On Tuesday, we took a look at the offensive side of the ball. Today, we will take a look at the defensive side. If you didn’t catch that article we were basically laying the foundation of how we will approach things in 2022. As you can tell from our last Groupthink, none of us expect the Texans to be a winning team this year. That doesn’t mean that good things won’t happen.
When the season gets under away on Sunday we will begin looking for silver linings every week. The defense certainly had its moments last season and many of those same players are back this year. However, there are just enough new faces to make this season interesting no matter which direction it goes.
2022: Jonathan Greenard, Raheem Green, Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Ogbonnia Okornokwo, Maliek Collins, Roy Lopez, Michael Dwumfour, Thomas Booker, Kurt Hinish
The players in bold ink are newcomers this year. The name of the game on defense is the same as it was on offense. With the state of the cap in 2022 the Texans could not completely revamp their roster with studs. So, they replaced subpar or ineffective players with guys that were solid performers on their team. All of them are flawed in some way, so it will be interesting to see how they work together.
I’m not Nostradamus, but it is clear that the key will be the defensive ends. Outside of Greenard they are all new and each have had success in the league in the past. The likelihood of any of them having ten sacks or more is low, but if more than one can have five or more sacks it could be a much better season.
2022: Kamu Grugier-Hill, Christian Kirksey, Neville Hewitt, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Blake Cashman, Garrett Wallow, Jake Hansen
Christian Harris will figure into this picture eventually, but he was placed on injured reserve. The good news is that he is expected back after the first month. The bad news is that he didn’t get a ton of time in the preseason, so it remains to be seen what he can offer them this season.
None of these guys will make you forget Ray Lewis, but none of them are terrible either. It follows the Nick Caserio philosophy of populating the roster with decent players on short-term contracts. If they are good you can easily bring them back. If they aren’t then you can easily cut them after the season. The team likely will hope to get a stud here in the 2023 draft, but for now they will do.
2022: Steven Nelson, Derek Stingley Jr, Isaac Yiadom, Desmond King, Tremon Smith, Jonathan Owens, MJ Stewart, Jalen Pitre, Eric Murray
In the movie “Major League” the front office is given a list of guys they are inviting to Spring Training. One of them says, “I haven’t heard of half of these guys and the ones I’ve heard of are way past their prime.” Obviously, the situation isn’t that dire. Stingley and Pitre could be pro bowlers sooner than later. Nelson was a starter last season in the NFL. Stewart had some excellent grades in part-time duty in Cleveland.
You mix and match those guys with your returning players and this could be the most improved position group on the team. All that being said, it could be the most improved group because they were so deficient last season. Still, you get better faster when you jettison bad players and replace them with decent ones. The fact that two of them could be radically better than decent has to be cause for hope.
Putting it Together
You cannot put together a team of average players and expect them to be average. That seems counterintuitive, but football games aren’t won by holding down the fort across the board. They are won because great players make great plays. They are also won when you avoid making stupid ones. The Texans should be much better on the second front this season. The question will be whether Stingley and Pitre are ready to be great. They certainly look like they will be someday, but we don’t know how soon that day will come.
The Texans will be a better team on offense and defense this season. There is no denying that. The open question is whether they will improve enough to be competitive. In the past, they have managed to fill a few holes and returned to contention immediately. That isn’t likely to happen this time. There were just too many holes. You don’t find a unit with more than 10 new faces without needing to plug a lot of holes.