Every-Thing Sports

Adding speed was a priority for the Texans, but there are drawbacks

Composite photo by Jack Brame

Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs proved speed kills. They hoisted the Lombardi Trophy on the back of a team built around an offense whose foundation is speed. They nicknamed their offense, or skill position players, the 'Legion of Zoom' because of said speed. No matter how big a hole they dug themselves into, that speed and explosive offense could dig them out of. The Texans saw it firsthand in their playoff loss. After being up 24-7, they ended up losing 51-31. The Chiefs repeated this feat in similar fashion against the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Going into the 4th quarter down 20-10, they rattled off 21 unanswered points to win 31-21.

The NFL is a copycat league. Suffice to say, Texans Grand Poobah Bill O'Brien decided this offseason to attempt to replicate that model. While this is different from their usual Patriots love fest, it is still an attempt to copy another team's identity instead of establishing their own. Whenever a team tries to replicate what another team has done to be successful, they often fail. The question is: do the Texans have enough speed on offense to cause mismatches and be just as explosive as the Chiefs?

Quarterback position is close

Patrick Mahomes has proven himself via winning league MVP and then Super Bowl MVP in consecutive years. He's accomplished enough to warrant the "face of the league" talk he's received. Deshaun Watson seems to be on the verge of being the Peyton Manning to Mahomes' Tom Brady. He may not have as talented of a roster, but he's enough of an enigma himself to elevate the guys around him. Watson is the kind of guy that wants it so bad, he'll play well and win in spite being held back due to his coach and GM being a buffoon.

Receivers are meh

When looking at the receiving corps around the league, the Texans' group is average at best. Too many guys with questionable injury history, or their best days seem to be behind them...or both. I saw a tweet earlier that embodies the gist of this article. It talked about the speed at receiver the Texans have and displayed their 40 times. I quoted it and said it was from their respective combines. Not to say this group isn't still explosive, but they all have their issues. This group lacks a true top dog and doesn't have anyone that sparks real fear in defenses. They have potential, but that same potential gets coaches and GMs fired. Let's not even address the tight end position. The Texans have thrown spaghetti at the wall there, whereas other teams have invested wisely.

Running backs?

Duke Johnson was underused last season. David Johnson hasn't been good since 2016. This is the combo the Texans are counting on going into next season. While I believe they can be good enough to get the job done, I'm not sure. A trade for a more stable and solid vet would make me more at ease (Leonard Fournette). However, given the talent at other positions, the running backs may only serve as the parsley flakes in the full meal presentation. Meaning they're a compliment, not a focal point.

Offensive line

Trading for and extending Laremy Tunsil came at an extremely high cost. Not to mention spending a 1st and a 2nd round pick on two other starters on the line last offseason. This line is coming together and could prove to be one of the better young lines in the league. They are athletic and can be nasty. This is the second most important position group on this side of the ball behind Watson. If they play well and up to their collective potential, I see great things happening. However, if they fail to live up to that potential, look forward to an arduous season.

There's so much hanging in the balance when it comes to this team's offensive explosion. All the what ifs can be put to bed if the main triggermen (Watson and O'Brien) are in sync. If O'Brien can tap into Watson's next level abilities, this offense can be scary. With the way things have gone the last couple years, things may be very average. I pray I'm right on the former and that the latter is a thing of the past. This offense reminds me of that awesome v6 engine with all the potential in the world. All it needs is a few add-ons and it could run the racetracks for years to come.

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The Texans have a big decision to make. Composite image by Jack Brame

The last few weeks have brought us some very interesting episodes of "As Kirby Turns." Cal McNair has admitted he hasn't spoken with Deshaun Watson and has also doubled down on his affinity for Jack Easterby by saying he's staying around. The franchise's only member of their Ring of Honor, Andre Johnson, came completely out of character by tweeting his support for Watson to "stand his ground" in what most assume is his desire to play elsewhere. Newly hired general manager Nick Caserio has the hardest job in the NFL because he's basically a one leg man in a bleep kicking contest. National and local media are all floating rumors and opinions about Watson's status with the team. Meanwhile, Watson himself has been cryptic and hasn't come out and said one thing either way about his status with the team.

My opinion is that he won't be traded and this is his way of using the leverage he has to get some things done his way to ensure more of his career won't be wasted. Once they hire a head coach he approves of and they talk, he'll be back in the fold and blow things over by saying he never demanded a trade and was only upset about some things due to miscommunication. Blah blah blah. However, where there's smoke, there must be fire. I'll examine some pros and cons to a potential trade of Watson.

Bad news first. This franchise has waited its entire existence for a franchise quarterback like Watson. Finally getting one and having to deal him amidst the bumbling owner and charlatan right-hand man would be a big blow to overcome. This coming year is shaping up to be difficult as it is, but doing so with Watson wearing a different jersey could prove to be a near fatal blow. It would take an additional year or so to recover. The only way this timeline is expedited, is if they get a quarterback back in the trade or with one of the draft picks that they feel can be the man moving forward.

The bright side. Watson is this team's most attractive asset as it looks to rebuild. There are teams in the top five of this year's draft who need quarterbacks, and a couple of them have multiple first round picks. The Jets, #2 and #23 overall in the first round this draft, are the most intriguing destination because they may be bad next season with Watson if you get that pick in the trade as well. Throw in Sam Darnold, who's still young and salvageable, and this could be a hard reset that may not take as long. The Dolphins, #3 and #18 overall this draft, also have a lot to offer. Rumor has it Watson would like to go to Miami in a deal that includes Tua Tagovailoa, who was a guy Caserio liked when entering the draft. Again, another potential hard reset that may not take long if either young quarterback pans out. You could also trade back from those top slots to acquire more picks to help fill some of the many holes you have.

I reiterate, I do not believe Watson will be traded. I'm not even sure his no trade clause is applicable since he's still under his rookie contract and his extension hasn't kicked in yet. The new CBA rules call for stiffer penalties for players who refuse to report, so a holdout is highly unlikely. I'll be glad when they hire a coach Watson likes, and we get the happy family press conference introducing him, so this soap opera can move on to its next episode.

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