We always talk about a team’s “window” of opportunity to be great. The small chance the franchise has to make a miracle run and win a Super Bowl. Few teams have ever had the stars align for more than three or four years. The Texans may be entering such a window now themselves, thanks to Deshaun Watson and a veteran defense. Which former Texans player (and maybe more specifically, the year they peaked) would you put on this 2018 roster to put the Texans over the hump this year?
This was a tougher answer than I expected. On offense, simply to infuse maximum talent, the obvious answer is peak Andre Johnson, but in order to address the specific perceived weaknesses of this upcoming 2018 Texans team - the answer of course is peak Duane Brown. This would at least give comfort to your franchise QB’s blindside. The coaching staff could then throw position numbers at RT and the guard spots rather than BOTH tackle and guard spots to shore up the offensive line.
On defense, I’d love to say peak J.J. Watt (because that guy is no longer on the team, sadly), but I know that’s a cheat. Glover Quin would likely have been my choice pre-draft, but I feel good about Justin Reid. OH WHY I AM OVER-THINKING THIS - THE ANSWER IS A.J. BOUYE - A.J. BOUYE IS THE ONLY ANSWER!!!!
The 2012 version of Johnathan Joseph.
My heart says Andre Johnson. The hardest thing about being a football fan is that these players have such short lifespans and don’t have the longevity you see in other sports. Although ‘Dre played twelve seasons in Houston, some of those were shortened by injuries, and others were ruined by catching passes from David Carr, or Ryan Fitzpatrick, or Matt Schaub after he fell off the cliff. Seeing Johnson play with a quarterback that has the ability that Deshaun Watson does--no, playing with Andrew Luck doesn’t count-- in the prime of his career is something that should have happened instead of pretty much kind of sort of happening.
But at this day and time, the one player I wish was on the Texans was A.J. Bouye. The Texans should have franchise-tagged him. He’s a top ten cornerback in the NFL, and he would have been the perfect bridge from Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson’s decline to a new version of great secondary play. Also, I think Bouye’s skill set should lead to longevity. Like Joseph, he’s great at recognizing routes and playing the ball. He’s not great solely because of his athleticism. He was a revelation in 2016, and he was spectacular last year in Jacksonville. I’m elated to watch him excel next to Jalen Ramsey, but damn, I wish the prime of his career took place in Houston.
On offense, I want to say Andre Johnson. Man, I’d love to watch him in his prime play alongside DeAndre Hopkins with Deshaun Watson throwing them the ball. That would be so much fun. But, from a coaching point of view, it has to be Chris Myers. Plug a prime Myers into the line, push Nick Martin out to the guard spot, and at least one of Bill O’Brien’s beloved A-gaps would have solid walls on it. Watson is slippery enough to elude edge pressure, but a blitz through a wet-paper-towel 0 or 1 technique is hard to avoid when you start under center.
On defense, I’d say a prime Mario Williams. Can you imagine having Williams, J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham and D.J. Reader as the front seven? Tyrann Mathieu, Johnathan Joseph, Justin Reid and crew could just sit back and play pitch and catch at that point.
When I first wrote this question, I was thinking of 2010 Arian Foster and Wade Smith on offense and DeMeco Ryans from 2007. We need the grit that Wade Smith had this season on this offensive line. He would take the interior to a different level. He was always a good communicator with the players around him and he was a Pro Bowler in 2010.
Arian is also a relatively easy answer. Although we would HAVE to change our running scheme to fit his style of play, imagine the headache linebackers would get having to watch both Deshaun Watson and Foster in the backfield. Smith and Foster are kind of a package because they both excel at the zone scheme. If I could throw in a little Vonta Leach into this, that would be stellar.
I wanted Ryans on this team not because it fills a hole, but because he would allow the Texans to have the best LB core in the league. Then I started thinking that he is too pure a 4-3 LB and would continue to have issues in our system. So I decided to go with Aaron Glenn from 2002 when he was a Pro Bowler in our first season. He had five interceptions and was an absolute stud.
I also thought about Kris Brown from 2007 and just for fun Vince Wilfork from 2007 when he was on the Patriots.