The Z Report

Lance Zierlein: Texans effective use of free agency means patching up wounded roster

The Texans get some much-needed help in the secondary. Jaguars.com

Most every NFL team would agree that the construction of winning team must begin from the ground up. That obviously means that drafting and developing your own talents is essential, not just for longer-term windows of success, but for financial feasibility. Teams need to hit on their early round draft picks since those players typically are the most high impact players, but success in the middle and late round picks is essential because they are less expensive and create needed financial freedom for tweaking the team through free agency.

Band-Aids and peroxide

To be clear, free agency absolutely has value, but it should never be used to build the core of a team. Organizations who try to buy their way into blue chip talents ultimately pay a premium price for a player who can have a long-term, negative financial impact on a roster if he busts. If you bust on a first round pick, it doesn’t prevent the team from continuing to make necessary moves to the roster. Bust on a tier one free agent and you pay the iron price (well maybe not the “iron price” if you’ve seen Game of Thrones).

The Houston Texans roster is like a wound that is bleeding all over the kitchen. They haven’t hit an artery, but their offensive line and secondary is definitely getting figurative blood all over the kitchen floor. Texans general manager Brian Gaine is going to utilize free agency for what it should be used for… band-aids and peroxide. Band-aids will stop the bleeding, but the peroxide can help get you better.

Aaron Colvin, CB, Jacksonville (Peroxide): Colvin is solid but hardly spectacular at cornerback. He’s got good size and might be able to play outside in taking over Johnathan Joseph’s spot. There is also a chance that he could play in the slot which would hasten Kareem Jackson’s move to safety (or departure from roster). Colvin will get a four year deal and will be a starter, but the Texans will still need to target a cornerback in the draft.

Seantrel Henderson, OT, Buffalo (Band-Aid): Henderson is a big, powerful tackle with long arms and a lack of starts over the last couple of years. Henderson has missed time due to Crohn’s disease and a 10-game game suspension for a second violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Henderson is no lock to become a starter this year, but he has a decent shot at it. With a one-year deal, Henderson is definitely a stop-gap.

Zach Fulton, OG/OC, Kansas City (Peroxide): Fulton has experience as a guard and center but might be coming to the Texans as a starting center which would likely mean Nick Martin would be forced to move to the guard spot. While Fulton and Martin both have experience at guard and center (Martin played some guard at Notre Dame), the Texans may find that the optimal combination is with Fulton at guard and Martin at center. Fulton isn’t going to set the world on fire but he should become a core member of a re-tooled offensive line.

 

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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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