EARLY EXIT

5 things the Texans need to address in the off-season after losing to the Colts

The Texans could not cover tight ends all season, and it bit them again Saturday. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The off-season is here early for the Texans.

The season ended with a thud on Saturday, as they simply were outplayed in almost every way in a 21-7 playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Texans fell in a 21-0 hole early and never recovered. The Colts did not punt until there was less than 11 minutes left in the third quarter. The Texans defense was better in the second half, but when the game was on the line, they had no answers.

In the first half, when it was decided, we saw a lot of familiar problems that haunted Houston all season. The Texans once again had nothing to stop T.Y. Hilton and Andrew Luck. They could not cover the tight end. They got no pressure on the quarterback. The defense could not get off the field on third down. They had untimely bad penalties on both sides of the ball.

On offense, Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins needed to be brilliant, and they were not. Hopkins looked hobbled and had just 37 yards on five catches. Watson completed 29 of 45 passes for 235 yards, one TD and an interception. He rushed for 76 yards on eight carries but was sacked three times and pressured throughout the game.

The result is a roller coaster season that comes to an early end. The Texans looked dreadful in an 0-3 start, then reeled off nine wins in a row before the defense struggled mightily down the stretch.

The Colts move on and will face Kansas City next week. For the Texans, the attention now turns to what the do in the off-season. Here are five things they need to address:

1) Get a legitimate NFL offensive tackle. Two if possible. That was an issue all season, and it needs to be addressed with high draft picks, free agency or even a trade. One big addition can make the entire line better. This is a must before next season or they will get Watson killed. Last year's third-round pick, Martinas Rankin, will likely be an above average guard at some point. With him, Nick Martin, Senio Kelemete, Zach Fulton and Greg Mancz, there is enough to put together a decent interior. The two outside positions, however, HAVE to be upgraded.

2) Revamp the secondary. They need to get faster at cornerback, and find someone who can cover T.Y. Hilton. Jonathan Joseph still understands the game, but he no longer has the coverage skills to be a No. 1 corner. Aaron Colvin was a free agent failure. You could do worse than bring back Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson at safety, but they need at least two new corners. Free agency is the most likely path here.

3) Changes on the coaching staff. Bill O'Brien won't be going anywhere, but he needs to make changes on his staff. It's probably time to let Romeo Crennel ride off into the sunset. He has been an excellent defensive coordinator for a long time, but he is 71 years old, and the game might have passed him by. They never made any changes in how they defended the Colts in particular, and tight ends in general, until the game was decided. There will be some very good defensive minded coaches available that have been head coaches. A new scheme and some new thoughts could do wonders for the Texans. A new voice on the offensive line would not be a bad idea either. An offensive coordinator with head coaching experience could also make Watson even more dangerous.

4) Figure out what to do with Jadeveon Clowney. His contract is up, and he is going to want to be paid Khalil Mack money. Truthfully, he is not worth that. A franchise tag and then a trade is certainly worth considering. Ideally, he would be re-signed, but not in a record-breaking deal.

5) Add another set of wheels in the backfield. Lamar Miller is solid, and maybe D'Onta Foreman fills this role next season. But he missed almost all of 2018 with an Achilles injury and who knows if he will ever be 100 percent of what he was? Some reliable depth would be a welcome addition.

The good news is they are set at the most important position on the roster, quarterback. They are probably OK at wide receiver if Will Fuller can return healthy next season. If not, perhaps Demaryius Thomas will. Keke Coutee has potential if he can stay healthy. They will have enough cap room to make significant additions on both sides of the ball.

But there is a lot to be fixed. And the Colts - who were clearly the better team this year - should be even better next season. Jacksonville might bounce back. Who knows how many more All-Pro type seasons J.J. Watt has left in him? The window for this team is right now and big moves need to be made.

The Texans did not get the job done in 2018, so there will be a lot of work to do in the off-season.

An off-season that started too early.

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Often times, sports can be a copycat forum. Whether it's trying to replicate an offense, defense, philosophy, or outright style biting, we rarely see anything original. Sports sometimes take their cues from Hollywood. How many remakes of old movies and ideas have we seen? Or, how many different iterations of a successful movie franchise will we continue to get shoved down our throats? (I'm looking at you Fast And Furious. But I'm going to see the new one anyway.)

Every so often, we'll get the pleasure of a trailblazer. Someone who stands out against the crowd and prefers to do something so out of the box, we may choose to fully embrace the different approach, or, we may choose to mock the out of the box ideas. The Texans have chosen to blaze their own trail and go with a general manager by committee for the upcoming season. They came to this conclusion (forced into it) after a failed attempt to woo Nick Caserio away from the Patriots amidst tampering charges. Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Chris Olsen, and Jamey Rootes will all play a part in fulfilling the role of GM. I go back and forth as to whether they've made the right decision and whether or not it'll work. Let's take a look at a few reasons to support both sides of the argument:

Will Work: Three or four heads better than one

Texans Chairman and CEO D. Cal McNair

houstontexans.com

Think back to when you were in school. I know that may be difficult for some of us that are long removed from those days. What was one of your favorite type of assignments? Typically, group assignments were fun because you got to collaborate with others on a project. It worked best if you chose your own group because you knew everyone would pull their weight. This may be the case here, as long as there are clear cut lines in which each person will operate and how tough decisions will be made.

Won't Work: Too many sheriffs, not enough cops

Texans EVP of Team Development Jack Easterby

houstontexans.com

Those same group projects have also been known to cause division, friction, and make getting a good grade nearly impossible. All of the guys on this committee have primary responsibilities. Now they have to take on extra duties. This can lead to some lacking in areas of each of their jobs. We've all experienced a collaborative effort gone wrong. Whether someone didn't pull their weight, or someone was a control freak, there's always a chance of something going awry when multiple people have to come together for a common goal, especially when you're dealing with a bunch of alpha males used to being the in charge of their own lane but forced to cooperate and collaborate with others.

Will Work: Everyone's seats are hot

Texans President Jamey Rootes

houstontexans.com

I grew up respecting the knowledge older people could pass along. I may not have always listened to what they said, but I most definitely absorbed those lessons. One saying I remember and still hold onto is "pressure can make a diamond or crack a pipe." The former is why I think this setup will work. When former GM Brian Gaine was fired late into this offseason, it put everyone on notice that their jobs are also on the line. If this group can feel that heat and use it to fuel them positively, this GM by committee thing can work.

Won't Work: No blueprint or copycat source

Texans Senior VP of Football Operations Chris Olsen

houstontexans.com

Like I said previously, sports are a copycat forum. Usually, there's someone somewhere that's done it before that you can get a few pointers from. Hell, the Texans organization has been trying to replicate what the Patriots have done for almost their whole existence! However, there hasn't been an example that I can think of in which any sports franchise has had a committee of people fill the role of GM instead of a single person. When you have an example to follow, it's similar to having directions on assembling a toy you've bought for your kid. Next time you try putting something together, do it without the instructions and see how easy/difficult it could be.

While the draft and the bulk of free agency has come and gone, there's always work a GM is doing that will help his team. There are always players on other teams to watch in case they're cut. There's also college players to keep an eye on for the upcoming draft, as well as a multitude of other duties an NFL GM has on a daily basis. Information funneled through one person and sent out to others is much more concise than being funneled through several and sent out to many.

Signals can get crossed. Critical steps or info can get missed and/or overlooked. However, we don't know if this will or won't work because we have nothing to base it off of. We will have to wait and see how this plays out. Who knows? We may be on the verge of something new and innovative in sports. We could also be seeing a disaster the likes of which we've never seen. Let's wait and see what happens before we pass judgement.

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