It's the first week of June, and while we await the start of training camp in late July, I bet you have been wondering what is in store for your Houston Texans this season with so many roster changes going into 2015. Finding ways to improve the talent on the roster during the offseason is usually a key element in finding success in this highly competitive league where a single play can make the difference between winning and losing a game. Indeed, winning one more game last year would have put your Texans in the playoffs!
So how did Houston do this offseason? Well, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, the Texans were among the best in the NFL when you consider the players they added to the roster for 2015.
Houston came in fourth behind the Jets, Dolphins, and Eagles, with the free agent acquisitions of Vince Wilfork, Brian Hoyer, and Rahim Moore. NFL.com’s senior analyst Gil Brandt, who ranked some of the top teams and their offseasons this week, likes what the Texans have done to solidify their team.
Bill O'Brien's squad -- which won nine games with three starting quarterbacks in 2014 -- has talent," Brandt said. "Signing Hoyer, who I expect to beat out Ryan Mallett for the top job, will go a long way toward stabilizing the position and should help Houston reach double digits in wins this season. O'Brien coached Hoyer in New England and knows how to get the most out of him, especially with a promising rookie (Strong) joining rising youngster DeAndre Hopkins on the receiving corps.
"Re-signing Derek Newton, one of the more underrated right tackles in the NFL, was key, as Newton is a good run-blocker and pass protector."
Houston’s 2015 draft class also played a part in their offseason accolades.
"First-round pick Kevin Johnson (cornerback) and second-round pick Benardrick McKinney (linebacker) are both capable of starting; Johnson, who can cover and play the run, has Pro Bowl potential, while McKinney brings size and competitiveness," Brandt said. "I also like sixth-round pick Reshard Cliett (linebacker), who should be a great addition to the special teams unit."
Notwithstanding Brandt's take on Hoyer over Mallett, I agree with much of this. Let's face it--Hoyer has a body of work that does not indicate he'll reach a higher ceiling as a quarterback. I would put Hoyer in the Ryan Fitzpatrick or Trent Dilfer category of "average." The 2000 Baltimore Ravens were able to win a championship with Dilfer under center, thanks to a historic defense that shut down opponents, but I don't see that formula working today. One could argue that the Seahawks accomplished that feat a couple of years ago with a stifling defense and strong running game, but I would argue that Russell Wilson is clearly better than Hoyer or the comparative Fitzy-Dilfer benchmark. I'm very bullish that the Texans will have an outstanding defense this year, but they need markedly improved performance from the quarterback position; I don't see Hoyer providing that in 2015.
If the Texans wheel Brian Hoyer out as the starter for 2015, I readily admit that my expectations for this season will be tempered. We may not know what we can truly get from starting Ryan Mallett all season, but there's at least a chance that he has a higher ceiling than what we know we'll get from Hoyer. I'd prefer to risk finding out what Mallett's ceiling is, and to see if he's the future franchise quarterback for the Texans, then to muddle along with mediocrity.
Top 3 Additions
My favorite upgrades to the roster this offfseason are Rahim Moore, Vince Wilfork and Kevin Johnson. I wanted the Texans to pick Rahim Moore in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft instead of Brooks Reed, and I think we'll see some excitement in the backfield this year as a result of finally getting him on the team. Wilfork should finally satiate the nose tackle lust we have suffered through for many years, and his veteran presence on the field and in the locker room will help this young squad develop quickly. Kevin Johnson was an excellent draft pick in the middle of the first round and should become our top corner in the next few years once he adapts to the NFL.
So how do you feel about the offseason so far? Share your thoughts in the comments below.