There really isn’t much good you can say about the offseason. It drags on forever, it gets really hot, but worst of all it’s incredibly BORING. But there is one underrated bright spot to it, it really feeds the anticipation of what we can expect to see on the field next season.
And it’s fertile ground for predictions and projections. Such as this article from the Mothership where John Harris and Deepi Sidhu discuss three areas of improvement for the Texans and three players they look forward to seeing possibly take the next step.
Since we’re short on material today, we’re gonna go through these kind of fast. So let’s get right to the three areas of the team that improved the most, at least according to Sidhu and Harris:
1) The OL is going to be better, health permitting. I just wrote about the OL in a Position Breakdown article and the one thing that stood out was that the Texans original starting five on the OL started just 46 out of a possible 85 times. If this line stays healthy, given the additions and the lack of deletions, there’s a chance it can start rounding into an OL that we’ll love to watch.
Honestly between the BOB era and the David Culley interregnum, I’d just be happy if we could get a single offensive line combination for most of, if not throughout, the season. Because, near as I could tell, nobody had the slightest idea how to put together an offensive line for the last several years.
2) The running back room has to be better. I love the addition of Marlon Mack, again, health permitting. To see what he has left in the tank after a couple of injury riddled seasons was worth the risk. Rookie Dameon Pierce was one of my favorite RBs in this draft class as well.
It literally could not be any worse than what we saw last season, which was a Rex Burkhead, David Johnson, Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay, and Mark Ingram (for a few minutes) hydra that ran all the way to dead last in yards per game and yards per attempt. I hope Pierce becomes the star running back that we had with Arian Foster, even if his running style is different.
3) The defensive front will be deeper, better and more explosive than it was in 2021. There are 17 players in the front four at this point, so it’ll be one heck of a competition for the final eight or nine spots in the 53-man roster. That competition should make for an even more effective group than in 2021.
Depth is something we’ve been sorely lacking on the Texans for a very long time, so I hope they’re right on this front.
Then there’s the three players who Sidhu/Harris think will make the jump next season.
1) WR Nico Collins - I remember a “year one to year two” jump a certain receiver made back in 2014. Some guy named DeAndre Hopkins stole the show as a second year pass catcher after a decent rookie campaign. I’d love to see Collins make a similar jump, even if it doesn’t result in the massive numbers Hop put up in his second campaign.
I’m not going to lie, I like Nico Collins a lot and I hope he does make that leap. But with Cooks cemented at the top, Metchie hungry and nipping at Collins’ heels, and Philip Dorsett still floating around, he’s going to have to make the leap fast.
2) DB Jalen Pitre - the rookie out of Baylor was such a fun watch last year, in particular, and he could give this defense a jolt in many ways.
Given how important safeties are to Lovie Smith’s defense, we NEED Pitre to catch up to the NFL’s speed and intensity and fast.
3) DL Rasheem Green - When he was at USC, I was high on his future. As such, I found my Harris 100 Scouting Report from 2018 when he was #51 in that year’s Harris 100:
“Drafting Green is more about the future benefits than the current benefits. He’s raw as can be, but is incredibly well put together and more than looks the part. He reminds me of a poor man’s Jonathan Allen (Alabama/Commanders). He bumps inside to pass rush in sub-package or passing down situations and I love the length. He doesn’t do any one thing, though, that I’d say is elite. He has adequate play strength, but doesn’t really have a true position. He more than likely has to play a one-gap 3-4 DE. As a one-gap 4-3 DT/3-technique, he’s still 10 to 15 pounds lighter than he needs to be to live inside permanently. He needs to use his hands way better, but he has the strength to do it, just doesn’t know how to do it yet. He’s freakishly fast, better put, he eats up space with his long strides. He plays up and down the line of scrimmage and I saw a number of teams run zone read at him and forced him to play in space when he’s aligned at defensive end. As such, he didn’t play it well. He plays with high pad level and I’ve seen him get pushed around way too much. He’s too athletic and gifted to get shoved around. In all, he’s raw clay with a bright future, he’s just choosing to get his NFL clock started now and will blossom at that level, instead of in his final year at USC.”
Here’s hoping that my thought about “future benefits” is right on and it happens in Houston.
Yeah, what they said!