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BRB GroupThink: Getting Excited Up In Here

The masthead joins together to grasp at straws.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

“Competition, competition, competition,” I muttered in my sleep last night. Competition, competition, competition, a loop of consciousness buzzing in my head as I mowed my own yard for the first time. Competition, competition, competition. I saw the photos of Nick Caserio throwing the pigskin around, something corny even if it was John Elway doing the same. I saw a picture of Jack Easterby lining up as a three technique. These strike me as men wishing they didn’t occupy the skin they did, wishing they were someone else, and finding it at the expense of our favorite football team.

The offseason is normally a time of undying optimism. Crazy, Pollyanna like hope for the coming season. Well, somehow that feeling was dragged out back, beat down, stepped on, run over, and left for dead in the back alley of Battle Red Row. Flowers have been trudged over and squashed, laying flattened in the cracks of the asphalt.

But we believe in the trinity, and we believe in David Culley - his eternal, albeit toxic, positivity is unrelentless and infectious. We will continue to watch the Houston Texans, and look for bright spots, finding speckles of corn in the proverbial crapper.

For this week’s GroupThink, I asked the masthead the following question:

What are you most excited to watch when the Texans season kicks off this September?

These are our answers:

MIKE BULLOCK:

For me, there’s no replacing the excitement of watching Deshaun Watson work miracles on the offensive side of the ball. Tyrod Taylor, Davis Mills and [insert rando QB here] might do fine, but Houston simply can’t duplicate what Watson brings without bringing Watson back. And, that seems about as likely as me winning the Powerball without buying a ticket.

That turns my attention to the defense. There was a time when the name Lovie Smith struck fear in opposing offenses. It would seem that ship has sailed. But until we actually see what Smith and his new coaching staff can do with the Texans defense, my ‘guilty pleasure’ is hoping Smith proves a lot of people wrong.

I miss the days when the Texans defense was one of the scariest in the NFL. When J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, Antonio Smith, DeMeco Ryans, Daniel Manning, Jonathan Joseph and others were shutting down opposing offenses like clockwork.

If Smith can even turn this unit into a Top-15 D, that’ll be a HUGE success. But, instead of doing so with the players named above, he’ll go to war with Whitney Mercilus, Justin Reid, Shaq Lawson, jacob Martin, Charles Omenihu, Maliek Collins, Ross Blacklock and Vernon Hargreaves III.

Not quite the same fear striking ability in that second set of names. However, in a next-man-up league, the opportunity for these Texans to cement their legacy is here and now.

Beyond that, it will be good to see the youth of the team and what potential they have when they hit the field. Can Davis Mills cut the mustard in the NFL? Can Nico Collins add his name to the list of great Texans wide receivers? Can Garrett Wallow succeed where Duke Ejiofor couldn’t? Will John Reid make the final 53 and prove he was worth the draft pick?

We’ll find out soon...

L4BLITZER:

“Excitement” and “2021 Houston Texans” are mutually exclusive concepts. I think with this squad, it will be more a case of morbid curiosity to see just what happens with this iteration of the team. By all rights, this team will probably be somewhere between suck and historically bad. On top of that, there is no real “must-watch” superstars, since Watt is gone and Watson has most likely played his last snap for the team. Unless you just really, really care about the Texans as a team/extension of your allegiance to the city of Houston, you probably have no reason to pay attention to this team at all. If they are an actual favorite in a game, that will be a pleasant surprise. I think people will be “excited” to see if this squad can be the first to go 0-17.

Yet, I think I am just curious to see how this season will play out as an intellectual exercise. This is probably the first team in franchise history, to include the inaugural season, where I have no expectations of any degree of success, either for playoff/championship aspirations, or the sense of how they will improve. How will this sort of team, which is both the oldest and one of the least talented per individual player ratings, work on the field? Will they evolve into a plucky squad that fulfills all of the cliches about team, synergy and all other corporate/leadership buzzword bingo entries? Will they take their place among the worst of all time? Or, will this team somehow play an entire NFL season and do nothing of note of any sort (good, bad or ugly)...where the highlight reel will just consist of a slide saying “see you in 2022?”

Maybe we in Texans fandom will be pleasantly surprised, or maybe we will be entertained, much like watching a slow-motion trainwreck or a nature documentary where the Texans are some sort of prey, and the rest of the league are ferocious predators, killing their prey in spectacular and vivid fashion. Guess we’ll have to tune in to figure out what happens.

MATT WESTON:

I despised Bill O’Brien while we were in there. There was a better reality, beautiful alternative realities out there, when he was the coach of the Houston Texans. Yes, the Texans won division titles, yes Deshaun Watson was wild for five sultry weeks his rookie year, yes they made the playoffs, yes they had a 24 point lead in the Divisional Round. These are all things that happened. But this was the bare minimum. O’Brien was a disgusting fish who merely sucked the bottom.

During his tenure, he wasted J.J. Watt’s prime, wasted the best pass defense the Texans ever had in 2016, wasted Deshaun Watson’s rookie contract, and wasted the Texans top draft capital for Laremy Tunsil. This man really looked at one of the worst pass defenses in the league and thought he was an Eric Murray away from fielding a Super Bowl caliber defense.

Throughout his tenure he pushed everyone out, pointing his fingers, spreading the blame, until eventually each one had been chopped off. It was Charles Godsey, it was Rick Smith, it was [NAME REDACTED], it was Brian Gaine, it was Jadeveon Clowney, it was DeAndre Hopkins, and then there were known. It was only him. He had pushed everyone out until he had hole sole control of the franchise—turning a talented football team into a talentless one that even with a top five quarterback, could only muster four wins.

Everyone else is gone, but most importantly, O’Brien is too. Eviscerated in the fire he created. The Texans should have been a Super Bowl caliber team last decade. They weren’t because of O’Brien’s archaic offense, and even worse general manager decisions. They had the nucleus required for a football team to remain competitive year after year—who requested for a trade, and now remains fighting through sexual assault allegations. Considering the talent on the roster, the past couldn’t go any worse than how it did.

Thankfully, David Culley is here. His smile, his love for nachos, his infinite celestial happiness, some blue skinned deity. I’m happy he’s happy. I’m happy he finally got the big job, gets the chance to manage a rebuild for two years, and keep the rats on this sinking ship happy, until the Texans maybe, hopefully are competent again in the next few years.

Seeing Culley instead of O’Brien is what I’m most excited for. As bad as this present will be, we can at least finally move on from the limited past.

CARLOS FLORES:

The thing I’m most excited to see actually has nothing to do with the on-field product. Naturally, we’ll all watch in horrified wonder at the product this team puts out there. However, I’m more interested in people-watching the crowds. Of course there will still be a mostly full house, but I want to see the folks sitting in the stands looking at their phones from their paid company seats. I want to see the Ultimate Texan hang his torso over the railing. I want to see my former coworker steaming in his seat because he couldn’t find a dope big enough to buy his season tickets. There should be plenty of memeable screen grabs this season.

On-field, I just want to see Davis Mills. Tyrod is a serviceable starter but this team doesn’t need to be dragged into an unnecessary win or two, let the kid play.

BFD:

There is nothing I am excited about as far as watching the Texans this year.

All the talk about competition is pure wankery, completely meaningless and does not lead to a better team.

No DW4. No JJ Watt. Throwing QB2LastNames into the fire would be a horrible idea considering where he is as far as development (he has 11 starts since HS, for kitten’s sake).

Both the defense and the offense are old, and these might be the two worse units in the entirety of the NFL.

The only decent, young players on the roster are Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, and Justin Reid. Instead of signing UDFAs for four year deals, we signed a bunch of has beens and never wases to one year deals.

As bad as the roster talent is, the front office talent is even worse. I can give Nick Caserio a temporary pass considering the situation, but the ownership is awful and Jack Easterby’s continued presence is absurd.

This is going to be a miserable team to watch in 2021, and there is little currently on the roster that will make a difference once the Texans are relevant again.

DIEHARD CHRIS:

Sadly, I have no excitement to watch my pro football team for the first time in my life. All the Oilers years, all the Texans years - I’ve at LEAST been excited to watch football again - THEIR football, no matter how bad it had gotten. This is the first time in my entire life I’m not excited about my team AT ALL. I am always excited for football to be back, but it will more be wrapped in following the League as a whole rather than the Texans. Sad but true.