After resigning Deshaun Watson, Houston has firmly solidified they QB position for years to come. Watson is an established dual-threat QB who has the intangibles and playmaking ability to keep his team in games. Furthermore, he excels in the clutch and often excels despite Houston’s offensive woes. Watson still needs to improve his pocket presence and learn to throw the ball quicker. However, in a league that is increasingly favoring mobile QBs, Houston has a gem with Watson.
Depth is the best aspect of Houston’s RB corps. With David Johnson and Duke Johnson on the field, Bill O’Brien can effectively incorporate a split back-formation. Moreover, both Johnson’s compliment each other reasonably well with David as the pure rusher and Duke as a quality receiving option. However, David’s injury issues limit his ceiling for Houston. Furthermore, Duke has never been a prolific RB. Therefore, this a decent backfield where neither RB has 1,000+ total yards.
Protection & Blocking
Despite Houston's notorious history with offensive line issues, their OL has some positive aspects. For instance, all 5 of Houston's starters from last season are returning. Given that OL is a unit built upon cohesion, this should facilitate stability. This stability will most likely be apparent in pass protection since they made great strides with Laremy Tunsil. Although, according to PFF, the Texans run blocking must improve to assist David and Duke Johnson.
After trading De’Andre Hopkins this off-season, this receiving corps lost a phenomenal star who excels with hauling in contested catches. To counteract this loss, the Texans acquired Brandin Cooks from the Rams. Therefore, Houston will open the season with lots of depth with Cooks, Will Fuller V, and Kenny Stills. Nevertheless, this is a corps filled with deep-threats that are fast but not versatile. Fortunately, TE Darren Fells will add a decent safety valve for Watson. However, Fells will most
Skills Analysis Notes
Heading into Thursday's opener, Houston's best asset on offense is their speed. With Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills, and Will Fuller at the helm, secondaries are going to have their hands full containing the Texans. With Deshaun Watson's arm talent and mobility, Houston will be able to capitalize on their speed to make big plays and be productive. However, they will likely encounter inconsistency for various reasons, such as their recent struggle to run the ball. Plus, Houston's offense is still shaky when it comes to protecting Watson, who regularly tends to hold the ball too long. Therefore, you can expect an above-average offensive unit that suffers a couple of lapses next season.
JJ Watt is the only reason this defensive line is rated this high. Outside of Watt, Houston has failed to bolster this unit. Despite a great year from DJ Reader, who served as a beast along the interior, Houston decided to let him depart in free agency. Therefore, Houston is left with multiple questions at this position.
Unlike most NFL teams, Houston's defense is anchored by it's LB corps. The three-headed monster of Mercilus, McKinney, and Cunningham is a versatile group that can cover receivers, rush the passer, and stop the run.
This positional group is the most mysterious unit of the Houston Texans. When analyzing their cornerbacks, both Bradley Roby and Vernon Hargreaves have been inconsistent throughout their careers. While Texans will enjoy the playmaking ability of safety Justin Reid, he might be their best coverage option.
Controlling Field Position
Skills Analysis Notes
Overall, this defense contains multiple holes that will plague them throughout the season. For instance, their defensive line lacks the depth necessary to stop the run or pass consistently. Additionally, their cornerbacks lack reliable coverage skills needed to lock down star wideouts. They will be assisted by star play from JJ Watt and Justin Reid, who will likely create turnovers and harass the passer on occasions. Likewise, their LB corps will likely be decent enough to force three and outs at times and control field position. However, this unit will still probably be a liability compared to their offense.
Special Teams and Coaching
Overall Coaching / School Analysis
In recent years, the football community has been highly critical of Bill O'Brien's coaching. Much of the criticism has pertained to his questionable decision making and play calling in crucial situations. Another area of concern that often gets overlooked is O'Brien's inability to make mid-season adjustments. For instance, he has struggled to lessen the severity of holes at positions such as OL. Additionally, he has failed to fix his QB's issues when it comes to pocket presence, which signals that he struggles to develop players. However, O'Brien has been able to lead his team to the playoffs consistently, which indicates that he has been at least semi-effective. Nevertheless, he will need to mitigate bad decisions if he seeks to ever go far in the playoffs.
There is much to rave about this Houston Texans team. This praise starts with their talented franchise QB, Deshaun Watson, who has proven that he is a top ten passer who can excel as a passer and a runner. He will surely miss the presence of De'Andre Hopkins, who could beat the tightest NFL coverage. Nevertheless, he will still have quality receiving corps that will keep Houston competitive in the AFC South. However, they could miss the playoffs if they are unable to mitigate the loss of many departing players.
Last season, did the team
meet your expectations?
In my opinion, Houston lost too much talent to surpass last year's results. Without Hopkins, Watson lacks a complete wideout. While the trio of Cooks, Fuller, and Stills, none of them are known as possession receivers. Additionally, all of them have struggled to remain healthy throughout their careers. Therefore, O'Brien will be challenged to create an explosive scheme that either maximizes the skill set of his receivers or their play-making abilities. Given his inability to develop the majority of his players, the latter is more likely.
Moreover, Houston's defense is a huge liability, as well. Despite stars like JJ Watt and Justin Reid, this unit lacks depth at the DT and CB positions in a league that favors passing the ball. This issue will be more pronounced than ever with the Colts and Titans upgrading at the QB position. Therefore, Houston is in a considerable position to regress from a standings perspective. However, Deshaun Watson's talent will keep them in playoff contention for the foreseeable future.