Pro Football Focus is ranking various position groups ahead of the opening of the NFL’s training camps (if training camp even happens). Last season, PFF had Houston slightly below average; heading into this season they have them ranked there again. This is what they had to say:
19. Houston Texans
The quest for mediocrity is a crucial one for poor offensive lines, and Houston took a huge step in that direction last season, finishing 20th in our final rankings. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil made an immediate impact after coming over from the Miami Dolphins as the Texans’ left tackles had allowed a pressure once every 10 pass-blocking snaps across 2017 and 2018. Tunsil allowed a pressure once every 28 snaps last season and finished with the third-best pass-blocking grade in the league at 88.2, but he also led the league with 20 penalties including the playoffs. Even with the penalties, Tunsil immediately turned a weakness into a strength at left tackle for the Texans.
The rest of the line made strides in pass protection, as all five starters posted pass-blocking grades above 70.0. QB Deshaun Watson holds the ball longer than any quarterback on standard dropbacks and invites plenty of pressure himself, and the Texans had the league’s sixth-best pass-blocking grade last season at 79.1 after two years ranking near the bottom. The run blocking was not nearly as good, finishing fifth-worst at 52.2. Left guard Max Scharping and right tackle Tytus Howard finished with near-identical grades — 59.1 for Scharping, 59.4 for Howard — as both rookies struggled in the run game, ranking near the bottom of their respective positions.
Center Nick Martin profiled similarly, with a 79.8 pass-blocking grade that ranked eighth but a run-blocking grade of 58.0 that ranked 25th among centers. Right guard Zach Fulton was even worse in the run game with a 42.5 grade that tied for fourth-worst among guards, but he finished 21st with a pass-blocking grade of 73.9.
Houston returns all five starters from last season, and there is no line with a bigger discrepancy between pass blocking and run blocking ability.