Fall to failure

How did the Texans O-Line get here?

The Texans offensive line has been in decline since 2014. Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

How did the Houston Texans go from a multi-Pro Bowler offensive line to the porous disappointment that endangers the best shot at winning the franchise has ever had?

We will discuss the players who played the majority of the snaps under Bill O'Brien's Texans at each position and the changes that led to where the Texans sit today.

2014

LT - Duane Brown

LG - Ben Jones

C - Chris Myers

RG - Brandon Brooks

RT - Derek Newton

Pro Football Focus Pass Blocking (Rank) - 76.2 (19th)

Pro Football Focus Run Blocking (Rank) - 84.0 (6th)

Sacks Allowed (Rank) - 26 (4th)

Rush Yards (Rank) - 2,161 (5th)

This was a fairly solid group for the team considering there would be changes on the horizon. Chris Myers was done playing after this year and as Rick Smith had hoped when he drafted him Ben Jones would take over heading into 2015. Brown was in the midst of his streak as one of the more underrated tackles in football, and he was a Pro Bowler this year too. Newton would play well enough to earn a new contract with the team.

2015

LT - Duane Brown

LG - Xavier Su'a-Filo

C - Ben Jones

RG - Brandon Brooks

RT - Derek Newton

Pro Football Focus Pass Blocking (Rank) - 78.2 (10th)

Pro Football Focus Run Blocking (Rank) - 77.5 (22nd)

Sacks Allowed (Rank) - 36 (16th)

Rush Yards (Rank) - 1,731 (15th)

The Su'a-Filo era began in earnest this season and would stick around for quite some time. Jones and Brooks would have been nice to have back in hindsight. The Texans clearly didn't see it with Brooks nor saw the same value the Titans saw in Jones. Newton had a nice season at right tackle and was clearly a consistent starter the team depended on having for a couple more years. Chris Clark was on the team via a trade and his stint started this year. Greg Mancz and Kendall Lamm both began their Texans careers. Brooks, who has since spoken out unfavorably about his time with the Texans, signed with the Eagles in free agency. The next day Ben Jones signed with the Titans. The Texans signed Jeff Allen and drafted Nick Martin in the second round to help replace them.Duane Brown was solid.

2016

LT - Duane Brown

LG - Xavier Su'a-Filo

C - Greg Mancz

RG - Jeff Allen

RT - Derek Newton/Chris Clark

Pro Football Focus Pass Blocking (Rank) - 73.2 (23rd)

Pro Football Focus Run Blocking (Rank) - 69.6 (21st)

Sacks Allowed (Rank) - 32 (11th)

Rush Yards (Rank) - 1,859 (8th)

Nick Martin was lost for the season due to injury forcing Greg Mancz into action. Allen failed to live up to expectations and would be classified as a disappointment. A few weeks into the season Derek Newton's season would be ended via injury as well so Chris Clark would take over for the rest of the season. Tony Bergstrom was an addition to the team but barely played. Kendall Lamm played sparingly. The Texans would draft Julién Davenport in the fourth round in the offseason and sign Breno Giacomini to what they thought would be a backup tackle spot.

2017

LT - Chris Clark

LG - Xavier Su'a-Filo

C - Nick Martin

RG - Jeff Allen

RT - Breno Giacomini

Pro Football Focus Pass Blocking (Rank) - 54.8 (32)

Pro Football Focus Run Blocking (Rank) - 50.9 (31)

Sacks Allowed (Rank) - 54 (31st)

Rush Yards (Rank) - 1,842 (14th)

This is where all hell breaks loose. The Texans decided not to pay Duane Brown and he decided not to show up forcing Chris Clark to play the majority of the snaps at left tackle. Clark likely was slated to be the right tackle while Giacomini would be a backup or swing tackle. Giacomini would play almost every snap for the team opposite Clark and later Davenport. This would be the last year of Su'a-Filo's tenure with the team and Jeff Allen would never play for the Texans again after this season. It became very clear the Texans made a mistake in their evaluation of Allen. Even if they'd wanted him back it seems unlikely Brandon Brooks would have wanted to be back. Martin maybe could have been a guard if Ben Jones hadn't signed with Tennessee.

Ultimately the Texans are going to wish they had paid Duane Brown and smoothed things over. Brown has been successful in Seattle (Pro Bowl in 2017 and second-team All-Pro in 2018) and a stabilizing force for the Seahawks. The money not spent on Brown hasn't been used and the draft pick acquired for him very well could be used on an offensive lineman. Brown would have made investing at other offensive line positions easier and the Texans line much better. The Texans would try, and fail, to sign Nate Solder in the offseason. They would draft Martinas Rankin in the third round.

2018

LT - Julién Davenport

LG - Senio Kelemete

C - Nick Martin

RG - Zach Fulton

RT -Kendall Lamm

Pro Football Focus Pass Blocking (Rank) - 71.3 (20th)

Pro Football Focus Run Blocking (Rank) - 43.1 (32nd)

Sacks Allowed (Rank) - 62 (32nd)

Rush Yards (Rank) - 2,021 (8th)

The epitome of a roller coaster year for the Texans offensive line. Seantrell Henderson was supposed to be the team's right tackle but he got hurt in the first game of the season. They were rarely playing a complete game, often being average to good in one facet and poor in the other. Davenport struggled early at right tackle but settled in for a decent year at left tackle. Fulton and Kelemete were inconsistent as was Greg Mancz who played some in their stead. Lamm finally displayed staying power at the NFL level though did nothing to make you think his the answer at right tackle. Martin, like his teammates, was inconsistent. Martinas Rankin looked like a rookie in his snaps at tackle but had a few nice snaps at guard.

Summary

2017 is where this situation really went down the tubes. The Texans had a franchise left tackle for at least a few more years and for a multitude of reasons he is on the Seahawks now. He would have helped improve the play of the left guard and could have been a steadying force for the line.

The Ben Jones departure was understandable as they clearly had a value for him and didn't feel like going beyond it to keep him but Nick Martin has struggled to consistently match Jones' level of play. The Jeff Allen addition to replace Brandon Brooks failed miserably. Xavier Su'a-Filo's time with the team left the Texans chasing yet another replacement on the line.

Derek Newton's injury was very unfortunate. He very easily could have been the right tackle still or at least helping at other spots on the line.

Since O'Brien's arrival the team has drafted five offensive linemen (Su'a-Filo, Martin, Davenport, Kyle Fuller, and Martinas Rankin) but also found serviceable players in Greg Mancz and finally this year Kendall Lamm. Their free agent additions have underwhelmed with Giacomini being bad, he isn't in the league anymore, and Allen also failing in Houston. We have no idea on Henderson as he barely played and the jury is still out on Fulton and Kelemete but they haven't been amazing.

Predicting 2019

The Texans are set to return all the players who started at an offensive line spot with the exception of Kendall Lamm. That is already seven players on the offensive line. With many fans hoping the draft and free agency someone is going to have to make way for the new faces. It would seem unlikely the team abandons Rankin after spending a third on him. It isn't cost efficient to move on from Fulton. Kelemete's contract works well as a starter or a reserve. Mancz just got a new deal. Martin is in the last year of his as a rookie and could be facing competition for his spot. Henderson is back but his contract doesn't give him huge security. If Davenport doesn't show improvement right away he's in danger.

There needs to be a lot of competition for almost every spot on this team's line. Ideally a top pick is competing for the left tackle spot while another new face is pushing for time on the interior. If those things happen and some of the players level out their game and stop being so up and down the Texans just might have a good enough offensive line to make some noise.

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