Entering the 2020 NFL season, Pro Football Focus has been ranking every position group. For today’s iteration, they break down a Texans’ pass defense that was one of the worst in the league last year and that is pretty much the same for 2020. This is what PFF had to say:
25. Houston Texans
On paper, the Houston Texans’ secondary is a concern heading into the season. Bradley Roby’s and Gareon Conley’s best play in the NFL has come in man-heavy coverage shells, and while the Texans do play a lot of man coverage, even the most man-heavy teams play zone on almost half of their snaps.
Overall, Roby hasn’t hit the heights he hit in Denver from 2015-17, and last season he allowed 62.2% of the passes thrown his way to be caught. Conley surrendered six touchdowns and a passer rating of 104.2 when targeted, even if he did tally 11 pass breakups.
Lonnie Johnson gets a chance to recover from his rookie season, where he earned a PFF grade in the 30s and gave up seven touchdowns in just 52 targets. And the team has also kept faith with the Vernon Hargreaves III reclamation project despite little evidence he will turn his career around in Houston. Hargreaves graded only marginally better in Houston than he did in Tampa and remains a long shot to ever justify his draft spot.
At safety, the team signed Eric Murray, formerly of the Cleveland Browns, to a three-year, $18 million contract this offseason in a move that likely would have received significantly more scrutiny had they not also traded away DeAndre Hopkins for a bag of pistachios. Murray has been solid when pressed into action in his NFL career, but he is better against the run than he is in coverage, and that is a highly replaceable trait.
Justin Reid also returns and remains the best player in this secondary. He had a pair of interceptions, three pass breakups and a PFF coverage grade of 79.3 in 2019. Other new additions that could feature are special-teams ace Michael Thomas and fourth-round rookie John Reid. Reid has all the skills to be a plus player covering the slot, and given the uncertainty of the Houston cornerback room, he could easily steal playing time there sooner rather than later.
What are your thoughts? Do you think PFF was too harsh and is missing the mark?