We continue with the second half of our staff expectations for the Houston Texans this season. If you missed Part I, you can fix that by clicking here. You can also use the comments section below to make your own predictions for 2017!
UprootedTexan: 8-8 or 9-7
So here we are again, huh folks? I feel like we Texans fans are all having a massive collective experience of deja vu for the third, maybe fourth year in a row.
Why? Because, except for the names being changed, the team is effectively the same.
Our defense is now fully armed and operational with the return of J.J. Watt, creating one of the most fearsome front sevens in the league. But behind them are a lot of question marks in the secondary. Can Kevin Johnson stay healthy? Where exactly is Kareem Jackson going to play? How much more does J-Jo have left in the tank? When did Eugene Wilson get re-signed to play safety? The defense should be monstrous, but I have no idea what to expect from our secondary.
The offensive line is a patchwork that would make Tom Cable proud (side note: This is not a good thing). Duane Brown is still holding out and there's no telling when or even if he'll be back. If he does return, who knows what kind of shape he'll be in? Derek Newton's done for the year already and may never return to the NFL. That's both starting tackles from last year already out until further notice. And frankly, the idea of any combination of Kendall Lamm, Breno Giacomini, Jeff Allen, and Xavier Su'a-Filo makes me want to wake up screaming in the dead of night.
And we're back to the default option at quarterback again for the third out of four years. I mean, I want to like Tom Savage, I really do. I want to believe someone who has been in the same offensive system for four years might finally provide some kind of stability while we wait for Deshaun Watson to develop. I want to believe it, but Savage has been passed over by a stiff with a weak arm from Harvard, a stiff with a weak arm from Michigan State, a strong-armed narcoleptic with rocks in his head, and an exceedingly tall quarterback who shall not be named and who is apparently not smart enough that he has to be specifically told not to touch a hot stove. If Savage can't outperform any of them (save for 2015, where he was injured in preseason), it doesn't speak well to his potential.
All that being said, I don't think Savage is as much of a train wreck as [UNPERSON], who can't be trusted around kitchen appliances, so maybe Savage might be able to make some passes (or any passes) that ol’ What's-His-Neck couldn't complete in a month of Sundays.
I don't even want to think about special teams because traditionally that's just too depressing to even contemplate. I want to believe that Tyler Ervin has improved and that Ka'imi (really long name) Fairbairn could be an improvement over Nick Novak, but I haven't seen enough of either of them to make that determination. With Fairbairn, I'm curious to see how that will impact Bill O'Brien's vaunted All Field Goal Offense.
What does all that mean? It means the same that it ever does. The Texans will dominate their division because someone has to. They'll do less well against non-AFC South teams. We'll have either a 9-7 or 8-8 record because our defense is just that damned good and our division is just that damned bad.
Capt. Ron: 9-7
Assuming everyone on defense stays healthy, this could be one for the ages. It's absolutly going to be fun to watch!
On the other hand, I have zero confidence in this offensive system. It's been the same underperforming, lackluster, yawn-inducing mess since it was installed. I'd honestly rather see them put Watson in there and let him yard ball with Hopkins in dynamic off-schedule fashion than to watch the inevitable painful and boring disaster unfold for the fourth consecutive season.
Speaking of disasters, I still don't understand how special teams continues to be the laughingstock of the NFL every year. Seriously.
Because of the continued concerns with the offense and special teams, it smells like "deja vu all over again" in Houston: 9-7 and a second-round exit in the playoffs.
Maybe next season they'll hire an actual offensive coordinator and install a system to help Watson lead this team to a championship. You know, while J.J. Watt and the rest of us are all still alive.
Battle Red Coat: 7-9
When I look at this team, I think to myself that it's incomplete in too many ways for it to overcome. Its offensive scheme is a catastrophe that has seemingly regressed every year Bill O'Brien has been in charge. Two-fifths of the offensive line is not good and will be a liability for a large chunk of this season. The quarterback is going to be someone who has played less than 200 snaps in his NFL career.
The saving grace for this team is going to be the fact that is plays in the AFC South and the defense is otherwordly.
Diehard Chris: 7-9
I've picked the Texans go to 9-7 or 10-6 for I don't know how many consecutive years now. This time around, I just can't ascribe significant improvement to this team using anything but "feelings" and hope.
I see a defense that should continue to excel or maybe even improve. I'm not quick to assume the defense will be better just because J.J. Watt is back. There are big questions on the back-end, and every year J-Jo doesn't fall off a cliff due to his age is found money. Kareem Jackson didn't have a good season last year, but if Kevin Johnson stays healthy I think he has All-Pro potential. It's just those safeties - that is a scary group.
On offense, there is literally no reason for me to believe this unit will be significantly better, and significantly better is what the offense needs to be - not just "better". Sure, Savage is better than [REDACTED]. D'Onta Foreman will bring good things to the running game. So you have at least some improvement at QB and I do think the RB group will be better. The WR group should improve with improved QB play, but the team is counting on Braxton Miller and Will Fuller (upon his return in a couple of months) being better just because they are a year older (they probably will be).
On the offensive line, I really have no reason to believe the team will be any better. In fact, I won't be surprised if they're worse without Duane Brown. Even when Brown returns, does he step right back in at peak "football shape"? We don't know. He will be another year older, but I have little concern about that with Duane. Nick Martin is now at center and the early reviews are very positive, but Greg Mancz was solid as the starter last year; I guess he's not good enough as a guard to replace the two starters who are both huge question marks.
Then there's the special teams. Yeah, the lights haven't truly gone on yet for the season, but if the preseason is any indication of what's to come, Larry Izzo may be headed for a plaque in the Joe Marciano Hall of Shame. I'll leave a tiny pool of hope in my heart for the specials to figure it out when the real football begins, but right now it appears to be headed for full-on Clusterville.
This prediction hinges entirely on my hope that the key parts of the Texans' defense will remain generally healthy and my belief that Deshaun Watson is what we hope he is. In looking at the schedule, it's very easy to see at least three losses in the first seven games, and it's not unreasonable to see five. Fortunately for the Texans, the last nine games of the season appear considerably less taxing.
I believe things are set up for this team to go on a run after a rough start. This run will coincide with Deshaun Watson's elevation to the starting lineup after the offense repeatedly struggles to consistently move the ball and score points. Watson will give Houston’s offense a dimension they didn’t have with Tom Savage, one they’ll desperately need with an offensive line that won’t remind anyone of the Cowboys’. That’s not say it’ll be smooth sailing once Watson takes over; it won’t be. Watson is going to have his struggles as a rookie, but the good will far outweigh the bad, and the wins will come. I am comfortable predicting that Watson will transform a below average offense into an average one. As good as this defense should be, that’s all that’s necessary for now.
I think we're in for a tough first couple of months, but we're going to see something special begin in November that'll carry us through the rest of the regular season and into the NFL Playoffs. We're going to feel much different about this team in January than we will in October, and it'll be a very, very good difference.
11-5. Deshaun Watson and a voracious defense will make it so.
The Texans are once again unsettled at quarterback, this season more than ever. The They are opening the season with a combined 92 pass attempts, 588 yards, and 0 TDs at the quarterback position. Tom Savage will be under the microscope on every snap. If the team loses games early in the season, the quarterback controversy will intensify.
There are also question marks at WR2 and the slot. Will Fuller's injury was a huge blow to this offense, especially for two quarterbacks with limited experience. The lack of weapons as well as the scrutiny that will come about O'Brien's playcalling will not be good for the locker room, and I also think that Watson needs more time to develop before assuming the starting role. The offensive line is still a hodgepodge, and Kendall Lamm's performance in the absence of Duane Brown will be a huge factor.
On defense, we don't know for certain if we will see J.J. Watt at full strength, or whether Mike Vrabel will completely turn him loose until he's comfortable with what he sees on film. Watt’s back surgery should still be an area of concern, though I expect that he has indeed fully recovered. The defensive backs group lost talent in the offseason when A.J. Bouye took off for Jacksonville. Johnathan Joseph's best days are clearly behind him, and Kevin Johnson needs to prove that he can stay healthy.
This is a growth season for the Texans. I think they will take a step back, retool the offense in the offseason, and come back better in 2018.
Those are our thoughts, Texans fans. Feel free to discuss your own expectations for the season below!