The Houston Texans’ roster needed some upgrading going into the offseason, with question marks all over and dire needs at several positions. Have those upgrades happened yet?
Well… not really.
With one of the easiest schedules in the NFL in 2018, Houston managed to end with a respectable 11-5 mark before getting kicked in the collective tail by the division rival Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs. Houston’s 2019 schedule isn’t nearly as favorable, so standing pat with the roster and scheme most likely won’t net equal or better results. Improvements had to be made this offseason.
With the understanding that the draft later this month will go a long way toward shaping the 2019 roster, take a look at the franchise’s wins and losses since the 2018 season ended.
WIN: Placing the franchise tag on Jadeveon Clowney and not losing him to another team (like the Colts).
While so many still throw shade at Clowney for not living up to the pre-draft hype, he’s still a major force in the Houston defense and a player other teams must game plan for unless they want him wrecking their day. Brian Gaine and Clowney’s agent still haven’t landed on a long-term contract for the monster run-stopper, and rumors still swirl that Houston might try to trade him between now and the end of the first day of the 2019 NFL Draft, but for the time being, keeping him in battle red is a win.
WIN: Tashaun Gipson signs with the Houston Texans.
“We can’t be kickin’ no field goal...” Tashaun Gipson
It’s a little surprising this news hasn’t gotten more play. Instead of losing a player like A.J. Bouye to a division rival, Houston managed to grab one of the better safeties in free agency away from the Jaguars. Gipson is 10 games shy of 100 starts. He has 20 career interceptions, 394 tackles, and 2 touchdowns. He should contribute early and often to the defense alongside second-year player Justin Reid.
WIN: Bradley Roby joins the Texans’ secondary.
A five-year starter with a good deal of potential left in the tank, Roby has a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove he’s better than what he’s shown so far in his career. That sort of fire will go a long way on game day in Houston, especially when facing the likes of Andrew Luck, Nick Foles and Marcus Mariota.
WIN: Houston hit the offseason program with no major injuries for the first time in a long time.
J.J. Watt: healthy. Deshaun Watson: healthy. Whitney Mercilus: healthy. Jadeveon Clowney: healthy. Having those guys and more able to hit the ground running in mini-camps and spring training is huge and should pay big dividends when the season rolls around. Granted, Will Fuller V and Keke Coutee are rehabbing, but both should be good by the start of training camp.
LOSS: Houston let Kareem Jackson walk without so much as a hometown discount offer.
This is a major head scratcher. While Kareem landed a deal arguably above his fair market value, Houston might have been able to get him to stay in town for less money. Even if they matched the offer Denver gave Jackson, it’s not like Houston is in a tight cap situation and needs to pinch every penny. According to Jackson, the Texans never even so much as offered to pay him in Monopoly money. K-Jax might not have been the best cornerback Houston ever had, but on a team with a desperate need for defensive backs, letting him walk away untouched might come back to bite the Texans’ defense in 2019 and beyond.
LOSS: Failing to address the offensive line in free agency.
Sure, Houston signed Khalil Mack… no wait, Matt Kalil… you know, the guy that isn’t a future Hall of Famer. The guy who seems to have developed a lot of bad habits to cover an injury and really isn’t a Pro Bowler by any stretch of the imagination. While it’s been said Houston tried to land a few of the bigger names in the opening flurry of free agency, it’s probably good they didn’t overpay for one of them. Still, there were still other lesser expensive names they could have gone after and didn’t.
LOSS: Insisting the Texans are a team built through the draft.
Brian Gaine did strike gold with Justin Reid, Keke Coutee (if he can stay healthy) and Duke Ejiofor, proving you can get some draft riches in the later rounds. But betting your future, the health of your franchise quarterback and the fortunes of the 2019 season solely on what’s been called a “weak draft class” doesn’t exactly send good vibrations through the fan base.
LOSS: Andre Hal retired.
While Hal gained national attention when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, he should always be a Houston hero. A high character guy, great teammate, and a solid leader on and off the field, Hal was part of what made the Texans a team of role models. Replacing his on-field contributions may not seem that hard, but replacing the x-factor that he brought to the team may just be impossible.
With only a handful of players still on the roster from Bill O’Brien’s previous drafts as the Houston head coach, it’s hard to feel warm and fuzzy about the Texans putting so many eggs in the draft basket, even if it is happening right after Easter. Hopefully, this time next month we can celebrate Gaine’s first full draft as a major win...although you never really know how a draft turns out for a year or two.
What are your offseason wins so far? Where do you think Houston has lost in 2019?