Shaun Bijani and Brandon Scott are the two people most responsible for content on 610 AM’s main website. The two cover all three major sports teams in the Houston market in addition to the major college teams in the area. So, no one is a better source for inside information when it comes to your Houston Texans. Bijani kindly agreed to sit dowb with us to answer five questions about the Texans now that the draft is in the rearview mirror.
Battle Red Blog: What do you think are reasonable expectations for C.J. Stroud in year one? Where do you see his ceiling when he does reach his potential?
Shaun Bijani: From the 2017 season through the 2022 season, there have been 15 rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. The average number of games rookies have played in during that stretch is 13.6 games. Through that same stretch, rookie quarterbacks have averaged 3,217 yards and 18.7 touchdowns thrown. While all 15 quarterbacks didn’t start/play in ALL of their teams games respectively, the average number of wins for a rookie quarterbacks team over the last six seasons is 4.9. There are only two instances, both of which have occurred in the past two seasons, in which a rookie’s team finished above .500 for the regular season. In 2021, Mac Jones started all 17 games for the Patriots, led them to a wild card spot in which they eventually got destroyed 47-17 by the Bills. Last season, Kenny Pickett started 12 games for the Steelers, played in 13 and helped them to a 9-8 finish.
Given the track record of quarterbacks within the past six seasons, the state of the Texans organization after a successful draft and free agency period, new coaching staff and the organizations interest in once again being competitive, I’d safely say that expecting statistical averages from the sample size of 15 quarterbacks is fair. I would also expect the teams overall performance to be better than the average of 4.9 wins for Stroud’s rookie season given the upgrades they’ve managed to make in every position group on the roster.
As far as his ceiling is concerned, I think it’s impossible to answer that without having watched him perform at the NFL level yet. However, I’d anticipate Stroud developing into the caliber of quarterback that commands consideration for pro bowl honors regularly and should go down as the best quarterback in Texans franchise history. That means being better than David Carr, Matt Schaub and sticking around longer than the knucklehead DeShaun Watson did.
BRB: Obviously, Nick Caserio gave up a lot to get Will Anderson. Do you think the gamble will ultimately be worth it? If not, what would you have liked to have seen the team do there instead?
SB: They tanked and acquired draft capital the previous two seasons for a reason. They needed a quarterback and someone they thought could be a cornerstone of a defense. They managed to get both. Sure, it was at a premium price. But, it was the price you make someone pay that is desperate. The Texans were indeed desperate to acquire a player that could excite a fanbase and be the productive pass rusher they haven’t had since JJ Watt. They played a dangerous game organizationally in previous years and it cost them. It’ll be worth it if one of their top two picks turns into a legitimate face of the franchise. Technically, both Stroud and Anderson are just that, but only because of what they’ve accomplished in college and where they were drafted and by whom. Regardless of how they got there and executed the picks, I don’t know that I would’ve liked to see them do anything but what they did.
BRB: Most of the focus will be on Anderson and Stroud, but who are one or two guys from day two and three that you think the Texans fan base should keep their eye on? Do you have a personal favorite selection?
SB: Tank Dell is an easy one for me. Sure he’s a former Coog, but more than that, the guy the Texans drafted to be their future at quarterback wanted him. Badly.
He’s undersized at 5’8 and 165 pounds but, whatever. Dude is quick, fast, can catch and is just an all out baller. He’s just a DAWG. His talents as a receiver are something devoted college football fans know and understand, but I’ll bet when the Texans selected Dell in the 3rd round, Texans special teams coordinator Frank Ross hadn’t jumped that high since high school. Adding that kind of electric talent to one of the best special teams units in football could be really special.
I’m intrigued by former Alabama linebacker Henry To’oTo’o. He called the defense for the Crimson Tide and the hope is that he learns and develops quickly under some veterans in Denzel Perryman, Cory Littleton and Christian Kirksey to one day be a regular contributor next to Cristian Harris.
BRB: June 1st will bring another round of cuts and movement in free agency. Are there any positions you think the Texans should target?
SB: They have more depth at the position than they did a year ago, but there is a lot of unknown and unproven next to guys like Robert Woods in the receiver core. Nobody knows what will come of Nico Collins as he enters year three in the league. He’s underwhelmed, but that’s understandable with the horrid QB play he’s had his first two years. Everyone is obviously hoping for the best from John Metchie III but what he’s going to be able to do when he gets back onto a field is widely unknown for a guy that spent the past year battling cancer.
Noah Brown is coming off of his best season as a pro with the Cowboys and his size and physicality at 6’2, 225 pounds is a good thing. However, it remains to be seen if he’s ready to take the next step or if his breakout ‘22 season was simply a product of the “system” in Dallas. There’s always excitement around the rookies, and maybe none more so in the receiver core in recent years than for Tank Dell. He, along with 6th round pick Xavier Hutchinson were two of the best receivers in all of college football this past season but we’ll have to wait and see how quickly they can both adapt to the NFL and catch passes from a rookie quarterback.
BRB: Vegas had the Texans at 5.5 wins before the draft. If I set the number at 6.5 are you going over or under? Are there any developments (on the positive end) that could change that number significantly?
SB: I’d take the over. Slightly.
It’s football and it’s the AFC South. Crazy things happen every year. From a historical perspective, 20 times in the last 22 seasons there has been at least one team that finished last in their division to only win the division the following season. No, I’m not predicting the Texans win the division in 2023, but I am predicting and anticipating significant improvement.
For an organization that was trying to lose games in each of the past three seasons while putting on a half-assed dog and pony show that, in their own world, had them disillusioned enough to think they might be fooling people into actually believing they had their stuff together, to not somehow finish as technically the worst team in the league even once is remarkable.
They won four games twice and three games once. Surely with them actually trying, they can be in position to win near double that amount.
The organization wants to win again and they’ve put themselves in position to do so. They’ve assembled a MUCH more competent staff, brought in proven veteran talent in all major position groups and drafted well...on paper. If you don’t believe DeMeco Ryans is going to burst into the team meeting room on the first day with his new roster with the boombox blaring Twisted Sister’s “We’re not gonna take it,” I don’t know what to tell ya.
We want to thank Shaun for his time and sharing his expertise with us. Like Brandon Scott, he fills in every now and then on the air, but he also moonlights away from the station as well. He co-hosts Houston Sports Talk with Robert Land. We want to wish him the best of luck and hope we can catch up again in the future.