While signing Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu grabbed a ton of headlines in free agency (and did a lot to improve Houston’s secondary) and the media is absolutely in love with Deshaun Watson (as they should be!), unless you’re living in H-Town or a diehard, news-devouring Houston Texans fan, the team has largely flown under the radar again this offseason, like they usually do.
What’s a Texan fan to do with so little news coverage in the slowest part of the news cycle?
Talk amongst ourselves, that’s what. Who cares if the mainstream sports media outlets would rather discuss potential homes for Dez Bryant? Why does anyone want to read another piece on whether or not (insert random player) would stand for the National Anthem? There’s no point in reading any of that when we could be discussing actual football teams or the coaches and players who are working their tails off to do what pro ball is all about: Win a championship.
Here at Red Zone Play, our underlying focus is the Houston Texans’ trip inside the virtual Red Zone, a trip that ends with them bringing a Lombardi Trophy home to the loyal fans of Houston. To that end, here are some topics of discussion that relate directly to the team re-entering the Red Zone and whether or not they’ll be able to punch it in for the biggest score in team history.
Offensive Line Clarity
The projected starting line consists of Julie’n Davenport (LT), Zach Fulton (LG), Nick Martin (C), Senio Kelemete (RG), and Seantrel Henderson (RT). Even the one guy who has the most snaps at his position for Houston, Nick Martin, has a lot of question marks; is he going to rise to his potential and be the replacement for Chris Myers the team has needed since Myers left? Can Davenport develop into a Pro Bowl quality left tackle? Can the three newcomers in Fulton, Kelemete, and Henderson pick up the playbook and gel with the rest of the line fast enough to give Deshaun Watson, Lamar Miller and the rest a fighting chance? This topic raises questions we could spend weeks debating.
Some Texans fans were not ever really on the Larry Izzo train. Many of those who were originally excited about the hire got off at the first station once Tyler Ervin started dropping balls like it was cool. Now Brad Seely is the special teams coach, and the former NFL Special Teams Coordinator of the Year brings the same promise and hope the last umpteen guys to have his office did and then some. Seely’s history as an offensive line coach in college should at least allow for better blocking schemes and blocking technique than we’ve seen recently. Who exactly is going to become “the guy” on kickoff and punt returns is still up in the air, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Keke Coutee push Ervin off the field (more on Ervin ahead).
Running Back Room
Speaking of Ervin, the idea of future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson signing with his hometown Texans isn’t new. With Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman, Alfred Blue and Tyler Ervin currently on the roster to take handoffs from Deshaun Watson, it’s pretty easy to believe that Ervin should be jettisoned to make room for Peterson. Even if AD isn’t the guy who set the all-time game rushing record and missed the season record by eight yards in 2012, having him to hammer the A-gap to keep Bill O’Brien happy could allow for better use of Miller and Foreman; it might also allow Blue to come in fresh in the second half and continue hammering the hole. At this point, it doesn’t seem like the Texans would have anything to lose by bringing in Peterson, who likely isn’t looking for a home run contract. At least Lamar Miller thinks there’s merit in adding Peterson:
While it’s unlikely Houston will set records (again) for the most players started in one season, knowing that key players like J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, Will Fuller, and Watson are all just one bad play away from the injured reserve list should be enough of a red flag to get Brian Gaine to search high and low for better depth. While there are a handful of solid second-string guys on the roster who could start on other teams, the Texans’ injury history suggests they need a starting quality second-string depth chart as an insurance policy to keep the train racing down the tracks when one or more key players inevitably misses time.
This is an area that makes me scratch my head. Glossing over QB2 is a strange characteristic of many coaching staffs that has never made sense and one that was clearly on display with Houston last season. If you spend countless time, energy, and resources developing an offense that runs most efficiently with a particular style of quarterback under center, why on earth would you back that quarterback up with a guy who plays best in a different style? Going from Tom Savage to Deshaun Watson and then back to Tom Savage? A rigid, fairly immobile pocket passer turns the keys over to one of the most mobile, RPO ready guys to come out of college in years. How much time was spent beating the dead horse of the wasted 2017 training camp so Savage could get ready, only for Savage to get the Gong Show treatment at halftime in the season opener?
Teddy Bridgewater could be available. RGIII might be too. Colin Kaepernick would be a better option than another round of Brandon Weeden’s downtuned gameplan. If Watson gets hurt, changing the entire offense isn’t the answer. Having a guy who can run the same offense is.
There ya go, Texans fans. Lots of things to discuss, debate, and mull over while waiting for the current drought to come to an end. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.