In the 2010s, the Texans’ offense went from Gary Kubiak and Matt Schaub to Bill O’Brien and a wide array of quarterbacks who were a variety shades of crappy until Deshaun Watson was drafted and the Texans’ offensive fortunes changed. On defense, the Texans were led by one season of Frank Bush, then Wade Phillips, and then Romeo Crennel; for almost the entirety of the decade, J.J. Watt was the glue leading and then holding the defense together.
Football Outsiders, in partnership with ESPN, broke down each team’s performance last decade, along with their outlook for the 2020 NFL season. They had the following to say about your Houston Texans:
Offense: The 2010 Texans wasted a fantastic offense (second) because of a dismal defense (31st) on their way to 6-10. That was Matt Schaub’s peak, and the offense declined in each of the next couple of years even though the team was winning more games because the defense had turned things around. The middle of the decade was not a good time for the Houston offense, with a lot of different quarterbacks leading the team. There was the Fitzpatrick year, the Hoyer year, the Osweiler year and then the Tom Savage half-year in 2017 after rookie Deshaun Watson got hurt.
You might be surprised to learn that the Houston offense hasn’t improved more over the past couple of years with a healthy Watson at quarterback. Watson comes out in our numbers as good but not great — only 12th in passing DVOA last season — and the Houston running game was particularly poor in 2018.
Offensive outlook for 2020: It’s hard to imagine an improvement, especially with the loss of DeAndre Hopkins, but we’re not expecting the Texans to crash out to the bottom of the league either.
Defense: J.J. Watt arrived in 2011 and since then the Texans have mostly had a top-10 defense when Watt has been healthy and a poor defense when he has been injured. It’s not quite that cut-and-dried: The Texans were a little worse than average with a healthy Watt in 2013, in large part because of an inability to get takeaways, and they had a strong defense in 2016 even though Watt played only three games. But for the most part, as Watt goes, so go the Texans.
Defensive outlook for 2020: As Watt goes, so go the Texans.