KEEPING THE BAND TOGETHER

Texans' turning point: Decoding the significance of recent franchise-altering moves

Houston Texans Nico Collins, CJ Stroud
The Texans' offense shouldn't skip a beat. Composite Getty Image.

As CJ Stroud was putting together arguably the best rookie quarterback season in NFL history, Texans fans were concerned that Stroud's success would lead to OC Bobby Slowik's departure.

In fact, when DeMeco Ryans announced that Slowik would come over from the 49ers to be the new OC, some people actually wondered if the team made a mistake. They questioned if the Texans should have hired Slowik as the head coach, so Stroud would be assured of having stability as he developed.

It sounds silly now, with DeMeco Ryans already winning the Pro Football Writers of America award for Coach of the Year. But offensive-minded coaches have been the most popular hires over the last several years (the last 5 straight Super Bowl matchups, all offensive head coaches). Especially guys from the Shanahan coaching tree like Bobby Slowik working with a rookie QB. There was legitimate concern that if Stroud did succeed with Slowik as OC, he would immediately move on to be the head coach of another franchise.

And the biggest nightmare for the Texans almost came to fruition, as Slowik has been a hot head coaching candidate this offseason. But now we can all relax, Bobby Slowik has reportedly agreed to a new contract (more money) and will stay with the Texans.

With Slowik now in the fold for 2024, Houston needed one more piece to return to the coaching staff to keep Stroud on track for his sophomore season.

Texans QB coach Jerrrod Johnson is in demand and has been interviewing for an OC position with the Saints, Steelers, Patriots, and Bucs.

According to reports, it looks like the Texans got their wish. Johnson has told teams he plans on returning to the Texans in 2024. He like Slowik has agreed to a new deal (with a raise) and will coach Stroud again in 2024.

With the Texans coaching staff staying intact, Stroud can build off his rookie season and not worry about having to learn another system, with different terminology and coaching.

Stroud will be challenged enough in his second year, as the league will pick up on some of his tendencies in the offseason. But at least he doesn't have to worry about starting all over with a new staff. Credit to GM Nick Caserio and Texans ownership for recognizing the importance of stability for a young QB who's trying to take his game to the next level after experiencing a ton of success as a rookie.

It's also great to see that this was a situation/organization these coaches wanted to be a part of again. It seems like Slowik and Johnson see something special being built in H-Town, with Stroud taking snaps and DeMeco Ryans leading a talented young squad that's already won a division and a playoff game in their first year.

With the Slowik and Johnson contracts resolved, now we turn our attention to free agency and the draft. And one thing is for certain, the future has never been brighter for the Texans organization. They finally get it, and Houston has a football team they can officially get behind.

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Cristian Javier is in better shape this season. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.

Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).

Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.

But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.

In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.

Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.

The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.

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