The braintrust here at Battle Red Blog got together to answer a proposed question heading into the first week of the season:
Will the Houston Texans improve on their four-win season this year? Why or why not?
Their answers may surprise you...
This is another three to six win team, so it’s entirely possibly they will beat last year’s four victories. But, honestly, who cares? Just enjoy watching the kids for a change. Only the offensive line is currently even an average unit, though RBs might join that depending on Pierce’s development. I think the defense is especially likely to struggle. The 2021 squad played out of its gourd at times, especially when considering the talent level. Plus, the team was lucky with takeaways last year after barely getting any in 2020. That’s where I think we will see the most regression.
For me (I really like corn), it’s a matter of breaking down the winnable, non-winnable, and upset potential games. The ‘winnable’ games are Bears, both Jaguars games, Giants, and Commanders.
The ‘non-winnable’ games are Broncos, Chargers, and Chiefs.
By this breakdown, the Texans can and should get to five wins through bottom-barrel opponents. All of those teams equally can beat us though, but it’s more about finding wins in the upset potential games. Cleveland and Dallas offer two games with added energy and juice from outside circumstances. This isn’t the most strenuous schedule and if healthy the Texans can squeak out a few wins in a three-game stretch against the NFL East in Weeks 9-11 as they face the Eagles, Giants, and Commanders.
Three wins can possibly come from home games: Jaguars, Commanders, and Browns. Then finding two wins from a combination of Eagles, Titans, Colts, Bears, and Giants isn’t far fetched.
To answer, yes. They’ll hit five wins by Week 14 before tailing off the rest of the season. Those wins will be against the Jags at home, Commanders, Browns, Colts, and Giants.
To paraphrase a certain political figure from the 1990s: It depends on what your definition of “improve” is? If you look at the quantitative numbers of wins/losses and statistical type stuff, I am not so sure that 2022 will be all that much better than 2021. The team is still lacking a lot of key starting-level talent. There are few, if any players, on the Texans that will keep opposing coaching staffs and players up at night worrying. They are playing a harder schedule and with a generally younger squad, they are likely to struggle more, especially at the start of the season.
That being said, there are some good young players on the roster. The team is finally getting around to clearing out the deadwood, and by the 2022-2023 off-season, the squad should be much further along on the rebuild. Lovie Smith brings actual head coaching experience, so that should mean fewer (in theory) WTF head coaching decisions. The 2021 team at least evolved into a squad by the end of the year that no one wanted to play, and I think we can get there with the 2022 squad, with perhaps even better quality play.
I think the same win range (3-6) is in play this year as it was last year. The Caserio/Smith regime will get somewhat of a grace period this season if they finish 3-14 or 4-13 again. That will not be the case hereafter.
In order to improve from four wins, you have to get five, and that number is absolutely plausible. They get to play the Jaguars twice, Giants and Bears. The Commanders game is also winnable, especially with that game in Houston. There’s also a chance the Texans grab a win this weekend against the Colts. It’s hard to tell at the beginning of the season how many games this team can win, but it’s too early to rule out any scenario. Except maybe the Super Bowl. That probably won’t happen. But the Bengals went from four wins to the Super Bowl, so maybe anything really is possible?
I would look at the roster of that four win season, and then at this roster. I think this roster is more talented, then I look at the schedule and ask are there 5-6 winnable games? Yes. So I feel like we can get to maybe as high as 6 wins this year, which is an improvement from last year.
I’m in lockstep with BFD on this one, it’s all about if the kids are alright. After Nick Caserio’s first full draft class with more than day 3 picks in hand we are looking at three new rookie starters (BoB eat your heart out). Checking on their progress throughout the year as well as the other young depth pieces acquired recently should be on most fans minds this year. A 5 win season isn’t out of the question and would most certainly imply picking closer to 10 than first overall in the upcoming draft. However this is still a roster yearning for more star talent to pair with Caserio’s special team and depth player focus the past couple of offseasons.
Last year the Texans managed to win four games; two of them were by sheer dumb luck and the other two were the Jacksonville Jaguars. This team might be an improvement over the last team (and they absolutely are) but this is still not what you would call a quality roster. This roster isn’t making the Chiefs quake in their boots. And dumb luck is still very much a thing in football so I’m going to say two Jags wins, two dumb luck wins (wild guess: Raiders and Eagles), and two games won on being just a little better (Bears and Giants).
So yeah, I’ll say six wins is probably their ceiling with 4-5 being more likely.