Falcon Points

How the Texans will look when they face the Chiefs next week

Composite image by Jack Brame.

A week from tonight, the Texans will open the season the way the last one ended - in Kansas City against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs.

Yes, NFL football is just a week away. There will likely be some Covid scares along the way, and the game will look different in the stands. But in the end, it will come down to the players and coaches, as it always does. For the Texans, it will be a chance to see where they stand right away in comparison to a real Super Bowl contender.

The positive is Houston will enter the season with very few question marks. The lineup is pretty much set on both sides of the ball. That's a good thing, because in the Rona camp, there was not a lot of time for positional battles. Barring last minute injuries, this is how the lineups should look in a week:

QB: Deshaun Watson. The only question here is how good can he be? This should be the year he takes the next step.

OL: The Texans have invested a lot in this unit. Laremy Tunsil is one of the better left tackles in the league, and Tytus Howard was terrific as a rookie until he got injured. He should be even better in Year 2. That should give the Texans plus players at tackle. Max Scharping should improve at guard in Year 2, giving the team potentially three plus players. Nick Martin and Zach Fulton need to be average for this to be the strength of the team.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins is gone, but there is depth and speed here with Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and Randall Cobb. Even when Fuller's inevitable injured, a Cooks/Stills/Cobb trio should still be effective.

TE: Darren Fells, Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins aren't great, but they aren't bad. Again, there is depth here.

RB: The Texans are married to the David Johnson/Duke Johnson duo, for better or worse. David Johnson hasn't been good since 2016, but maybe he has a big year. Again, not great, but potentially OK.

DL: J.J. Watt will anchor things as long as he stays healthy. Brandon Dunn, Charles Omenihu, Angelo Blackson, Ross Blacklock will all be part of the rotation. There is a lot of potential here, but there is also a high potential for failure, especially if Watt gets hurt.

ILB: Zach Cunningham played very well last year and got paid for it. Bernardrick McKinney is average. Dylan Cole provides depth.

OLB: Again, a lot of averageness. Whitney Mercilus has always just been OK. Brennan Scarlet and Jacob Martin are just OK. Draft pick Jonathan Greenard has a lot of developing to do.

CB: Bradley Roby leads a very average to below average group that includes Gareon Conley and Vernon Hargreaves. Maybe Lonnie Johnson develops in Year 2, but otherwise this is a group that will struggle.

S: Justin Reid is a potential Pro Bowler. Jaylen Watkins and Eric Murray are just guys. The secondary as a whole is a big question mark.

Regardless of how it comes together, these will be the position players who will determine the Texans fate.

And it all starts next week.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome