Last summer when I looked forward to Christmas day, I anticipated a possible prelude to the AFC title game with the high-flying Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town to face our beloved Houston Texans. The implications of the game seemingly a predictor of who would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Well, so much for that…
What we did get was an exercise in imagination: what the Texans could look like.
If we removed the key injuries to J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, DeShaun Watson, Nick Martin, D.J. Reader, C.J. Fedorowicz and D’Onta Foreman my prognostication probably would have been true – and Pittsburgh would have gone back to Pennsyltukey with a big fat “L” in their stocking.
According to overthecap.com, Houston has the highest salary number tied to the Injured Reserve list. Granted, J.J. Watt makes more money than the average third world nation, but still, it’s nearly impossible to overcome that number of key injuries.
With that being said, the Texans can still dominate in 2018 and rule the AFC, if not the NFL.
While J.J. Watt will probably never again be the force of nature that catapulted him to the top of the NFL Mt Rushmore, Whitney Mercilus should return as destructive as he ever was, if not more so with a year to fully heal. Nick Martin and DeShaun Watson will turn the offense back into a Titan-Killer once more and D’Onta Foreman should keep defenses chasing him down for years to come.
But, any predictions of future returns are built not-so-solidly on foundations of insecurity.
Who will the head coach be? A lot of uncertainty swirls around Bill O’Brien. Will McNair extend his contract, since the disaster of 2017 is hardly a definite coaching fail?
Will Rick Smith still be around, and if so will he finally be able to build a solid offensive line? Will he bring enough talent to strengthen the defensive backfield? Can he accurately identify enough depth players to keep the Texans competitive if key injuries return?
What will happen with the draft? We’re assured a very high pick with the 4-5 win season –although that pick won’t occur until the third round (unless Rick pulls another rabbit out of his hat between now and Draft Day).
Are there any solid free agents heading to town in the off-season? Can Rick retain the key guys looking over the fence at greener pastures? Jonathan Joseph, Shane Lechler and a few others would certainly hurt to lose.
Can the NFL figure out how to properly officiate a game? How to properly identify a possible concussion? How to stop bleeding viewers with the hypocritical way they enforce their own player conduct rules?
Yes, a lot can and will happen between now and next Christmas, but one thing’s for sure, I’m asking Santa to bring us a Super Bowl – we need one to complete the set begun with the Astros second World Series Title coming to a Minute Maid Park near you next Fall.
How about you? What were your Christmas wishes for the Texans? What do you think it will take to get them there in 2018? Give us your opinions in the comments section.