In 2013, the Houston Astros recorded 111 losses, good for the worst record in franchise history. It was their third consecutive year of 100-plus losses. The team that had gotten Houston to its first ever World Series eight years earlier was long gone. What remained of the Astros was a sputtering wreck of a team, exhausted of talent, with no clear idea about how to move forward from there.
It was, not to put too fine a point on it, grim. The games were unwatchable, played in front of thousands of empty seats, and only the most loyal fans stuck with the team when there was no reason to stick with them.
What does any of this have to do with the Houston Texans? I’m getting to that...
Astros fans had one thing to cling onto: Hope.
In 2011, the Astros hired Jeff Luhnow as general manager to orchestrate the great rebuilding project facing the team. By 2013, the Astros had players in the farm system who would ultimately change the fate of the franchise in four short years. Astros fans sat through the dreck of the rebuild seasons and are now experiencing the single greatest period of success in team history.
The Houston Texans now find themselves in the same pit that the Astros were in nine years ago. The team in 2021 was borderline unwatchable, unless you watched them sarcastically or bet against them, in which case they were amazing. The talent pool had been drained, and if you had told me that former coach Bill O’Brien was planning on filling that pool with radioactive cement, I would not have doubted it for an instant.
That was then, though.
Texans GM Nick Caserio, in his second full year of the job, brought in nine new players in this year’s draft class, most of whom have the potential to contribute to the team immediately. This is in no small part due to the Deshaun Watson trade and various other smaller deals Caserio made in the previous season.
You can already start to see some of the potential just in this year’s training camp and preseason games.
Safety Jalen Pitre has wowed in training camp and been as good as advertised in the preseason. He will cause a lot of headaches for opponents who want to game plan against new head coach Lovie Smith’s defense.
Running back Dameon Pierce may already have cinched up the RB1 role just based on his outstanding performance against the Saints in the preseason.
Corner Derek Stingley Jr., the Texans’ top draft pick, has looked really good in limited action.
The talent the Texans lacked is starting to return in bits and pieces. Tuning in to watch the Texans solely rooting for them to win in the frankly ludicrous idea that they could go to the Super Bowl this year will leave you wishing you were dead, drunk, or dead drunk. But if you go into the season watching player development, you’ll get to see the kind of improvement in these prospects the way Astros fans watched Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Jose Altuve develop as baseball players. It’s the Texans’ turn now.
Now, let’s not mince words here, this year’s Texans team is going to be baaaaaaaaaaad. They might not be as bad as last year, but they will be hard to watch from a pure “put points on the board” perspective. In fact, per DraftKings’ Sportsbook, oddsmakers aren’t expecting the Texans to win more than four games this year, based on the 4.5 O/U on wins for the season.
Speaking for myself, I know I said the team is going to suck, and they are, but I think with this new infusion of talent, an actual head coach calling the plays, and no silly business from an alleged criminal sulking on the sideline, they can at least win five games this year. So I’m going to predict a 5-12 season for the Texans.
After all, they won four games last year, and two of those wins were flat-out lucky. The other two were the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Will Caserio be the next great GM of a Houston sports team á la Luhnow? I don’t know, I stopped predicting the future a long time ago. What I do know is we Texans fans have what the Astros had in 2013: Hope.
Look how well that turned out for them.