This week, Diehard Chris sent us all a telegraph that stated:
In general I think all of us agree the top two priorities for the Houston Texans this offseason are fixing the secondary (specifically the corners) and the offensive line.
Aside from those two issues, what is the next most important fix the Houston Texans need to make in the offseason? This can be anything you want, but for the sake of this exercise, if you have a wild fantasy that’s never going to happen (like for BFD - shooting Bill O’Brien into the sun on live television), try to balance it out with something realistic as well.
If Chris wasn’t strangled by log-in issues, he would say something smart and beautiful here, something sure to fill the soul with joy that has no bounds. Instead, it’s me. These are our responses to this week’s riveting question.
Along with fixing the offensive line, adding effective cornerbacks and finding a player on the defense who can cover tight ends...
Regardless of O’Brien’s future in Houston with this franchise as head coach, which should end now given the body of evidence that clearly demonstrates his ceiling through five seasons, the Texans need to bring in an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and an overall game manager strategist/consultant (if the new OC or DC isn’t able to do the macro elements in live games).
O’Brien lacks macro game management elements (clock management, field position leverage, challenges, and timeouts). He does not have an offensive scheme design to identify and exploit mismatches with the opponent, the ability to identify misdirection opportunities and triggering them at key points in the tilt, the ability to orchestrate a sequence of plays and cadence to keep a defense off balance, and absolutely no killer instinct to finish off an opponent once the Texans have even the slightest upper hand on the scoreboard.
O’Brien doesn’t prepare the team for devastating “first strike” momentum early in games, and the team most often comes out of the tunnel emotionally flat. He’s the steward of the worst red zone offense in the history of the modern NFL.
As for Romeo Crennel, his “bend don’t break” defensive scheme is dated and ineffective at consistent disruption and rarely breaks pass protection. He arguably had two of the top five pass rushers in the NFL on hand and they were easily nullified by good offensive lines. I’m not saying the DC needs to fan the blitz button on every play like Wade Phillips did, but we need a more creative coordinator directing the defense for the current NFL.
Aside from the secondary or offensive line, which I’m more okay with than most, the biggest offseason priorities should be to give Juli’en Davenport a full year at left tackle, Martinas Rankin a full training camp, acquiring some more tackle competition because as big of a leap Kendall Lamm made he still had his struggles, and firing Mike Devlin because nearly every offensive lineman to arrive in Houston (I’m looking at you, Jeff Allen and Zach Fulton) has gotten worse and just about every offensive lineman that’s left has gotten better. I would also try to improve the pass rush.
The free agent cupboard looks bare and empty like the home I just moved to. But players will get cut to create cap space. Teams will do dumb things like not franchise tagging A.J. Bouye. Cups and bowls will be put away. There will be options. Yet transforming a secondary in one offseason is a difficult thing to do. To balance this, Houston should add more pass rushers.
BFD and I talked about this on Battle Red Radio the other night. I said I’d like to see some interior rushers, players like Malik Jackson maybe, who can actually provide a rush as a ‘3’ technique. Whenever Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt aren’t producing, the rush is nonexistent. Brandon Dunn, D.J. Reader, Angelo Blackson, and Christian Covington can’t pressure the quarterback. Whenever Watt and Clowney aren’t getting to the QB, no one is getting there. BFD made a great point that Houston should target edge rushers so they can keep Watt inside on passing downs. I’d be for that too, depending on how the market shakes out.
Four words: passing downs running back.
And I don’t mean Tyler Ervin wishful thinking kind of players. Get a real one that can hold the fort until a rookie is ready.
After watching Clemson wash their feet in the Crimson Tide, I found myself coveting an offensive coordinator who knew how to move the ball consistently. Sure, that starts with a solid offensive line, but creative play calling, clock management, knowing when to be aggressive...all those things we almost never see with our Head Coach at the helm of the Texans are the sorts of things that win championships. I remember last year, after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, many of us were lamenting how great the Eagles’ coaching staff performed and what a bad light that shone on Houston’s offensive think-tank. Well, we got to see it play out this year. So, my votes for offseason priorites:
1) Offensive Line
2) Offensive coordinator - not a yes man, but an actual OC who can think and act autonomously in the face of the A-Gap/All Field Goal Offense we’ve seen for years.
4) Power back
All the other pieces are there. We just need someone who knows how to put it all together and drive the battle red bus down victory lane.
In order of priorities we should address in the offseason:
Edge pass rushers
Unless there are surprise cuts, I think it’s wishful thinking to believe the Texans can drastically improve in one offseason. The free agent offensive tackle class isn’t strong; I’d rather give Davenport and Rankin a chance to develop, all things considered equal. The CB class certainly isn’t strong, though I’d take a chance on Jason Verrett.
Plus, it’s not like the Texans are the only team with cap space and draft picks. There will be significant competition for any above-average talent out there.
We’ve had a lot of fine answers to this question, so rather than repeat someone else’s I’ll put something out there that I don’t think anyone else has. The Texans offense is SO MUCH MORE DYNAMIC with Will Fuller V out there. However, sadly, I’ve seen enough of Fuller to expect he will never be a guy you can count on to stay healthy. Plus, he’s coming off the type of injury that leaves you with uncertainty as to whether he will actually be the max-speed guy that helped to open up this offense so much.
So what I propose is the Texans go out and try to get another speed-burning wide receiver deep threat in the offseason whether through the draft, free agency, or (and I know this route won’t happen) via trade. I know you have Keke Coutee but he doesn’t do what Fuller does. I know that you also have a situation where you would have two guys competing for the same position - I honestly don’t care. If it turns out Fuller stays healthy all year and you’ve added another dynamic speed guy - fantastic. I would love to have an embarrassment of riches at that position, especially with a retooled offensive line that will hopefully allow the Texans to not need to constantly chip with running backs and tight ends. If that also happens, you could get both guys on the field at the same time and make the offense even more dangerous.
Make it happen, Mr. Gaine.
Here at BRB, we were all very different and special people. No one in the history of the universe has ever been just like us. We all had various responses to this question.
What about you? How would you answer the question?