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BRB GroupThink: Play The Kids

Which move in the name of development do you want to see the Texans make to get the most out of the 2020 NFL season?

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The 2020 Houston Texans season is over from a win-loss standpoint, no matter what Kyle says. For the rest of the season, which young player are you most excited to watch,? What move in the name of development do you want to see Houston make to get the most out of that player?

Those are the two questions I asked the Masthead. These were their responses:

MATT WESTON:

Last year the Miami Dolphins were a terrible football team. They had one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Their give-it-a-shot quarterback Josh Rosen was absolutely horrendous, skewing numbers and performance, making the uptick in performance with Ryan Fitzpatrick indiscernible. But the Fins played hard. They tried. They created some idea of what a future good Dolphins team would look like.

During thjat exploratory season, the Dolphins discovered things about themselves. DeVante Parker showed he could play like a WR1. Myles Gaskin was called up to the 53-man roster and stayed there entering this season, outplaying Matt Breida and Jordan Howard and becoming the starting running back. Mike Gesicki caught everything. Christian Wilkins took his lumps. They gave fifth round rookie linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, and undrafted free agent cornerback Nik Needham significant playing time; both are either starting, or part of Miami’s defensive rotation this season.

The Dolphins wouldn’t have found any of this out unless they made an effort to get the kids on the field. You don’t know if the puppies can bite or not until they actually get live reps.

So far this season, the Texans have taken the opposite approach. Bill O’Brien’s soggy floating body of a roster, his grand idea, the team he built around the final year of Deshaun Watson’s rookie contract, has crumbled in the bathtub. This season is over from a win-loss stand point. There’s nothing left to do. Rather than bench the vets and the known knowns and play the kids, the Texans have continued to play Whitney Mercilus, Randall Cobb, Brandon Dunn, Carlos Watkins, Darren Fells, Senio Kelemete, and Vernon Hargreaves III.

The Texans need to take the rest of the season to see what they have below the veteran loofas that won’t be apart of the next great Texans team. There are dozens of things Houston can do to get the most out of this season. Of all them, the one I want to see the most is getting Ross Blacklock out there and giving him a single gap to control. Houston hasn’t had an interior pass rush since J.J. Watt moved to the outside, and Antonio Smith’s production came to an end. Blacklock, as an idea, was something they’ve been missing. This year he accidentally made a tackle on a screen pass and got around Taylor Lewan after a snap count miscommunication. That’s it. He’s been worked in double teams. He’s provided nothing as a pass rusher. He punched a guy—making Daddy very upset.

When watching THE FILM, it doesn’t feel like Anthony Weaver has a plan for Blacklock. Weaver just rotates and plays Blacklock in the same role everyone else does instead of putting him in a better spot to do what he does best—use his pad level and hands to disrupt the interior and get into the backfield. Use those same hands on stunts to pressure the quarterback. The things that popped on Blacklock’s TCU video have been nowhere to be found this season. As a former second round pick, the highest draft pick Houston will have for two seasons, playing a position Houston has been dying to get production at, the Texans have to do more to get Blacklock going.

We know what P.J. Hall, Watkins, and Dunn are. Let’s find out what Blacklock is.

BIGFATDRUNK:

I think we really need to see what 2020 draft picks, specifically Ross Blacklock, Jonathan Greenard, and John Reid can do. There’s no reason whatsoever to not give these three guys a ton of snaps over the last nine games. Aside from Reid, my expectations are terribly low, so it would be nice to see some good film from Blacklock and Greenard.

L4BLITZER:

I have to agree with BFD here. We have these rookies from the 2020 NFL Draft, reinforcements for our defense, since the goal under the previous administration was to spend all the big money on offensive players and/or overpriced free agents. We kept hearing great things, especially about Reid, in training camp leading up to the season, but we don’t really see any of them on the field. With the team at 1-6 and near the bottom of just about every single meaningful league defense team statistic, what is the harm in letting the kids play a little?

Perhaps the rookies are really not good and it just further solidifies BO’B’s position as one of the worst GMs in NFL history. Still, the team needs to see if these guys can play, and the only way to really evaluate them is to get them that critical in-game experience. If they go out and the team still gives up tons of yards on the ground and through the air with the subsequent points, what has changed? At least you give the next GM/HC combination (even the current Texans’ brain trust isn’t THAT stupid to dual-hat those positions again) an idea of what they are dealing with and what could be done to either develop or ship out those players to another team.

MIKE BULLOCK:

That’s a “yep” from me, too. Greenard seems to have potential, Blacklock may or may not. Reid got all the preseason hype. Let’s put their collective money where O’Brien’s mouth is and find out. Taking the field under Anthony Weaver and Romeo Crennel certainly can’t hurt a young defender.

I’d also like to see Max Scharping and Tytus Howard step up their game as well, although when Greenard or Blacklock blows an assignment it won’t get Deshaun Watson killed.

And, there’s the man, the myth, the legend, Kahale Warring. I can’t remember a single player ever get this much hype without actually having ANY NFL level highlight reel material. Time for Warring to put up or the media to shut up. He’s off Injured Reserve and has the rest of the season to do or die.

DIEHARD CHRIS:

I still want to see Keke Coutee. It is just so baffling to me that we can’t see him on the field in a lost season when he’s shown SO much promise. BOB isn’t here anymore, so there’s no reason it has to be all Randall Cobb all the time. Cobb’s been fine, but again - lost season! Get Keke out there and let him work out his issues in a lost season. This is said with the obvious caveat that there may be more to the story than we know regarding Coutee’s practice habits, ability to grasp the offense, his behavior, etc.

CARLOS FLORES:

The league could turn this thing into a 20-team playoff and I don’t think the Texans could secure a spot.

I’m going to focus in a little bit on Jacob Martin. Outside of the rookies in Greenard and Blacklock, he’s one of the few guys that can potentially make an impact on this anemic pass rush.

He’s been able to show flashes at times with his ludicrous speed. However, his run snaps still make me laugh sometimes. This is really more about how much I want Whitney Mercilus off the field, but since it’s a down year, let’s see what we’ve got in Martin. There was trade interest from the Seahawks close to the deadline, so there might be something to Martin that other teams are seeing.

Which young player do you want to see more of for the rest of 2020?