A lot of people in the Houston football area thought the Texans had one of the worst, if not the worst, offseason in the NFL. They didn’t have their own first or second round draft picks, which came in at #3 and #35 overall. Because of the Deshaun Watson sexual assault allegations, the Texans were unable to trade him before the draft, forcing Watson to stay on the roster for another season and delaying the rebuild.
Is this a rebuilding? No one knows. There was a schism between the future and the now. The Texans didn’t sign young players for the future; they signed a litany of veteran free agents to one-year contracts. They also restructured existing contracts to increase their available cap space for this season, lowering their cap space for future seasons. They traded draft picks for third-string quarterbacks who were immediately released, Marcus Cannon, and to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft.
I don’t know what the Texans’ plan was this offseason. They cast a wide net. They created the competition they desired. The culture of being better is here. But the Texans aren’t a better team, and they aren’t set up for the future any better either. The actual thing that matters, accruing talent, was overlooked for the softy and fuzzy.
Bill Barnwell recently ranked the worst offseasons in the NFL. For all the haters and losers who thought the Texans had the worst offseason, they will have to hate themselves instead and project their vile and insipid thoughts inwards rather than outwards on this football team. Barnwell had the Texans ranked 29th, not 32nd, just ahead of Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and Las Vegas:
29. Houston Texans
What went right: The Texans didn’t do anything to send the franchise backward this offseason, so they took a small step in the right direction. New general manager Nick Caserio’s plan in free agency was clear, as the Texans added a staggering 32 veterans to their roster. The vast majority arrived on one-year deals, so this might not be a viable long-term strategy, but they should be deeper across the board and much better on special teams in 2021.
When you are stepping in for Bill O’Brien, just not stepping on your own toes is enough to get better in 2021. Not making a disastrous trade is what went right this offseason. The decisions the Texans made to improve the team weren’t.
What went wrong: Where to begin? Deshaun Watson reportedly requested a trade out of Houston after the disastrous events of 2019 and 2020. He was then accused of sexual assault by 22 women, leaving his status for 2021 in limbo. The Texans did not seem inclined to trade Watson for a haul of draft picks after his request, but until his cases are resolved, there’s no way the team can even trade its quarterback.
On top of that, nobody seemed to want the Texans’ head-coaching job. They ended up hiring Ravens passing game coordinator David Culley, who had never been on an NFL head-coaching radar before getting the Texans job at age 65. Culley is widely regarded as a good human being and has plenty of experience, but it’s hard to see how the veteran coach isn’t being set up to fail.
By being unable to trade Watson, who the Texans reportedly knew had sexual assault allegations coming before they were reported, thought their own toxic positivity could save the day. Watson has to be the springboard to the next good Texans team. If he isn’t, it’s going to be a long time before this team is good again. The jump off this diving board will have to be delayed for at least another season.
Culley is a leader, a guidance counselor, an FCA pastor. He’s here to keep morale high for a horrendous team through the next two seasons. I don’t think Houston wanted a head football coach. They wanted a motivational speaker.
I would also add the contract restructures done for Laremy Tunsil, Zach Cunningham, and Whitney Mercilus should be at the top of the list of what went wrong these past few months. Houston kicked cap savings for next to this year so they could sign three running backs, seventeen linebackers, and dozens of other veteran players.
What they could have done differently: Done something else besides draft a quarterback in the third round. Houston signed Tyrod Taylor in the event that Watson isn’t ready to start the season, but it was a surprise to see the team use its first selection in the 2021 draft on Stanford quarterback Davis Mills. The track record for quarterbacks with ideal size and arm strength who fall out of the top two rounds (or really the first round) just isn’t very good. Mills had only 11 starts at Stanford and didn’t get to go through a traditional combine, so the Texans could argue that Mills slipped through the cracks, but that’s the sort of shot a team with lots of talent should be taking in the middle rounds. This is not that team.
What’s left to do: Fast-forward through the 2021 season. With their missing draft picks and the Watson situation still unresolved, 2021 already shapes up like a lost year for the Texans. Their underlying performance in 2020 would have projected them to improve in 2021 if Watson was in the fold — and they are unlikely to be completely terrible after adding so many veterans — but they’ve gone from being a top-heavy team to one without star power.
Yep, that sums it up well. This season is going to be all about catfishing Kahale Warring from your girlfriend’s Instagram and watching David Culley lapse into insanity before our eyes as he learns to hate the game he loves. Because, as we all know, the actual football won’t matter much.