There’s no denying that Laremy Tunsil and J.J. Watt are leaders on the field and in the locker room. When they do their best to lead the Texans in the right direction, good things will happen.
Laremy Tunsil is #1
With the addition of Tunsil to the Houston Texans in 2019, in a deal that also landed Kenny Stills but sent a hope chest of draft capital to the Miami Dolphins, it seemed the hole left by All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown was finally filled. Tunsil went on to become the single most penalized player in the league last year, committing 14 false starts, 3 offensive holding fouls, and 3 ineligible man downfield errors. While three of these infractions were declined to put him at 17 total penalties in 2019, he still caused 20 yellow hunks of fabric to hit the field. Not the most promising start for a guy who cost Houston the equivalent of three potential young starters in the form of lost draft picks.
But 2020 has been good to Tunsil and those who rely on him.
Through five weeks, Laremy Tunsil has the top pass blocking grade among OTs, according to PFF. And he's committed only one penalty.— Aaron Reiss (@aaronjreiss) October 12, 2020
One penalty through five games. Definitely an improvement. Even more so when you consider the penalty attributed to Tunsil was actually committed by fellow offensive tackle Tytus Howard.
And as @AdamJWexler points out, that penalty should’ve been on Tytus Howard— Aaron Reiss (@aaronjreiss) October 12, 2020
Thankfully, Howard has been doing better as well:
Tytus Howard relocated 96 to a new area code pic.twitter.com/YGAnVehmtJ— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) October 11, 2020
Overall, Pro Football Focus grades Tunsil at 84.1, good enough for sixth best in the league, with an 89.8 pass block rating (1st) and a 68.6 run blocking rank (29th). While Duane Brown was a run blocking superstar of bulldozing proportions, it’s not too much to expect Tunsil’s stats in that area to climb with the better play calling and game prep that comes in the post-Bill O’Brien era.
J.J. Watt is excited to play football
Speaking of, the happiness felt by the Masthead at the expulsion of former Texans football czar O’Brien is an echo of the team’s current state of euphoria. As goes the leader, so goes the organization. J.J. Watt is a leader of men.
"We had a lot of fun today...For Romeo, seeing his dance moves in the locker room after the game was a real treat."-J.J. Watt on Texans' 1st win of 2020.— Drew Dougherty (@DoughertyDrew) October 11, 2020
While there’s no easy path back to the heights this team has enjoyed in the past, improved play from a top offensive player like Tunsil, a spirit of “let’s have fun” coming from interim head coach Romeo Crennel, and happiness from the undeniable leader of the locker room in J.J. Watt is certainly a step in the right direction and a sign of brighter horizons.
Speaking of J.J., the Houston icon currently ranks third in the NFL against the run, landing right behind his brother T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a PFF grade of 79.6. If new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver can continue to make lemonade from the O’Brien branded lemons he inherited, Watt’s numbers should also continue to improve. Especially with the Tennessee Titans playing tonight (Tuesday, 10.13.2020) and thus only four days to prepare for the Texans this coming Sunday.
Hear from J.J. Watt following the win over Jacksonville.https://t.co/5c7rVDRDKJ— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) October 12, 2020
Sure, the Houston Texans have a long road ahead of them, but the sun is shining and lighting a path with hope and happiness. What more could a football fan ask for after the past seven years?
While Tunsil and Watt are stepping up, who do you see making the biggest post-O’Brien era improvement? Give us your take in the comments.