There must be a word for the emotion Houston Texans fans are feelings. Something along the lines of a grim optimism, a wasted, futile hope without much to go off. Houston Texans fans have witnessed two painstaking losses to teams that frankly outplayed them in every capacity of the game. With both sides of the ball lacking adept quality, we come to this week’s Groupthink to evaluate which side of the ball has the most promise.
The Houston Texans are 0-2 and both sides of the ball have looked sluggish to start. Which side of the ball do you believe has the most potential to turn it around?
This is a hard question but I will lean defense. At least they have the potential of turning things around quicker. Ryans has more experience calling plays than Slowik so I trust him more to dial up mismatches with players like Anderson, Greenard, and Pitre (when healthy). I think the offense will improve with better health up front but I’m not sure if this running game will improve all that much. Stroud has looked better every time out but teams will clamp down when it becomes clear they aren’t a threat to run it.
Welp, if your foundation is weak, the structure will be weak. For the Texans, it is both the offensive and defensive lines that are arguably the weakest points of the team. Injuries has put 2nd and 3rd stringers in front line responsibilities for the O-line, leading to a decided lack of a running game for Houston, and CJ Stroud’s start to 2023 reminding us way too much of the David Carr era (11 sacks in the 1st two games for Stroud, 15 for Carr). Yet, the Oline has the potential for improvement, albeit a little later on with Howard, Tunsil and Scruggs expected back. Even with the poor quality of the line, Stroud is showing signs of justifying his high draft status and Pierce, while slumping now, can get it back with better line play. The defense, while missing their safeties, might be more concerning, surprisingly. The team’s run defense, better than 2022, is still one of the league’s weakest, and Greenard and Anderson aren’t quite yet among the best defensive end tandems. The linebackers are just players, and the remaining defensive backs are not reminding anyone of peak Legion of Boom. If the Oline comes back healthy and can maintain some consistency, then I think that the offense will more likely grow into the strength of the team by season’s end.
The thing to remember is that this team is already wracked with injuries so there’s going to be a certain degree of turnaround on both sides of the ball. But in terms of development, I would say the offense can turn it around faster. Stroud, albeit early, is already showing he’s got tremendous potential. The offensive line is a wreck but that’s because four (4!) players are injured. Nico Collins and Tank Dell were impact receivers even in a loss to the Colts. And Dameon Pierce’s numbers are suffering because we have the offensive line that can’t offensive line.
Once the line is resettled and we finally, finally, get the line we were promised, I suspect the offense will bounce back fast.
It’s a tough question. As we stand, the defense probably is far behind the offense in terms of talent and promise. It doesn’t help that Travierre Thomas and Derek Stingley Jr. are out and injured, but the defense appears to be in shambles. I can’t imagine how the defense actually improves throughout the season unless both Jonathan Greenard and Will Anderson Jr. go off and become a top 10 pass rush duo in the league.
The offense on the other hand has talent across the board and simply needs to put everything together. There’s a false sense of confidence stemming from QB C.J. Stroud’s performance and stat line in We, which is understandable from a fanatic standpoint. Houweer, Houston fans do need to be patient will several of the pies the offense has accumulated. Tank Dell and Xavier Hutchinson pose to be long-term options at the receiver position. Meanwhile, Dameon Pierce has struggled behind a faltering offensive line that supported him through four backups. Pierce and the run game will improve with health. Tunsil should be back next week and Tytus Howard shouldn’t be far behind. The offense has enough components to cobble together a competent offense under Bobby Slowik... if they aren’t trailing by 20 points before the half.