NFL rosters are still doing to change. Teams are constructed by June, even if the foundation has settled, the rafters are hung, and the joists are begging to be covered. There are still roster cuts, and there is still tinkering to be done. That being said, the major team building avenues have already been driven down. The first two waves of free agency have splashed upon the shore. The NFL Draft is complete.
Because of this, and with this turn of the calendar to June, NFL season previews are starting to get rolling—every year it comes a little bit sooner, like Christmas lights in the beginning of November.
Football Outsiders is already starting to put together their projections for the 2021 NFL season. Recently, they projected which teams would have the top ten picks of the 2022 NFL Draft, and yep, you guessed it, the Texans don’t fare well. Here’s what FO had to say:
The Texans signed a lot of free agents this offseason, and don’t have a lot of holes. They also don’t have a lot of strengths; it’s just mediocrity across the roster.
The exception is the quarterback position, which could go from a huge strength to a huge negative. Our projections assume that Deshaun Watson will not take any snaps for Houston in 2021, either due to lawsuits against Watson allegingbehavior from sexual misconduct to sexual assault, or due to his discontent with franchise management. Watson propped up the Houston offense last year with his 70.5 QBR, and there’s a long drop in production between Watson and either veteran Tyrod Taylor or rookie Davis Mills. There has also been a step down at the receiver position. Will Fuller V, who led all NFL wide receivers in our DVOA efficiency ratings in 2020, has gone to Miami in free agency.
We’re also forecasting a bad season from the Texans’ defense, which ranked 30th in DVOA last season. The Texans were balanced in subpar play: 29th against the run and 29th against the pass. Like the Jets, the Texans might take time to learn a new defense, switching to Lovie Smith’s scheme, which is heavily Cover 2. Houston was good last season in one regression indicator (preventing short-yardage runs) and bad in another regression indicator (turnovers) and those variables offset each other in our projection system.
One positive for the Texans: By our current projections, their schedule ranks 31st in average opponent strength.
Best-case scenario: Maybe if Watson can settle his grievances with the front office and he’s suspended for only a few games for the allegations against him, he can lead the Texans to some wins over the second half of the schedule. With five of the last seven games at home, the Texans then could sneak into the postseason.
Only the New York Jets are projected to finish worse than Houston. Even the computers already don’t believe the Texans can tank right. Get ready for numerous projections with Houston in the basement of the standings and at the top of the 2022 draft board. Your summer is going to be swarmed by them.