New Houston Texans general manager Brian Gaine recently made a comment about bringing in talent to help superstar-in-the-making Deshaun Watson. Gaine wasn’t referring to wide receivers, tight ends, or running backs. He meant offensive linemen. With Houston’s offensive line ranking dead last in most categories, it’s hardly a litmus test for team-building prowess to rank this as brilliance. But it’s nice to see someone finally gets the importance of shoring up the trenches.
“When you have a quarterback in place that you believe in, that you think can help you win a lot of football games, you’ve got to start to put pieces around him and pieces in place to help him succeed on the field. That’s not just with the perimeter players and the skill players, that’ll be with the offensive line.”- Brian Gaine
Let’s juke the talk about Brian Cushing and wade right into talking about the Bulls on Parade.
Nate Solder – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This guy could be an immediate plug and play upgrade at tackle. He’s not the most consistent player, and he does make mistakes at times, but Watson’s elusiveness in the pocket can cover those ills pretty easily.
Chris Hubbard – This guy is itching for the chance to start and with his contributions to the Steelers’ offense last season, someone is bound to give it to him.
Cameron Fleming – Another Texans-Northeast player who seems to have huge potential. But, like Bill Parcells always said, “Potential means you haven’t done anything yet.”
Andrew Norwell – Possibly the most sought-after offensive lineman on the free agent board, Norwell may very well spark a bidding war. With Houston needing so much help on the line, it’s hard to conceive tying up a larger than necessary chunk of money on one player, but stranger things have happened.
Justin Pugh – This guy is listed at tackle, but he is much more effective at guard. Pugh might be a candidate worth a tire-kicking visit because of Bill O’Brien’s love of versatility,.
Zach Fulton – Another guy with great potential, Fulton would be an upgrade over Xavier Su’a-Filo and could offer Houston what they thought they were getting when they drafted the incumbent left guard.
Joe Berger – Berger can play guard and center, which adds to his value in the O’Brien offense. Pair him with Nick Martin and Norwell, and Houston’s interior line becomes a wall Deshaun Watson can stand behind and fire lasers into the defense all day long.
Houston doesn’t need to assemble the number one offensive line in football (although that would be awesome). They just need a line that gives Deshaun Watson, Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman and the rest of the skill players a chance to do what they do best. Even a fifteenth-ranked unit is a massive upgrade to the line that helped Watson and company stack up 204 points in the six games he started last season. That increase in pass protection and run blocking should be worth at least an extra touchdown per game, which puts the offensive output in that span at 41 points per contest.
41 points. Now who says offensive lines aren’t exciting?
This certainly isn’t the be-all, end-all list of potential new Texans, but it’s a great place to start.
Who do you think Houston should bring in to replace the likes of Jeff Allen, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Breno Giacomini and the other traffic cones? Fill us in below!