We are three weeks removed from a Super Bowl that was for people in Boston and Los Angeles. Here the Texans sit, preparing for the offseason with issues of their own to address. With that in mind, here aare three out-of-the-box predictions for the 2019 Texans as they enter the dead time of the NFL calendar.
- Deshaun Watson will lead all NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards in 2019. This is the hot take that doesn’t seem so crazy when you analyze it. Last season, the 23 year old finished third in rushing yards among quarterbacks behind Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. DW4 did this despite playing with arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL.
The safe bet would be to predict Lamar Jackson as the rushing leader since he is basically a running back who occasionally throws the ball. The Ravens will try to develop a more pass-centric offense and develop Jackson’s passing abilities, though. The same can be said for the Bills as Allen, like Jackson, enters his second season in the league. Cam Newton and Alex Smith, other quarterbacks who usually top the quarterback charts for rushing yards, are likely to either miss games or enter the season at much less than full strength. Smith is coming off a gruesome leg injury in a game that happened to be against these Texans. Newton will be coming off a shoulder operation for an injury he suffered in Week 10 at Pittsburgh. Owner David Tepper speculated that he could be down for the entire 2019 season.
Bill O’Brien seemed to grow more confident in Watson’s rushing ability down the stretch this season as more running plays were designed for him. The Texans’ offensive line is also likely to see vast improvement after the position is addressed in both the draft and free agency. The stage should be set for Watson to pull this off in 2019.
2. The Texans will finish with a better record than last season, yet will finish second in the AFC South division. This is about how well the Colts have rebuilt their team. Andrew Luck is coming off an MVP-caliber season; he was not healthy for the first six or seven games. Now Indianapolis will have Luck at full strength for an entire season.
The Colts have the most cap space in the league, although the Texans sit at fifth most. Indianapolis also has nine picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. General manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich have done an impressive job giving Luck a stellar offensive line and a defense that was one of the best in the league over the second half of the season. They are also on the short list of candidates to land the soon-to-be former Steelers prized possessions, Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The Colts are in prime position to put themselves among the elites of the NFL.
The Texans have opportunities to improve in many areas themselves, but the Colts are the ideal rebuild model. The Texans and Colts will both finish 12-4 in 2019 and will split their season series. The difference will come in strength of schedule. Both take trips to Kansas City to take on the reigning top AFC seed Chiefs. The Colts will win their game at Arrowhead, but the Texans will fall short. Predictions mean nothing without the specifics. Take that for data.
3. Houston will either trade for Jalen Ramsey or sign Earl Thomas as a free agent. Yes, that’s right. The Texans have an enormous weakness in addition to their offensive line—their secondary. Despite Pro Football Focus rating Houston as the fifth best secondary unit in the NFL, they were easily picked apart by good quarterbacks for most of the season. They allowed the fifth most passing yards per game with 279.8. Quarterbacks against the Texans this year had a rating of 92.5, which was 15th in the league, but when you look at the list of average or subpar quarterbacks the Texans played, this statistic is misleading.
Andrew Luck had his way with them three times this season. Tom Brady and Nick Foles had huge games against Houston as well. The Texans were fortunate enough to not have the other AFC elite signal-callers on their schedule, a list that includes Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Patrick Mahomes. They instead were able to rack up wins against Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, Brock Osweiler, and Nathan Peterman.
The Texans’ front office knows that they have a window right now with their core players still in their primes (DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney) and their soon-to-be-rich quarterback on his rookie contract. Aggression wins, and the Texans will make a big splash this offseason. As far as what they have to give up for a Jalen Ramsey or how much they have to pay for an Earl Thomas...both are up for debate. But nonetheless, as wild of a take as it is, one of these transactions will happen and the Texans’ secondary will be much better in 2019.