We felt nothing. We spent the summer hunched over black mirrors, scrolling, and feasting upon the regurgitation of Houston’s local sports media, to gather as much information as possible, regarding our favorite football team. Competition, COMPETITION, COMPETITION. Kahale Warring’s biceps, forever whisked away as he faces the cold dead reality of the practice squad. Vernon Hargreaves III plucking Davis Mills time and time again. Deshaun Watson standing back as a scout team safety so the offense can align themselves to various defenses, doing something he hasn’t done since he was a freshman in high school. Imagining five running backs at the same time in a David Culley offense. This is the life. Yes. This is living.
With the conclusion of the preseason, and NFL training camps, the Texans have finalized their 53 man roster. I asked the masthead the following question for this week’s groupthink:
What’s your biggest takeaway from the Texans 53 man roster?
These are their responses.
There are three players on the entire practice squad under 25 years old.
There are 12 players on the entire actual roster under 25 years old.
There are 31 players on the 53-man roster that were not on the team a year ago. That has to be one of the biggest roster turnovers in NFL history.
There’s no telling whether the 31 on this year’s roster are better than those who are no longer on the roster, but my dad always told me, “If you do the same thing, you get the same results.” Change was necessary and inevitable.
If the Texans end up with four wins or fewer again this year, at least they tried. There is a sense of interest with this roster because the newbies are essentially castoffs from other organizations looking for one more opportunity to stay or catch on in the NFL.
That’s why I’m dubbing this team “Last Chance HOU.”
My biggest takeaway from this roster is that you are expendable and living under a microscope with this organization.
The raw amount of turnover speaks to Nick Caserio’s hunger to change for the sake of change. What people fail to recognize is that all of this movement is just putting lipstick on a pig. Even without Deshaun Watson, this team had major structural issues that would never get resolved in an offseason.
That being said, I’m not holding this offseason against Caserio as he walked in with an anchor tied around his neck. However, this team sure looks different on the surface but will ultimately still disappoint.
Coming into the preseason, I did not have a lot of expectations, and the Texans did not exceed them. The preseason performance of the team did nothing to change the perception that this squad will be a serious contender for the first pick in the 2022 draft. If there is anything that can be extrapolated from the preseason, it is that this team will live and die with the performance of its defense.
In particular, can the defense force enough turnovers to help flip the balance of those games where the Texans can have half a chance at victory? Turnovers are a fickle mistress, and they can vary from year to year. Think of the 2014 Texans defense. Was that defense necessarily that much better than the 2013 version? Before the last month of the season, that Texans’ team was among the league leaders in total defense, but they only managed 11 turnovers. The 2014 team managed 34 turnovers, but they did not challenge for the league lead in total defense. The 2020 Texans were about as bad as you can get on defense, so there is the sense that the squad can’t do any worse. Only the 2018 49ers forced fewer turnovers than the 9 the 2020 Texans did. Just by law of averages, the 2021 Texans should exceed that.
Overall, this will be a tough, but weirdly strange season for the Texans. They won’t be good and they run the risk of being unwatchable. However, if the preseason performance of the D can carry over (and that is not always a certainty) into the regular season, the team could offer some pleasant surprises. There has to be something about 2021 for this team...may as well be the defense.
This is a talentless, ceilingless, and old roster.
The best player on the team is the left tackle. The next three best players are Justin Reid, a miscast at left guard Tytus Howard, and cornerback Desmond King. That’s incredibly depressing.
Instead of signing every young UDFA available, Nick Caserio’s strategy was to sign the fifth linebacker on everybody else’s roster. The difference between the 60th best LB and the 100th best LB is marginal at best. Caserio didn’t do anything overtly stupid like sign a high priced free agent—mostly because we didn’t have the money(!)—but he did nothing to improve the team.
The only unit even remotely average is the offensive line, and we couldn’t run the ball effectively against other team’s backups.
This team is full of Zach Diles Effect players. They’re going to play, they are going to put up some stats, but, ultimately, they’ll still suck.
The Tank Is In.
This season is just a placeholder to bridge the gap from Bill O’Brienpocalypse to Better Days.
The roster is full of disposable players on one-year deals, so that Houston can easily move on once they’ve swept the detritus of Bill O’Brien’s textbook mismanagement under the table.
Tyrod Taylor is a placeholder. Mark Ingram is a placeholder. Christian Kirksey is a placeholder. David Culley is a placeholder.
While I am intrigued with Lovie Smith – can he truly walk in the footsteps of Wade Phillips and (early on) Romeo Crennel? – I’m not in any way buying a narrative that has this defense performing in the NFL’s top 25 in any positive category.
The Texans have probably done more to run off their fans in the last year than any team in NFL history in a similar time span, and I don’t see anything reversing that trend until 2022, at least.
The 2021 season is a placeholder. And so is this roster.