The recent past of the Houston Texans is a rather dark affair. Hopefully, the future is much brighter, particularly with a new head coach, team philosophy, better roster and more on the horizon. Oh, and new uniforms too.
2022 didn’t bring much for Texans fans. In fact the bad very much outweighed the good. But, at least Jack Easterby is now a (bad) memory. And, the promise of new beginnings that comes every off-season has a lot more juice behind in than any in recent memory.
A few good things that did come from 2022 where the performances of some of the rookies and other young players on the team. Most notably, rookie running back Dameon Pierce and safety Jalen Pitre.
Houston Texans Rookie Standouts for 2022
Safety Jalen Pitre
Unlike the corner Houston selected ahead of him, the 37th pick in the 2022 NFL draft seems to excel no matter where a coach puts him on the field.
DB JALEN PITRE led all rookies and all defensive backs with 147 tackles, tied with BUDDA BAKER (147 tackles in 2019) for the most tackles by a defensive back since 2000.
Ranked tied for second among rookies with five interceptions and was one of two players (C.J. GARDNER-JOHNSON) with at least five interceptions and five tackles for loss (five).
Became fourth defensive back since 2000 with at least 125 tackles and five interceptions in a season, joining LANDON COLLINS (2016), RESHAD JONES (2015) and RODNEY HARRISON (2000).
Had five games with at least 10 tackles, most among rookies and most such games by a rookie defensive back in a season since 2010 (ALTERRAUN VERNER and T.J. WARD)
DB JALEN PITRE and DB JONATHAN OWENS became first pair of defensive back teammates each with at least 125 tackles since 2000.
Jalen Pitre Rookie Stats ‘22-23.— pitredroty (@pitredroty) January 10, 2023
99 SOLO TKL
Pitre is certainly the sort of keystone player to build a defense around.
Running Back Dameon Pierce
Prior to his injury and subsequent injured-reserve stash, Pierce was on pace to not only set the Houston Texans rookie record for rushing yards in a season, he was actually on track to topple one, if not more, of Texans great Arian Foster’s best season-yardage totals.
As it stands, Pierce still put the league on notice that he’s here to stay and play. Hard.
Young shiner.— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 12, 2023
One-of-four first-year players to tally over 1,100 scrimmage yards pic.twitter.com/Ho3vpVhLMt
Pierce’s prematurely shortened rookie campaign ended with 220 carries for 939 yards, a 4.3 yard per carry average, four rushing touchdowns, 30 catches for 165 yards and another score.
And that was all done in a floundering offense with little to no passing game threat on a regular basis. Once the NFL knew Pierce was legit, opposing defenses started stacking the box against him, and more often than not, Pierce still bulldozed his way to major yards.
Dameon Pierce is legit— sfDynastyFF (@Quintorris_) January 4, 2023
The Texans have their RB1 of the future pic.twitter.com/MFrnFwCwV1
Just wait until next season when the Houston offensive line has had more time to gel as a unit, there’s a (hopefully) real passing game installed and opposing defensive coordinators can’t just put 9+ guys on the line every play.
RB DAMEON PIERCE ranked fourth among rookies with 1,104 scrimmage yards (939 rushing yards, 165 receiving) and had five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving).
Became third Texans rookie in franchise history with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards, joining STEVE SLATON (2008) and DOMANICK WILLIAMS (2003).
Had nine games with at least 75 scrimmage yards, most among rookies.
Houston Texans Rookies Next in Line to Shine
Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
Sting was drafted #3 overall in the 2022 draft. The epitome of boom or bust prospect, many draft gurus lauded Sting as the best corner to come out in years. Others were less enthused due to the young LSU product’s injury history; that same injury history that ended his rookie campaign well before the actual end of the season.
Multiple sources indicated Sting was former head coach Lovie Smith’s choice du jour. Smith seemed to prefer Sting over other hot cornerback prospect Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. Fast forward to the end of the year and Sauce very much outperformed Sting in their rookie campaigns. However, if you dig into the analysis, Sauce was put in position to succeed time and again while Sting was often misused in the nine games he saw before a hamstring injury ended his season.
Did Sting actually stand out? Not really. Hopefully whomever comes in as the new Texans defensive coordinator will employ the second year corner better than Smith did in 2022. He has the tools, skills and natural ability to be a Pro Bowler - now he needs the coaching and scheme that will set him up for success.
Offensive Guard Kenyon Green
One of the hardest things to do as an NFL rookie is sliding into an offensive line that already lacks stability and then perform like an all-pro. Sure, some rookies manage to do it, but the majority struggle for a time.
Enter Kenyon Green.
Thankfully for Green, not only does he bring diversity to the position with him, but he’s used to adapting to new surroundings. It doesn’t hurt that he knows full well what the man on his left and right need to do, and need him doing as well.
The Texas A&M offensive lineman was the only player in the FBS in 2021 with at least 75 snaps at left tackle, left guard, right guard and right tackle. Green earned All-America honors in 2020 and 2021 and played at all five positions along the offensive line during his A&M career. He also started every game in his three seasons at Texas A&M.
Green expressed his excitement about playing in his hometown. Green is from Humble, Texas, which is located less than 20 miles north of Houston, and Texas A&M is about 100 miles from his new football home, NRG Stadium. This is the first time the Texans have taken an A&M player within the first four rounds of the draft.
Houston Texans offensive line coach George Warhop still views first-round guard Kenyon Green as a “work in progress.” https://t.co/RhclIgwVY2— The Texans Wire (@TheTexansWire) January 2, 2023
Wide Receiver John Metchie III
Metchie played the 2021 season for the Alabama Crimson Tide and racked up 1,142 yards on 96 catches and eight touchdowns. The Texans took Metchie with the 44th overall pick in last year’s draft. Unfortunately, the future receiving star was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia last summer and had to sit out the season while battling the disease.
Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio
I’d say there’s a chance that he’ll be ready for the start of the offseason program. I think there are still some things that he has to complete or go through. Quite frankly, it’s amazing what he’s done to this point. He actually looks better now than he did when we drafted him in the spring. He’s improved his strength, he’s improved his lower body strength. His attitude has been great, even though he’s been dealing with a lot of things medically.
Most mock drafts have the Texans selecting Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. That is, if the Indianapolis Colts or some other quarterback needy team doesn’t pull off a trade with the Chicago Bears to leapfrog Houston into the top spot. Young to Metchie was a legit threat in ‘Bama. Odds are, that threat would continue in battle red.
Bryce Young to John Metchie— Alabama DieHards (@DiehardsAlabama) December 4, 2021
Alabama has the lead pic.twitter.com/pCLhNvy6UV