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Texans Value of Things: The Ins and Outs of the 2023 Season

What do the 2022 and 2023 numbers tell us about the Texans?

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For most of the season, the ins and outs series served as a statistical breakdown of the previous game so we would know what the Houston Texans need to do the next Sunday. There are no more next Sundays. We saw what happened on Saturday, so I feel no need to relive that game. In general, there were a lot of good things that happened in 2023 and some things that still need some work.

The temptation is to immediately turn the page and begin the process of looking at who the team might be able to add in free agency and the draft. There are your own free agents to consider as well. There are injured players returning to health in 2024. All of this is important and all of it will be more fun this go around, but self-scouting is the most important scouting that teams do.

Where were the biggest areas of improvement between 2022 and 2023? Where were the areas where there was little to no improvement? Were there any areas where the team actually regressed? When we see these we can begin to make some general statements about where the team needs to focus their resources. At that point, it becomes a lot more clear as to who in particular the team might target.

In order to do this we will show the 2022 numbers for a category and then the 2023 numbers so you can see them side by side. When we have gone through all of the numbers we will highlight the biggest areas of improvement between 2022 and 2023, the areas where we were stagnant, and the areas where there was regression.

Key Statistics

Rushing Yards/YPA

2022: 1,476/3.7
2023: 1,647/3.7

Passing Yards/Net yards per attempt

2022: 3,344/5.1
2023: 4,173/6.5

Sacks Allowed

2022: 38
2023: 47

Turnovers

2022: 28
2023: 14

Penalties

2022: 88/644
2023: 114/937

Rushing Yards Allowed

2022: 2,884/5.1
2023: 1,643/3.5

Passing Yards Allowed

2022: 3,558/6.3
2023: 3,979/6.5

Sacks

2022: 39
2023: 46

Turnovers Forced

2022: 27
2023: 24

Biggest Offensive Improvement

Clearly, the passing game is the one most people will point to, but this team cut their turnovers in half and led the league in that category. Doing that with a rookie quarterback seems impossible. This meant the team went from a mediocre -1 in turnover margin to a robust +10 in one season. That number by itself might be the biggest difference between the two teams.

Biggest Defensive Improvement

Whether the Texans were the worst rushing defense in 2022 depends on your point of view. They surrendered more rushing yards than any team since 1972, but they were not last in yards per carry. Still, this was the single biggest improvement outside of the turnovers. The Texans finished in the top ten in total yards allowed and the top five in yards allowed per attempt. Sure, they were gashed on occasion, so more work could be done, but this is about as big a turnaround in any number that you will find.

Offensive Stagnation

While the Texans gained more yards on the ground, their yards per attempt was exactly the same and still ranked in the bottom ten in the NFL. On an individual basis, Devin Singletary performed better overall once he became the starter than Dameon Pierce had as a rookie. Pierce regressed for whatever reason and so the team still had only one productive back. This will be an area to watch in the offseason.

Defensive Stagnation

Technically speaking, the Texans generated fewer turnovers than the did the previous season. I’m not sure how to label that. Some people think you can coach for turnovers and use various strategies to generate them. Others think it is more us the luck of the bounce. I’m somewhere in the middle on that. The wild card game was won on turnovers and generating immediate points off of those. The divisional round saw none. That could be quality of opponent of something strategic to work on. I’ll leave that up to the experts.

Offensive Regression

You could pick penalties or sacks allowed. Penalties are obviously about both units and might be more of a coaching emphasis than a player personnel emphasis. The sacks are something else. Obviously, there are numerous factors that go into that. C.J. Stroud will continue to grow and show better judgement on when to try to make a play off schedule and when to just get rid of it. Better receivers will get open quicker and help facilitate that. If he comes back. Bobby Slowik should be better in year two than he was in year one. All of these things are true, but the interior of the offensive line was a revolving door and that probably has an impact on not only the sacks, but also the running game.

Defensive Regression

Statistically speaking it is the passing game. There were too many games where mediocre or just plain bad quarterbacks were torching this defense. Yes, the emphasis on the run probably played a huge role in that. When you sell out to stop one thing you open yourself up to another. So, personnel upgrades could impact both phases and make it easier to stop the run without having to leave yourself wide open to the pass. The team set a franchise record in sacks, so this probably has more to do with the linebackers and secondary than the defensive line.