Not sure there’s ever been a harder time to be a Houston Texans fan than right now. After nearly two decades of unmet expectations, the people in charge of the team are doing their best to field a generic version of a football team for 2021. The plan of action appears to be “just sign anyone willing to move to H-Town and call it ‘competition’”.
Only two potential Pro Bowl players remain on the roster, Laremy Tunsil and Justin Reid. Zach Cunningham could rise into that stratosphere, but with 57 other linebackers gunning for his job, he’ll probably spend too much time looking over his shoulder to stay focused on the task at hand. Beyond those two (three?) is a who’s who of Madden Football second page, Week Eight free agents brought in to hammer home the “competition” mantra tucked into the toxic positivity coming from NRG Park. It’s like a pill shoved inside a dog treat meant to trick Toro into happily eating it.
A few sites are already rolling out their depth chart predictions for 2021. Looking at what Pro Football Focus offers up just hammers home the opening sentence of this post.
Gone are the days where J.J. Watt excited us, Arian Foster thrilled us, and Deshaun Watson amazed us. No more insane catches from DeAndre Hopkins. Not even a beatdown of a mouthy Titans cornerback by Andre Johnson to give us hope for great entertainment.
Looking at the depth chart above, and considering the NFL is currently a pass happy league, it’s easy to assume any and all opposing quarterbacks are drooling at the opportunity to attack the right side of Houston’s secondary. The notion that Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Terrance Mitchell are the only thing standing between Vernon Hargreaves III and the field should make Johnathan Joseph have nightmares of rolling in his own grave.
Bleacher Report doesn’t offer any hope with their rendition of the starting lineup either:
Offense: QB Tyrod Taylor, RB David Johnson, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Randall Cobb, WR Keke Coutee, TE Jordan Akins, LT Laremy Tunsil, LG Max Scharping, C Justin Britt, RG Marcus Cannon, RT Tytus Howard
Defense: edge Whitney Mercilus, DT Maliek Collins, DT Charles Omenihu, edge Shaq Lawson, OLB Christian Kirksey, ILB Zach Cunningham, OLB Neville Hewitt, CB Vernon Hargreaves III, CB Terrance Mitchell, FS Justin Reid, SS Lonnie Johnson Jr.
In this version, apparently Hargreaves earns the nod over Bradley Roby, which may happen in Week One while Roby sits out the last of his PED suspension. Trevor Lawrence should be sending a thank you card to whomever recommended that banned substance to Roby and Will Fuller V. Lawrence has a legitimate chance to post the best rookie opening day debut in NFL history going against this secondary. Thankfully, he’s still on the Jacksonville Jaguars, so we have that going for us.
Speaking of players in Florida, by replacing Benardrick McKinney with a slew of second and third string linebackers, Nick Caserio’s “competition” plan isn’t doing anything to help out Hargreaves and Co. either. A defensive line consisting of Whitney Mercilus, Maliek Collins, Charles Omenihu, and Shaq Lawson sounds like a Derrick Henry dream come true.
On the offensive side of the ball, Houston is once again shuffling deck chairs on the S.S, Titanic of an offensive line. While Nick Martin wasn’t the answer Houston needed at center, there’s not much to indicate Justin Britt is either. New running backs Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram have their work cut out behind this line. But that’s okay. Because Tyrod Taylor knows how to run for his life, right? Let’s hope he teaches Ryan Finley and Davis Mills how to do it, so they can too once Taylor is sacked into oblivion.
There are very few things as demoralizing to a fan base as to sit in your home stadium, outnumbered by fans of the road team. With the product the Houston Texans are trotting onto the field this year and the sheer number of disgruntled Texans fans, there’s a very big chance that happens more than once this season at NRG.
The only glimmer of hope is knowing that the New England Patriots, with the assistance of Houston general manager Nick Caserio, built a few championship teams on the backs of “no-name” players. If the Texans had Deshaun Watson under center, a promising future would be a very viable, if not far-fetched, hope. But there are no “almost Tom Brady” quality quarterbacks on the roster aside from DW4.
Unfortunately, if Watson surfaces from the dark waters he’s currently in, looking at this roster, coaching staff, and front office is hardly the sort of thing anyone should expect would change his stance from demanding a trade to wanting to rejoin the team. Sorry for the gloom and doom, but man it’s hard to be a Texans fan right now. Maybe McNair and Caserio should compete for the hearts and minds of fans.