Let’s be honest with ourselves. The Texans’ roster is terrible and decrepit. There has been problems with the defense for years now, the offensive line could never gel together, Bill O’Brien allowed the top talent to evaporate from the roster or even expunged it himself. Despite Deshaun Watson playing at a top five level, the Texans only won four games—and no, you can’t talk about one possession record after you ignored one possession record in 2019 because the Texans ‘JUST KNOW HOW TO WIN CLOSE GAMES’—in 2020.
I know this. You know this, deep in your heart even if you try and fight it. We don’t need Pro Football Focus Grades or DVOA to verify the Texans’ awful talent level. Just look at the cornerback group. Look at the quarterback. Look at the interior offensive line. Look at the pass rush.
Although we don’t need actual data, analysis, or statistics to prove what we know, we have it. Pro Football Focus, viaESPN, recently ranked the NFL by overall roster talent. Your Houston Texans finished 32nd. Please read more below:
32. Houston Texans
Biggest strength: There are valid arguments to be made that Houston gave up too much to bring in left tackle Laremy Tunsil, considering the trade compensation and financial compensation that the move ultimately cost them. However, it’s hard to argue with his on-field performance. Tunsil has been excellent in pass protection for the Texans over the past two seasons. He has graded out in the 94th percentile of all offensive tackles in pass-blocking grade since 2019 on an offense that did him few favors schematically.
Tunsil, combined with Tytus Howard (if he remains at right tackle) is Houston’s best positional group. Both players need to find another level at run blocking, especially with an expected offensive scheme change, Tim Kelly’s recent comments about running the ball, and who is at quarterback to become complete players.
Biggest weakness: Houston’s defensive line ranked dead last in PFF overall grade as a unit (47.0) in 2020. And that was despite J.J. Watt earning an 85.4 overall grade on more than 1,000 defensive snaps. It’s hard to have much optimism surrounding this group with Shaq Lawson stepping in for Watt. The Texans will need younger players, such as Charles Omenihu and Ross Blacklock, to take big steps forward if their defensive line is to be anything other than the NFL’s worst such unit again this season.
Close your eyes and pick one. It’s all bad. Most football analysis regarding Houston has harped on defensive line play. Houston is going to need Maliek Collins to fight back from injury, along with Charles Omenihu stepping up, to become playable against the run. The Texans also desperately need Blacklock to do something next season.
Personally, I’d pick the secondary as the bigger problem. They have one viable cornerback in Bradley Roby; the rest is terrible. Justin Reid has stagnated and has been moved around from deep middle to in the box, and he has fought through shoulder injuries. Lonnie Johnson Jr. hasn’t shown an ability to put his body in the right place to play the ball.
X factor for 2021: Quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s career arc has been fascinating. He went from being a relatively successful three-year starter in Buffalo — he earned three consecutive grades of 75.0 or higher and led the Bills to their first playoff appearance in nearly two decades — to fluctuating roles between bridge starter and backup option. We’re projecting Taylor to be the short-term solution for the Texans — Deshaun Watson is facing 22 lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior — and rookie draft pick Davis Mills will have to acclimate to life in the NFL. There’s always the chance that Taylor gets back to providing quality play as a starter with this potential new opportunity in Houston.
Yeah, there’s some idea that in a run heavy offensive scheme, Taylor can be what he was in Buffalo. But 2017 was a long time ago. Taylor was noticeably less elusive in his one start in Los Angeles last year; at the age of 32 this season, it’s hard to expect for him to be able to run the same run heavy offense he did before. That, and the Texans’ defense won’t allow Houston to stick to the run as much as they may want to.
As a passer, Taylor is pretty blunt. He doesn’t have the quick game accuracy or precision you’d want. Downfield, he merely gets it close enough to the jackpot. None of this jives well with what the Texans currently have at the wide receiver position.
Give me Desmond King as my X-Factor. As long as he isn’t playing man coverage in the slot, he’s a difference maker. Lovie Smith’s zone defense should put King in plenty of positions to make plays. He could have a big season and then go get paid somewhere else, a la Tyrann Mathieu.
The Texans are bad. A lot of places are going to write bad things about them. If you want to feel good about yourself, look inward. Don’t turn to the Houston Texans for your own well being and placement in the universe.