New regime, new philosophy, new depth chart for Houston Texans
It's early August and still hotter than a pot of gumbo cooking outside on the south Louisiana swamp. Back to school pics are flooding social media. The Astros have all but clinched the AL West. Chocolate, frozen foods, and other sensitive items still melt before you can get them home. Hurricane season is upon us. We also have the no more weekends without football until early February! Rejoice!
The return of football means NFL training camps are underway. The Hall of Fame Game and ceremony kicked things off this past week. With that comes unofficial depth charts. This is when teams will put out a depth chart of who's getting what reps in practice and whatnot. It's not "official" because we aren't in season. It's "unofficial" because it'll inevitably change due to injury (God forbid), play, or possibly even a change in scheme from game to game.
Screenshot via: Mark Berman/Twitter
What I noticed is the rookies and younger guys are no longer buried on the depth chart simply because they're rookies or inexperienced. Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre are starters because they've played themselves into those positions. Kenyon Green has been banged up, or else he'd also be a starter. Christian Harris is a backup, for now, because the vets in front of him have a better grasp of the scheme so far. Nico Collins and Davis Mills have proven themselves to be head and shoulders above the others at their respective positions (#2 receiver and starting quarterback respectively).
Gone are the days of bygone eras in which teams would bury young guys simply because they didn't have the experience. This old school mentality has long since needed to be trashed. If a guy can play, he should get the most playing time. I understand that their first and second rounders are starters, but they're also more talented than others. Collins and Mills were thrust into the spotlight as rookies because the team was devoid of talent last season. They used their time to earn a starting spot and have proven that they're still thought of as such even with the influx of new talent.
Could they have traded for or drafted a guy to compete with Mills? Sure. But why not give the guy a shot? If that third round pick turns into the franchise quarterback, you solved a MAJOR question mark with a cheap option and can use draft capital to sure up other areas of need/best player available. Letting these young guys earn valuable playing time also lets you know whether or not they're a fit in more ways than one.
For example: if a guy can show enough athleticism to earn playing time, can he learn the playbook to entrench himself as a starter and vice versa? Is this someone we want to extend ASAP? Do we need to find a replacement because he isn't cutting the mustard? Imagine if these guys pan out and the team has cheap starters for three to four years and are able to spend money on bringing in vets to help round out a roster that could be ready to contend? Novel idea, huh?
All that being said, I'm glad young guys are getting their shots. The best players should always play, no matter their age or draft status. Some with higher draft status will get longer leashes and that's good business. However, if a guy isn't cutting it, he shouldn't be ahead of someone who can do just as good, if not better. Kudos to the Texans for turning the corner and getting the ship headed in the right direction.