Competition, COMPETITION, COMPETITION, say it with me. The Texans have been competing all offseason, with the man in the mirror, and their teammates. Last week was the first time Houston had the chance to put the helmets on and run around and get the chance to operate under a David Culley regime.
During OTAs there were numerous nuggets discovered. Culley’s love of coaching, wait that is a given, what the Texans may do with Marcus Cannon, Nick Caserio’s opinion of players entering free agency next year, Jack Easterby wishing he could play nose tackle, and Tim Kelly needs to run the ball more.
For this week’s groupthink I asked the masthead the following question: What was your biggest takeaway from the Texans OTAs? These are our responses.
We are still trying OH SO HARD to be the Patriots of the South, but the front office has no idea what that means.
Sign a bunch of ex-Pats? Check. Take the name off their jerseys? Check. Talk about meaningless drivel like competition? Check and check.
Ultimately, the problems are that we don’t have Tom Brady as quarterback nor Bill Belichick as the head coach. Considering Brady was about 93% of the Patriots’ success with Belichick as the other 7%, those are big problems.
It seems like the number of things that have changed between the 2020 Texans and the 2021 version are pretty limited, just massive in impact. Instead of Bill O’Brien’s explosive, melodramatic personality, we get David Culley’s toxic positivity. Maybe the offensive scheme won’t be so sucky! Maybe! Instead of Deshaun Watson, we get Tyrod Taylor. J.J. Watt is no longer a Texan.
Otherwise, this is a team trying to emulate another team that had grand success, but it doesn’t understand the why or how.
One of the rare bright spots on this team is the tackle position. With Tytus Howard at right tackle, a player who has been very good in pass protection, an absolute globe, impossible to get around, but terrible in the run game, and Laremy Tunsil at left tackle, Houston has some fancy bookends.
This is the Texans of course. A good thing can never just be a good thing. Earlier this offseason Houston traded for Marcus Cannon. The Texans swapped picks, and took on his contract to facilitate this trade. Cannon skipped out on football last year, and is a player who is a much better run blocker than pass protector—his pass protection won’t hold up when protecting a quarterback who doesn’t get the ball out in 2.37 seconds.
The idea was that Cannon would move to right guard, Houston would hold an open competition at left guard, maybe Justin Britt could find average on a cheap contract, and the Texans would keep Howard and Tunsil at tackle. That would make too much sense.
Instead, the Texans are already talking about how Cannon is a right tackle, which he barely was in New England. This means they would move Howard back to inside, a spot he was crappy at his rookie year, and mitigating what he was best at, pass protection.
Developing young talent, let alone playing young talent, is one of a hundred or so problems the Texans have had in recent years. Already the Texans are continuing this same infatuation with veteran talent over youth. This is coming from a team that is one, going to be really bad, two, is really old, and three, should be rebuilding. We aren’t talking about a Super Bowl contending team that is playing a better veteran over a year three player. We are talking about a team that is thinking about relegating a bright young player so a veteran can stand in the same place he’s been in. It’s absurd, asinine, and completely ridiculous.
Howard should play right tackle. Moving him inside is a waste of his talent. Picking a veteran over a young player at a premium position doesn’t make any sense.
Who knows how this offensive line battle will play out, and who will end up where. Everything is up in the air for this team, aside from a few positions. That being said, Cannon playing right tackle over Howard shouldn’t even be mentioned, it shouldn’t even be in the realm of possibilities. Yet, here we are, and the Texans are still pondering making the same mistakes they have already made.
When everything lies in the future, you have to look for glints, for smart moves that can provide an outlook for far away days. So far, the Texans have kept their heads in the sand, and refuse to move on from their previous failures.
Biggest Takeaway from the OTAs? Biggest takeaways from the OTAs...well, the Earth did not crash into the Sun, we have not blundered our way into a nuclear holocaust and the Astros continue to play the role of formidable villain. As for the team itself...I don’t think we have any real clue as to what will be on the field come September. Culley showed himself a player’s coach, but will that still be the case when the actions on the field actually start to count? Otherwise, I don’t think we learned ANYTHING about the on-field product. At least Deshaun Watson didn’t have to pay any fines for missing mandatory team activities, which is a good thing for him, as the legal fees will continue to dominate the debit side of his personal finance ledger.
As for other matters, well, there are indications that the Texans think/hope that the league will give them some clarity about the Watson situation by training camp. Perhaps things will change quickly, but I don’t hold out much hope. If nothing else, it would probably restart the bidding if the league decides to make a call, and for the Texans brain trust, that might be a desired outcome. Granted, it would probably be better to know what the trade market looks like at the end of the season, when the team can probably off-load Watson for the best deal. However, if there is a decent offer for Watson by/during training camp, the team will execute, just to end the ambiguity and move forward.
Overall, the information coming out of OTAs has not changed in the slightest my perception that 2021 will be a lost season. I would like to see something that will disprove that, but barring the player development aspect of the coaching staff, which we won’t really see until the games start, it is not happening. I guess the best thing about ending OTAs early is that the team will (hopefully) spend less time in headlines, for it seems that in 2021, the more the Texans are in the news, the worse it gets for them (and us the fanbase).
I think the expectations for Justin Reid this season and the trust the defensive coaches have placed on him.
Outside of possibly Zach Cunningham, Reid is the best Texans defender and one of the captains of the defense, a larger role than he once held after J.J. Watt’s departure.
I do think Reid has a higher ceiling in this defense compared to Anthony Weaver’s defense and in a contract year, I would expect Reid to be the brightest spot on the defense this year. I’d also say that OTA’s confirmed that for me.
The biggest takeaway from OTA’s is that this team is who we thought they were, which is a courtroom sketch version of the Patriots.
The idea of competition has been pounded into our heads incessantly. So much so, that what remains of my brain is a few chunks in a soupy concoction. Few signings inspire confidence. It all just feels like change for the sake of change, but we’ll see how it shakes out over camp. Nico Collins seems pretty cool, though.