Some realistic questions for Texans fans entering the 2018 season

Some realistic questions for Texans fans entering the 2018 season
Having a healthy J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney would be huge. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

As we approach another NFL season, I have questions for Texans fans which require honest answers. With a franchise quarterback and plenty of pieces on both sides of the ball, one would assume they are trending upward. How far does this team need to go this year and what do they need to accomplish for you to deem it a success? Let's have some fun, answer some questions, and get everyone ready for what we hope is an exciting and successful campaign.

When you look at the short history of this franchise and the season by season records, we know that the norm is 9 wins and 7 losses.  The other frustrating thing is the fact that winning the division and winning one playoff game has also become the ceiling in terms of accomplishments. In a football crazy state and town like Houston, fans have higher goals and expectations. Some experts have picked the Texans to go to the Super Bowl and others seem to predict .500 with a 2 game jump either direction depending on Deshaun Watson's health.  So I ask you, the fan, what is your realistic expectation and prediction for where the team will finish this season?

From Deshaun Watson to J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadaeveon Clowney, the health of these players will play a huge role in the success of the team. Obviously Watson's health is paramount as we’ve seen too many seasons go by the wayside when dealing with a less than adequate quarterback. Even though last season was a small sample size cut short by his devastating knee injury, what we saw was enough to believe that this was the quarterback of the future. A healthy Watson has had writers and experts predict a good season, potentially going on to win MVP As we’ve seen with the Rockets,  it’s more important to have team success than individual accolades.

What do you think of Watson? Do you expect continued progress? Do you expect a bit of regression? Dare I say it, but do you expect him to stay healthy for a full 16 games? Obviously any question that entails the quarterback also should include what your expectations are in terms of the offensive line and its ability to keep him clean. Is it formidable enough?

On the defensive side of the ball there are numerous questions that have to be asked. What do you think this defense is going to do this season? After all, two years ago it was a top 5 defense in the entire league. Last season under Mike Vrabel the squad suffered and so did the D as the team's defensive unit was bottom 5 in the league. As Vrabel somehow got the head coaching job of the Tennessee Titans, Romeo Crennel returns to his familiar position of defensive coordinator. A defensive genius known for his ability to plan and scheme and stop some of the best offices in football, he obviously needs his best players to get healthy and stay that way. Let's take a look at the key personnel and analyze where they are in their recovery and if they can stay healthy this season.

Watt is the face of the franchise and the most popular and visible player both on and off the field. The man has been the defensive player of the year three times, but he has only played eight games over the last two seasons. He is coming off a fractured tibial plateau, a major leg injury that has some questioning if he will ever return to anything close to the form that he has been known for. His rehab and recovery has gone well and he has already returned to game action this weekend in game 3 of the preseason. So I ask you, what do you expect of Watt this year? Do you expect him to stay healthy? If he does, what kind of numbers do you think he will put up? Is staying healthy good enough or do you need to see him return to form as one of the best defenders in the game?

As for the rest of the defense, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney are both coming off injuries that have the front office, coaching staff and fans somewhat worried as we get close to the start of the regular season. As important as Watt is, without these two guys the defense as a whole is nothing. Clowney saw limited action this weekend and most importantly, stayed on track to be ready on September 9. He had a breakout season last year and most importantly, was able to stay healthy for all 16 games. Although Mercilus has yet to participate in practice or games this preseason, he is said to be on track to return from his torn pectoral muscle and be back on the field against the Patriots in week 1.

With all of that said, what are you expecting from this dynamic duo? Will they remain healthy? Will they make this defense return to the top of the league in terms of overall rank and ability to wreak havoc?

As we inch closer to the regular season, I'm curious how would you answer these questions? Be honest and don't let your heart sway your head into making unrealistic decisions. It's a big year for your Houston Texans filled with high expectations and lots of promise. We all know that the biggest questions surrounding the team involve staying healthy and getting thier injured stars back to being fit and formidable. Regardless of how you respond to each and every question above, the good news is, the season will be filled with all the answers as the schedule plays out and the story unfolds. Are you ready for some football?

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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

In a week full of mostly Hurricane Beryl-related bad news, the Astros organization had some discouraging news of their own when manager Joe Espada told the media that Lance McCullers has been shut down from pitching after his arm did not respond well to his latest bullpen session. The team says they are "formulating a plan for what's next."

Another Astros starter making his way back from injury is HOF-bound Justin Verlander. Verlander has been on the IL since June 16th with neck discomfort and, while there was initial hope that JV would only miss a start, his status has become increasingly murky as he is still apparently not close to returning.

Shifting from the health questions of the starters to the performance questions of the bullpen, some Houston fans have voiced concern via social media that Astros big-ticket 9th inning pitcher Josh Hader is not looking like a "shut-down" closer. Hader gave up more home runs in the first week of July (3) as he did the entire month of June (2).

In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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