Givanni Damico | August 18th, 2019
The Houston Texans had the second-best season record-wise since the franchise was created in 2002, going 11-5. Deshaun Watson proved a lot of doubters wrong last year when he showed that he could be effective without throwing 10+ interceptions. He took 62 sacks last year which didn’t help their cause. Whether or not the Texans’ offensive line can hold up this year could make or break their playoff run and how far they can go.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team previews here.
Houston had one clear focus during the offseason: the secondary. The Texans were 28th in the league in passing yards allowed with 4,167 last season. Justin Reid and Tyrann Mathieu were above-average safeties last year, but with the loss of Matthieu, Houston had to make a move to fill the void. They signed Tashaun Gipson, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s no honey badger, but he should be able to get the job done. At cornerback, Houston signed Bradley Roby, Briean Boddy-Calhoun (who might play safety), and drafted Lonnie Johnson out of Kentucky. These aren’t huge moves but it’s an improvement from last season. When it came to improving the offensive line, the Texans signed Matt Kalil in free agency (who isn’t too much of an improvement) and drafted Tytus Howard out of Alabama State at tackle. This Texans’ team is very comparable to the 2018 squad. Will it be enough to lead them to a Super Bowl, though?
Next Year’s Offense
The Texans’ offense, outside of the offensive line, is quite strong with plenty of weapons. Watson showed plenty of improvement from year one to year two and will only get better in year three. DeAndre Hopkins is finally getting the respect he deserves as one of the best receivers in football. Not to mention that Houston brings back Lamar Miller, who quietly ran for 973 yards last year. Miller flies under the radar as a very quality running back. They also have D’Onta Foreman and rookie Karan Higdon to back him up. If Watson can get some protection upfront and have time to throw, they could be a top offense in football in 2019.
Next Year’s Defense
The Texan’s front-seven is looking very strong right now. If Jadeveon Clowney remains with the team, they should be a force to be reckoned with. J.J. Watt recorded 16 sacks last year as he continues his dominance as one of the best pass-rushers while Clowney had nine sacks in 15 games. D.J. Reader is a good run-stuffer up the middle as well. He doesn’t get to the quarterback very often, but when he has Watt and Clowney playing alongside him, he doesn’t need to.
Zach Cunningham led the team in tackles with 107 last year while also forcing two fumbles and recording an interception. Benardrick McKinney was a Pro-Bowler last year, recording 105 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a pick. Whitney Mercilus and Brennan Scarlett were useful to the team last year as well. Mercilus starts in some sets while Scarlett is a good rotational Piece. The secondary is still a bit weak, but it’s a slight improvement from last year.
53-Man Roster Prediction
Quarterback (3): Deshaun Watson, A.J. McCarron, Joe Webb
No real debate here. Watson is QB1 with McCarron as a proven backup quarterback and Joe Webb as a solid special teams guy.
Running Back (3): Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman, Karan Higdon
Miller is still the man in Houston, but Foreman should have a larger role this year. If he’s healthy, he’ll be a great compliment to Miller. Watch out for Higdon, too. He might not make his mark this year, but he has a great future ahead of him.
Wide Receiver (6): DeAndre Hopkins, Keke Coutee, Will Fuller, DeAndre Carter, Johnnie Dixon, Vyncint Smith
Houston didn’t lose any major pieces at wide receiver. Hopkins, Coutee, and Fuller will be the main three guys with Carter having a role in pass-catching as well as on special teams. Johnnie Dixon proved himself useful at Ohio State and should be useful on special teams at the very least. Smith will just provide depth for a roster that lacks it at wide receiver.
Tight End (3): Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, Kahale Warring
Akins and Thomas both had solid seasons for late-round draft picks, each recording over 200 yards receiving. Kahale Warring flew under the radar in college and the Texans got a steal with him. He is a near-lock to make the team.
Offensive Line (10): Seantrel Henderson, Zach Fulton, Greg Mancz, Nick Martin, Julie’n Davenport, Matt Kalil, Martinas Rankin, Senio Kelemete, Tytus Howard, Max Scharping
Looking at this list, you’re probably saying “who on Earth are these guys?”. Well, they may not be big names like Zack Martin, but overall, this line is an upgrade from last year. As long as they do a better job blocking for DeShaun Watson than last year’s line did, this could be a very lethal offense.
Defensive Line (7): J.J. Watt, D.J. Reader, Angelo Blackson, Carlos Watkins, Charles Omenihu, Brandon Dunn, Albert Huggins
Watt is obviously the big name on the Texans’ defense, but they have solid run-stuffing from Reader as well. Blackson, Watkins, and Dunn are veterans who will provide a good rotational role on this team while Omenihu is a rookie who has a chance to be a diamond in the rough.
I can’t be sure that Clowney will still be with the team when the season starts, but for the time being, he’s the best edge rusher on the team. Mercilus is a solid player who can be a good veteran to look up to for young guys like Davin Bellamy and Brennan Scarlett. Duke Ejiofor is currently on the IR, but the second-year edge rusher from Wake Forest will resume his role once he recovers from injury.
Linebackers (4): Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham, Dylan Cole, Peter Kalambayi
McKinney made his first Pro Bowl last year after he showed star-potential. He is a great tackler with the ability to get to the quarterback as well. Cunningham had a very impressive sophomore campaign and showed that he could be reliable in pass coverage. He’s very athletic and is a natural playmaker. Cole hasn’t been a starter before, but he’s played well off of the bench in his first two years. He’s definitely proven himself enough to make the team.
Cornerbacks (6): Johnathan Joseph, Aaron Colvin, Bradley Roby, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Lonnie Johnson, Johnson Bademosi
Veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph is back for another year and he still has game. He also provides someone for rookie Lonnie Johnson, whose role this year will be determined on how the rest of the preseason goes, to look up to. Colvin is a solid player at best, but he’s a body to throw out there who can cover the slot if need be. Roby was a great signing for the Texans and will be a solid addition at nickel cornerback. Boddy-Calhoun can play safety and corner at a pretty high level, while Bademosi is a veteran who has proven he deserves to be on this team as a depth cornerback.
Safeties (4): Justin Reid, Jahleel Addae, Tashaun Gipson, A.J. Moore
Reid had a very solid rookie season last year and should find himself as the starting free safety come week one. Addae will back him up, but he should still be on the field for a substantial amount of time given his versatility. Gipson played with Jacksonville for three years and proved his ability to be a viable starter at strong safety. He was a big pick-up for the Texans, especially after how brutal their secondary was last year. Moore had a solid year last season and could be useful on special teams.
Special Teams (3): Ka’imi Fairbairn, Bryan Anger, Jon Weeks
Fairbairn was my kicker in fantasy last year and let’s just say that I have absolutely no regrets. He was fantastic last year and is guaranteed to make the team. Anger should edge Trevor Daniel out at punter, although I do see Daniel getting picked up by someone else. If Daniel wins the competition, Anger will get picked up by someone else.
It’ll be tough for the Texans to edge the Colts out for division winner, but they certainly have the offensive firepower to do it. The floor for the Texans is 9-7, while the ceiling is 12-4. I’m very intrigued to see how the offensive line holds up for Watson as well as how the secondary does. Those are the key parts of the team that need to improve from last year.
Record Prediction: 10-6
Wins: vs. JAX, vs. CAR, vs. ATL, @IND, vs. OAK, at JAX, at BAL, vs. DEN, @TB, vs. TEN
Losses: @NO, @LAC, @KC, vs. IND, vs. NE, at TEN
Questions and comments?
Follow Us on Twitter @thescorecrow
Follow Us on Reddit at u/TheScorecrow
Follow Us on Facebook at The Scorecrow
Follow Us on Instagram at The Scorecrow
Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow Givanni Damico on Twitter @giodamico15
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images