We’re less than a week away from the first time the Houston Texans will win a game at Gillette Stadium, ever. Yes, that’s right. I’m calling a Texans win right here and now.
We’ll come back to that in a minute.
Before we do, let’s take a look at a few of the roster moves from the last week. A few didn’t, surprise us, a few did, and there’s at least one or two that left us scratching our heads while we search for more information.
1. Braxton Miller cut like a knife.
Not gonna pat myself on the back for calling this one a few weeks ago since the writing was on the wall. While Miller was the most promising of the later round wide receivers in recent Rick Smith drafts, in the end he’s joining Lestar Jean, Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey, Jalen Strong and a host of other wideouts that had great potential but never quite got there while striving to be the best Houston Texans they could be. Maybe Miller lands with a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers who can incorporate him as a gadget player in a package of trick plays. Odds are he’ll end up somewhere desperate for receiver talent where his strengths will be underutilized and we’ll all be sad that Miller will retire without ever getting to show what could have been.
2. Shane Lechler is no longer a Texan.
Sure, he’s getting a little long in the tooth. Sure, Houston is probably saving a cool million or more in cap space. But all that often seems irrelevant when you’re talking about a player who is arguably the best to ever play the position and certainly the best to ever play it for Houston. Lechler leaves with a career punt average of 47.6 yards, having booted the ball over 68,000 total yards in his pro life with 48,215 of those yards happening while he wore Battle Red. By comparison, Ray Guy, the last dude everyone hailed as the greatest punter of all time, retired with an average of 42.4 yards per kick and 44,493 total punting yards. So long, Shane. Thanks for all the kicks.
3. Troymaine Pope made the 53-man roster, then got cut anyway.
While info on things like this is always hard to come by, the fact that Houston brought in Buddy Howell to join a see-thru running back depth chart means something with Pope just didn’t click. The idea that they let Pope go while keeping Tyler Ervin is a tough pill to swallow, but every offseason seems to end with a head scratcher or two. Let’s just hope Ervin has finally found the handle on the ball, learned how to look for holes, not run right into defenders or his own blockers, and use his speed and shiftiness to help the Texans special teams unit instead of hurting them. It would be nice to see Ervin back to field a kick and not suffer a thousand mini panic attacks as the ball descends into his arms…
4. Joe Webb was cut and then brought back.
As I touched on in the aforementioned previous post, Joe Webb is fully qualified to not lose a game for us if the need arises. I asked a very accomplished retired coach why a team would have a backup quarterback completely incapable of running the starting offense and he couldn’t answer me. His reply was, “I’ve never understood that…” So, when you have a mobile Swiss army knife of a quarterback like Deshaun Watson and you back him up with cement-footed Tom Savage, you’ve essentially asked your offense to run a totally different system on a moment’s notice if the starting quarterback goes down. While Joe Webb is in no way Deshaun Watson, you can streamline the play packages created for Watson’s offense and have Webb run them. Sure Brandon Weeden makes better decisions, is more accurate, and has a better arm, but his playing style isn’t the same as Watson, so having him come in means you re-tool the offense on the fly to keep Houston in a game.
Okay, now back to my opening statement. Here’s a list of why Houston is winning this Sunday (feel free to add your reasons in the comments section):
1. J.J. Watt is back.
He’s smarter, stronger, and hungry. Couple that with Jadeveon Clowney’s ongoing contract situation that should provide him all the motivation he could possibly need and Whitney Mercilus’s desire to get back on the field, and the front seven should devour Tom Brady in a similar manner to the New York Giants manhandling of the Patriots’ offense in their Super Bowl match-ups.
2. Tyrann Mathieu has never faced Tom Brady.
And Houston has never brought a safety of his caliber into Gillette Stadium. While Brady will be busy picking himself up off the ground, he’s bound to throw an errant pass or three after Watt swats one, Clowney hits his arm while in mid-throw, or Mercilus hammers him in the back when he’s winding up. One of those is bound to find its way into the Honey Badger’s hands.
3. RAC is BACK!
Romeo Crennel’s return to the signal-calling/scheme-building duties for Houston defense’ has everyone excited, from players to coaches to front office personnel. If there’s anyone out there who knows how to fight against Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, aside from Tom Coughlin, it’s Romeo Crennel.
4. Deshaun Watson has a fire inside him that elevates all those around him.
This week has all the makings of a “changing of the guard” moment in NFL history. You can easily argue that Tom Brady might be the best quarterback of all-time; it’s even easier to state he’s the best in the last 20 years. Bu every great quarterback has had a game where they unceremoniously pass the torch to a young gun who beats them.
That young gun is Watson, who has done nothing but win everywhere he’s ever been. If Watson can carve up the defense of the Alabama Crimson Tide two years in a row, you can bet he can do it to the New England Patriots. Take that to the bank.
5. The Houston Texans are simply a more talented roster.
Looking at the game on paper – which never means that much – it’s easy to see the Texans have a more talented roster. While Bill Belichick is obviously the better head coach, New England is often a slow starting team, losing games early in the season before they start firing on all cylinders. With the Texans the healthiest they’re going to be all year, with so many Pro Bowl caliber players chomping at the bit to get on the field, with the x-factor brought to the field from guys like Watson, DeaAdre Hopkins, Will Fuller V, Watt, Clowney and Mathieu, this game is going to be won on the field, not under the headsets. Bill O’Brien finally gets his first win in New England and puts the league on notice that no one should sleep on the Houston Texans anymore.
Are you ready for some Houston Texans football?