and meshes well with Cushing on the inside. My personal favorite is Brennan Scarlett who came in undrafted and just out played everyone looking to replace him. Not the most talented, but is rarely out of position.
The secondary is what the team relied on last year, but they had some major turnover, as #1 corner AJ Bouye went to Jacksonville, and Quinten Demps went to the Bears. Both will be missed, but if they get Kevin Johnson back at 100% then they have a #1 corner back.

Special Teams: Nick Novak is one of the better kickers in the NFL, and Shane Lecher could be the best punter in the game. The Texans do need to get some different bodies to handle returns, as Tyler Evern has fumbleitis. The coverage units need work.

Overall: This really comes down to the line. If they can block, the Texans win the South and no one wants to play them, and they will be right there with the Raiders as a second tier AFC contender.
I give them 4 wins in the division, since they have Indy 2 weeks into the Watson career, and 2 wins vs the AFC North, and 2 wins vs the NFC West. Bonus games vs NE and KC is going to give them a win (you pick whom) 9-7, but considering they are going to have a rookie starter, no one will want to see them late- and that Monday Night game vs Pitt is going to be fun.

Three Questions

1. When will Watson start, if he does, this year?

Joe: Sometime after the half way point depending if they are above .500 or not with Tom Savage at the helm. If they are a sub .500 team expect to see more and more of Watson. If they are over .500 and possibly in the playoff hunt with Savage doing what he does best… managing the game well… then only expect to see Watson late in games that have already been decided to get some game experience

Dan: I think they’ll likely start Watson early this season. You’ll see him definitely by mid-season, with Tom Savage getting the reins to begin the season.

David: See my season preview where I pick the week 🙂

2. Does JJ Watt need a title to put himself on the LT plane?

Joe: Let’s go to  he stats…

Lawrence Taylor (13 NFL seasons): 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards, 8 first-team All-Pro nods, 10 Pro Bowls, 1 Most Valuable Players award, 2 SB wins.

J.J. Watts (5 NFL seasons): 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards, 4 first-team All-Pro nods, 4 Pro Bowls.

Watt is capable of matching Taylor and even surpassing him in several of those categories.

DPOY might be the easiest for him to do… if he continues playing at his current level and stays healthy. He should also surpass Taylor in the All Pro and Pro Bowl selections, again if he stays healthy.

That MVP award is probably a no go. A defensive player needs to really put up just about a career year to take that award away from an offensive player… QB or RB. Only Taylor and Alan Page as far as I recall have ever done it.

That leaves being on a SB winner. I don’t think he needs to get a ring to be talked about on LT’s level but  I do think he needs to have some playoffs where he is the talk of the league and preferably have at least one SB where he dominates.  Even if his team misses the mark.

If he can do all that, then yeah, he gets to be in the conversation.

Dan: No, I don’t think so. Watt has proven what he is worth with his on-field ability. He is just one man, and he plays defensive end. He’s not going to win the Texans a title just solely by himself. So, no, I don’t think a title will make him greater than what he really is. He’s already going to be a Hall of Famer and one of the best defensive ends to play, so a title won’t make a difference, especially to me.

David: I actually think that if he has 5 more years like his first four, he overtakes him. Joe has already gone over the stats, and if Clowney can be his Carl Banks, then it’s possible he gets that needed postseason success.

3. Is QB the only thing holding the Texans back from contending?

Joe: Most prediction I have seen say the Texans will be right around .500 this season. If everything else is even as far as the offense and defense is considered, then most likely, yes… an improvement at QB will put them on the road to be a yearly entry in the playoffs.

Dan: Yes, it is. The quarterback position was the reason that the Texans didn’t make it to the AFC Championship Game last season and if they had a Tom Brady or a Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan, they definitely would’ve made a push to make the Super Bowl over New England. This team is good, but they need a franchise quarterback.

David: I think so. A better running game would be another option, but I do think that QB is the biggest issue they have, and if Watson is the QB, that whole is filled.

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