For seven long months we’ve been hanging around watching our football team immolate from within. Deshaun Watson’s trade request, David Culley’s hiring, Watson’s sexual abuse allegations, lack of draft capital, a horde of veteran signings, a new project quarterback, all cycled through our football team as we sifted through Pro Football Focus position group rankings, Football Outsider projections, rookie film rooms, and now training camp Twitter feeds. Tomorrow all this comes to an end. The Texans start their preseason against the Green Bay Packers and football kind of sort of becomes new again.
Lonnie Johnson at strong safety? The Texans offensive line combination? Tim Kelly’s newest offense? What are you most excited to watch for when the Texans play their first preseason game against the Packers?
This is the question I asked the masthead for this week’s groupthink. These are their answers:
For this iteration of the Houston Texans, without Deshaun Watson, the preseason is more interesting than the regular season. There are dozens of position battles, a new defense, and a revamped Tim Kelly offense hidden within a David Culley offense.
Of all the things, and if I have to pick one, I’ll go with the offensive line configuration. Left tackle is the only spot completely solidified. I still don’t think Max Scharping is a for sure starter in the NFL, after his disastrous sophomore season where he was weak and didn’t know who to block. I’m not on the Justin Britt train, like others, who automatically assume that if someone is signed by the Texans he suddenly becomes a competent player. And, most importantly, if Tytus Howard plays right tackle or right guard, and if he plays right tackle, who steps in at guard, because this player would be the initial chose to play over Scharping. All of this will change once Lane Taylor and Marcus Cannon get back from injury.
Oh, and of course, how good Max Scharping’s biceps look in August.
You’re getting fast and loose with the word “excited” there Mighty Matt. Sadly, there’s nothing about this version of the Houston Texans that excites me. It’s truly like an expansion franchise, complete with lots of people who have never done what they’re doing before, a roster famished for talent and way too many unknowns to have a real expectation of ensuing greatness. However, as with an expansion franchise, there’s great excitement around the promise of better tomorrows. Yep, this is like all that, but this one has massive baggage that smothered that potential excitement in it’s sleep whispering “competition” in it’s ear as it gasped it’s last breath.
As long as McEasterby is calling the shots - badly - there won’t be much to get excited about at all.
I am interested to see how much the sidelines will look like a clown car fire drill with David Culley calling the shots. He might be a great guy, but at the end of the day he’s not even one of the 50 best head coaches in the NFL, probably not even in the top 100. He’s the only guy who looked at the Houston Texans open head coaching position and didn’t back away quickly seeing the train wrecking ahead of him.
If the Deshaun Watson scenario wasn’t what it is, maybe the offense would at least give us some excitement. But, you simply can’t replace J.J. Watt, Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Arian Foster, Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of what made this team fun to watch just a few short years ago with 17 linebackers and 12 running backs who are reliant on two failed motivational speakers to call the shots.
There is no sugar-coating it, this team is going to be painful to watch for a long, long time.
And, they can’t even hide it from the world by closing and/or cancelling practice anymore.
To mirror my colleague and in the sage words of C-3PO, “exciting is hard the word I would choose.” That being said, for the first time in perhaps the entirety of Texans history, the preseason should be a time of immense curiosity. What is this new “character-driven” team, loaded to the gills with running backs and linebackers and lacking any stars with any degree of Q rating, going to look like on the field? Are we looking at the modern incarnation of the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs, only with slightly better color-schemes for their uniforms? Can the Texans offer any semblance of competency and/or the glimmer of promise of player development? Can we go at least an offensive series without someone mentioning #4 and his absence/displeasure with the team/legal issues?
I guess if there are any positive player developments to watch for, I will be interested to see how the tight ends do. In particular, the rise of Pharaoh Brown. He didn’t catch a lot of passes last year, but when he did, there was a good probability he was going to truck someone like Mark Bavaro in his prime. According to various insiders, Brown has been a star of training camp. Perhaps that should be taken with a grain of salt, as they said the same of John Reid last year, and well...yeah. Still, gotta have something to look forward to that is not all doom-watching of what the McEasterby’s have wrought and/or watching the Texans in-house media spin the latest RB/LB signing as some great unearthed gold nugget that will likely turn into another example of iron pyrite.
For me it’s the general tone and atmosphere surrounding the team. It’s been a complete circus for 14 months, of which 7 months the clowns have taken over the circus and freed all of the elephants to go work for the circus across town. There are a ton of new faces on the team. Usually that is a sign of vibrant anticipation, but could this be a roster full of veterans who are simply trying to cash in before they retire? I could see half of this starting defense not playing in the league in three years, which is not a fantastic sign for the franchise.
I would love to be in Green Bay to watch the sidelines. To see how the players interact with one another would shine a clear light on the situation inside NRG.
I’ll say this, this will be the second most important preseason game in franchise history only behind the first game against the Cowboys in ‘02. New quarterback. New head coach. New general manager. New everybody. I do not care if they win, what’s more important is the energy and integrity with which this team plays with. If it’s poor now, I cannot imagine when they have double digit losses hanging over them.
The season is coming to town. Are the Texans ready?