This isn’t a new topic or earth-shattering conversation. It’s something discussed previously more than once. However, since it still remains unresolved and COVID-19 has put a damper on football news, we decided to gather ‘round the campfire and continue the discussion.
QUESTION: Houston still has some holes on the roster and Bill O’Brien is on record as saying the team isn’t done reshaping the roster. With that in mind, if you had Emperor of the Universe powers, what player would you bring in and how do you see that guy improving the team?
I think the team is missing another veteran edge pass rusher for the rotation. You’ve got a lot of young and unproven guys that need guidance and stability from more than J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. I could see a vet or two coming in and providing some of that development and five or so sacks like Antonio Smith did years ago from the inside.
I think Jadeveon Clowney (I wish), Everson Griffen, Cameron Wake, Clay Matthews, or Jabaal Sheard would all fit the bill. The Texans just don’t have that savvy edge presence when Merc sits as Brennan Scarlett, Jacob Martin, and Jonathan Greenard are still developing, Duke Ejiofor was injured... etc. I think any of those names could give a cheap and needed boost.
The dream player to bring back would obviously be Clowney. However, it seems that a snowball has a better chance of making it through August in Houston than bringing him back to the Texans. There is one player in the division that could help out the defensive line tremendously, and that’s Yannick Ngakoue.
Ngakoue is young, talented, and has been very healthy so far in his career. He has yet to show up to training camp for the Jaguars, so maybe they’d be willing to move him. Now, if Caldwell was HALF the GM that BOB is, he’d trade Yannick for a neck gaiter and a pair of Maui Jims. Realistically, the desired price might be too high for the Texans to pay. A player of Ngakoue’s talent could command a first or at least a second round pick.
Considering that Whitney Mercilus is a relative unknown going forward, Ngakoue could prove to be a decent building block on defense. J.J. Watt can use all the help he can get.
It’s hard for me to decide what we need more - a pass rusher to complement J.J. or a safety to complement Justin Reid.
I lean safety. Someone to pair with Justin Reid in the back end. I believe the amalgamation of corners the Texans have collected should work out fine, but we desperately need another guy in the back end who can play all over the field. I’m worried we’ll get decimated in the passing game because our pass rush will not be good and we won’t have two dependable guys over the top to help cover receivers. Especially since the AFC South is getting better and better receivers, we do not want to fall behind.
In terms of free agents, nothing will happen until either someone gets hurt or we get into the preseason and things aren’t looking good. I’d love a guy like Tony Jefferson. He can play all over the field and is a veteran. He did tear his ACL, but that was almost a year ago.
At this point, you are mainly looking at players who come with baggage. Whether that’s mental or physical, if a guy isn’t on a roster right now he probably has a glaring issue on his resume.
I strongly agree with adding Griffen or another safety, Griffen specifically would make a dramatic impact on the defense and help Ross Blacklock and Jonathan Greenard adapt to the NFL.
Or maybe adding recently released Larry Warford to fully complete the offensive line would be the best move for a passing offense, although adding Warford would likely leave so little cap space that signing another DE or safety would be impossible (although it might leave enough to sign Eric Reid to a one-year deal, pairing him with his brother in the backfield).
I don’t have any illusions that the Texans are just one player away from Super Bowl glory. The defense has too many holes that remain unaddressed to believe that. While the old adage that ‘defense wins championships’ may be more myth than fact in the modern NFL, having one the league’s worst certainly isn’t going to keep you from getting blown out in the NFL Playoffs (again).
To that end, Houston should already have Eric Reid physicaled, signed, and suited up to play alongside kid brother and Texans’ phenom Justin Reid. Just as Tyrann Mathieu shut the back door for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019, the elder Reid can do that for the Texans in 2020 (and beyond).
Houston needs help on the defensive front end as well.
Like others have mentioned, I still believe resigning Clowney makes the most sense to address the holes in the front seven. While Romeo Crennel never quite figured out the recipe of Clowney / Watt / Mercilus, maybe new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver can. Admittedly, that’s certainly pie in the sky at this point.
Next up, count my vote in the Everson Griffen and Damon “Snacks” Harrison camps. Adding one (or both) of these vets would create an instant upgrade in Houston’s defense, give J.J. Watt some reprieve from triple-team, get-held-on-every-snap attention, and provide great veteran presence for the younger players like Duke Ejiofor, Charles Omenihu, Ross Blacklock and Jonathan Greenard.
Houston’s front seven wasn’t great with D.J. Reader; without him it’s not even good. Thankfully, there’s still time to address this. Houston has some cash to play with, particularly if they can re-sign J.J. Watt to more cap friendly deal and get creative with Deshaun Watson’s extension.
Now you’ve read our conversation, join in and let us know what you would do at this stage to help Houston get over the hump of playoff embarrassment and early postseason exits.