The year is 2019. The Houston Texans are Super Bowl contenders going into the season with superstar talent rivaling the Chiefs. Led by quarterback Deshaun Watson, anything is possible. His trusty wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, is one of the three best players at this position. Houston recently addressed the left tackle position by acquiring left Laremy Tunsil from the Dolphins for the low, low, cost of two first round selections, a second round selection, and Julien Davenport. There’s no way this trade will screw them over in the future, right?
The defense is solid with a pass rushing tandem of fan favorite and future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt and Pro Bowler, Jadeveon Clowney [record scratch]...you traded Clowney for a third rounder and two role players? Actually, this a great trade, Clowney wanted to get paid, the Texans need depth, and the culture is more important than an individual player’s wishes. It can work.
After all that, the Texans in the division, make the NFL Playoffs, and get past the Bills to face the Chiefs. Look, the Texans have a 24-0 lead. There is no way they blow this. H-town is going to the AFC Championship Game.
They blew it...up 24-0...and they lost...51-31!!!?!?!
It’s all going to be okay. The Texans will make big moves to get better and come back stronger so they can take down the Chiefs and finally leap that hurdle. That’s not what I meant. DeAndre Hopkins is now in Arizona, and all it took was a second, a fourth, and David Johnson. Hilarious. Houston’s own second rounder becomes Brandin Cooks, turning it into a pick swap. The 2020 season starts and even though we don’t have Hopkins, and the defense wasn’t improved, we still have Watson. We’ll be fine. At least we have our first round pick. At least fan favorite J.J. Watt is still here. This can’t get any worse.
Deshaun Watson Requests Trade From Houston Texans. Someone get me another beer.
It was a sudden drop off from a near AFC Championship Game appearance to the bottom Houston is at today. Entering the 2021 NFL season, the Texans are the bettering favorite at +200 is to finish dead last this season. As terrible as Houston is, there are still numerous franchises in a similar spot to where the Texans find themselves. Let’s travel around the league to see who the worst franchise in the NFL really.
The New York Jets
This team is the one joke that will always be funny. Even if the Houston Texans have made fun of a lot recently, the Jets have been a laughing stock for a while now. Last season, the Jets couldn’t even tank right. New York finished 2-14, good enough to put them behind Jacksonville, leading to to the Jets’ selection of quarterback Zach Wilson from BYU instead of generational quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence.
Outside of Wilson, the Jets brought in what many believed to be the best head coach candidate on Robert Saleh along with many key free agents: Carl Lawson, Corey Davis, Tevin Coleman, and Sheldon Rankins. Saleh is expected to turn this franchise around and instill a winning culture in New Jersey. It’s going to take time to turn a 2-14 team into a playoff squad, but it’s reasonable to expect the Jets to at least be competent this season.
Verdict: Jets > Texans (That’s a strange thing to look at.)
The Detroit Lions
There is no team in the NFL that has wasted more Hall of Fame talent then Detroit. After wasting all time great running back Barry Sanders, they wasted Calvin Johnson’s career while concurrently wasting Matthew Stafford’s best years. Acquiring two first round picks for Stafford in a trade with the Rams was the best part of last offseason for Detroit.
So what are the Lions looking like now? An absolute train wreck. In past years, this team tried so hard to clone the Patriots by naming Matt Patricia as their head coach and former Patriot director of scouting Bob Quinn as their general manager. They filled their roster with former Patriots like Trey Flowers, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, and Danny Amendola.
Last season, the Lions finished 5-11 and statistically had the worst defense in the NFL, which is ironic considering Patricia was brought in to be a defensive mastermind. Like the Texans, the Lions don’t have much young talent or talent at all, for that matter. Outside the likes of Jeff Okudah and DeAndre Swift, there isn’t much Pro Bowl potential on the roster. However, what Detroit does have is a starting caliber quarterback in Jared Goff.
Verdict: Lions > Texans (Very close.)
The Jags are here because they finished 1-15 last season. The talent has already improved tremendously after spending big in free agency on guys like Shaquill Griffin, Rayshawn Jenkins, and wide receivers Marvin Jones and Jamal Agnew. On top of this, being the worst team in the NFL comes with the #1 pick, and with that pick they selected the greatest quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in Trevor Lawrence.
Yeah, it looks like they are going to be a little bit better than the Texans.
Verdict: Jags > Texans (Haven’t said that in a while.)
The Bengals can be summed up by one move, Ja’marr Chase over Penei Sewell. Joe Burrow was literally killed behind that thing they call an offensive line. To correct this issue, they signed 33 year old Riley Rieff to a one-year $7.5 million dollar deal to start at right tackle. That is they equivalent to slapping a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jamar Chase as a player, but they already have Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Sewell was being compared to the likes of Anthony Munoz, and the Bengals were the most offensive line needy team selecting in the top five last season.
At least the Bengals made numerous changes on defense. Yet there’s one move that puzzles me: letting Carl Lawson walk in free agency so they could sign a more expensive defensive end in Trey Hendrickson. I have huge concerns about Hendrickson. His sack totals don’t match his pass rush production, and he benefitted from playing on a deep New Orleans front. Cincy is paying him $20 million based on the idea that he can do more than Lawson with the same players Lawson had around him. The Bengals’ defense will be better this season after their offseason spending, but the decision to sign Hendrickson over Lawson makes zero sense.
Joe Burrow will be back. There is plenty of wide receiver talent around him, even if the ball will have to be out immediately. If Burrow is healthy, he’s going to have a huge bounce back season and potentially win Comeback Player of the Year if Dak Prescott underperforms.
Verdict: Bengals > Texans (Trey Hendrickson or Carl Lawson? Comment below.)
The Eagles are an interesting team. They play in the worst division in football, but their starting quarterback is Jalen Hurts. This feels a lot like a Drew Lock situation where he plays well in a few games, becomes the projected starter for the following season, but underperforms drastically and everyone says they told you so. If Hurts can put it together and become a solid quarterback, Philly will be fine.
However, this team is always defined by one thing...injuries. Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Andre Dillard, and Jason Peters all missed time last season, and that’s just on their offensive line. If this team can stay healthy, they could be something, but that’s a huge issue for an aging team. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Darius Slay, and Miles Sanders are all playmakers. Drafting Devonte Smith will hopefully take off some of the pain of taking Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside over D.K. Metcalf. If the Eagles manage to stay healthy, they too are better than the Texans.
Verdict: Eagles > Texans (Philadelphia is still too hungover from their Super Bowl Parade to fully acknowledge how bad their team is.)
Well. well. well...would you look at that? The Texans are the worst team in football. How shocking! A look around the bottom takes us directly to Houston. A bad defense improved by aging veterans. Deshaun Watson sitting out. A reliance on the worst run game in football. Houston is dead last, but at least they’ll have a high first round pick to make up for it next year.