You just aren't that into this team and I think I know why

I know the Texans are 10-4, but...

Bill O'Brien might be a reason you are not buying in to the Texans. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

You don't love the Houston Texans. Well, it seems like most of you don't. That has become evident over the course of this season. Some of you like them, but you don't love them. I'll admit that I thought winning might change things for you, but it hasn't. In fact, the level of disappointment after the Texans win over the Jets was comparable to that of a loss dropping them out of the playoff hunt. They have won 10 of 11 (which will end up being just the third double digit win total in team history), will win the division their division for 3 of the last 4 years, and currently have the #2 seed in the AFC. This is all AFTER starting 0-3. So why do the Texans not have your heart?

You Don't Like Billy
Anytime you have a conversation with someone about why they aren't buying into this Texans team, there is a good chance that Bill O'Brien's name is going to come up. Fans just don't like him. They don't like his demeanor. He's too "red-ass" for them I guess. I know that over the years I've heard people say they wanted more fire from their coaches or managers, but when they actually get it, they don't like it.

Now, admittedly, there are plenty of people whose issues with O'Brien have just as much to do with clock management or "play-calling." I feel like that is fair. I don't think he is as bad a play-caller as everyone paints him to be, but I do have an issue with this team's inability to convert FGs into TDs in the red zone. O'Brien has to own some of that. Same goes for that game management. Yuck. However, when people say Deshaun Watson succeeds in spite of O'Brien or struggles because of him, you know that it's at least a little personal.

It's Just Not Pretty
Let's face it - when the Texans win, it's usually a little ugly. Sometimes it's a lot ugly. The pick-six win against the Bills. The messy FG fest vs. Dallas. The missed FG vs. Denver. The non-punt win vs. the Colts. The late W vs. the Jets. These aren't the wins that good teams usually have in a single season.

Because of "bad wins," many fans aren't treating this like a 10-win team, they are treating it like fool's gold. They just don't play consistently dominantly on either side of the ball. They need a definable identity.

Deshaun Comes Back to Earth
Deshaun Watson's rookie season was can't-miss football. He had 19 touchdown passes (and 21 total TDs) in just six starts and seven total games. Insane production. Watson was on a tear that had rarely been seen in NFL history before he got hurt. Unfortunately for Watson and the Texans, I think many fans and media members believed that 2017 was the norm and that just wasn't and isn't fair to Watson. Defensive coordinators get paid too and they went to work on Watson studying his tendencies and weaknesses and have game-planned accordingly. Watson is having a solid season as he continues to grow and learn the game, but it feels like a letdown to many fans. It's not fair, but it's reality.

The Astros/Rocket Effect
I honestly believe that the silent culprit that has killed the energy around the Texans is the success of the Astros and Rockets in recent years. Winning a World Series set a new standard. There is no way around it. The Astros made us feel an excitement level that hasn't been experienced in this city since the mid 90s.

Oh, and by the way, this team is LOVEABLE! People love the players and love to cheer for them.The Rockets followed that up with a 60+ win season, an MVP season from James Harden and team with great chemistry who played with great passion and effort. Both of these teams had the ability to blow the doors off of opponents. When we watch the Texans, we don't see dominance. The bar has been set so high that the Texans are struggling to reach that level. Fans want dominant.

I kind of feel badly for the Texans, but I feel worse for us. We've all become more cynical and unhappy in general and when you combine that with the elements discussed above, it's made it hard for fans and media members to just enjoy wins. I get it - the Texans don't feel like a championship team, but wouldn't it be nice to be happy after a win again?

Slow to make big moves hasn't equaled a drop in potential for Texans

Texans are better despite slow free agency

The Texans are better today than when the season ended. It isn't a huge improvement, and there is room for far more improvement, but they're better.

Despite some people's frustration with the Texans not making moves they really haven't missed out on much, the draft is where they will truly improve, and people aren't remembering how good, or bad, they were last season.

Tyrann Mathieu is not $20 million better than Tashaun Gipson. I don't even believe Mathieu was the right type of safety for the Texans. He was a mismatch problem on bigger players, specifically tight ends where Gipson thrives. Mathieu was the third best safety on the team last season not playing as well as Kareem Jackson when he was at safety or the total body of Justin Reid who impressed in his rookie season. While the leadership aspect can't be denied, the Texans praised repeatedly the locker room personality Mathieu brought, the team doesn't lack for leaders.

Gipson has had more success in recent years statistically than Mathieu and plays a different style. You'll notice far less tackles and no sacks to Gipson's stat line. He will be asked to cover more than Mathieu was and his success in recent seasons shows he can do that well. He hasn't had to clean up a lot of messes in the Jaguars secondary, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye held their own, his experience playing deep will hopefully help handle the lack of top talent at cornerback for the Texans.

Speaking of cornerback, if that is where Kareem Jackson was going to play for the Texans in 2019 then there is no loss whatsoever in seeing him leave. He was not good as a corner last year after a really solid start to the year as a safety. Bradley Roby is more physically gifted and took a prove-it deal to try to hit the market with more buzz than this year. I would have preferred Jackson sticking around as a safety but alas the Texans didn't seem to see his value there.

Wholesale changes on the offensive line did almost nothing to improve it last season so I am not sure why some fans and media have desired that again. Yes, they shouldn't have been outbid on Roger Saffold (Titans) by a division rival who has invested greatly in their offensive line. No, Trent Brown (Raiders) and his bloated contract wasn't the answer at left tackle. Matt Paradis is coming off a broken leg at the center spot though he would have been an upgrade at center.

It is clear help on the line is coming via the draft, a deep one along the line might I add. With three picks in the top two rounds there will be opportunities to find players to push Nick Martin, Senio Kelemete, and Julién Davenport and it isn't out of the question. Seantrell Henderson despite his new contract is pushed by a rookie as well. This is a fine plan as only Nick Martin was a top round pick of any of the Texans current offensive linemen.

Also, this team won 11 games last season. Don't let a disappointing playoff performance skew how this team played. Deshaun Watson is going to improve and that is the most important thing about this team. He won't take as many hits as he did last season with draft investment and improvement of players on the roster. The rookie tight ends have a year of seasoning under their belt. D'Onta Foreman and Keke Coutee should be healthy and eventually Will Fuller will return. The defense returns or has replaced key figures.

Acting like this is a team that had to spend money just because they had cap space isn't a smart way to look at this team. Typically a team sucks when they have this much cap space, the Texans didn't fall into that category. Is there still room for improvement? No doubt. There's also room to find multiple bargains, be a destination for a trade post-draft, and pay Clowney. Relax, this is a long offseason. The Texans are better today than last week.

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