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