The Texans were clearing out their locker and discussed the upcoming offseason

Offseason arrives for disappointed Texans

Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Texans discussed plenty of things as they cleared out their lockers and headed into the offseason.

Bill O'Brien not ruling out new play caller

When asked if he thought about changing the play calling duties for the offense the Texans head coach didn't explicitly state change would or wouldn't happen. He did say it would be looked at by the team.

"I think at the end of the year we evaluate everything," he said. "Obviously, we just ended yesterday. But, we'll take a look at everything. We always try to make the best decisions in the best interest of winning. Like I said after the game, I think we have a very good future here. A lot of things to fix, but like I said, we'll take a look at everything."

Plenty of people would tell O'Brien he needs to give up the play calling to someone else. It doesn't seem likely O'Brien, who passed those duties to George Godsey years ago and took them back after his firing, would again give up the headset and the play sheet.

Quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan has gotten looks as an offensive coordinator before so perhaps he would be a in-house option. Anyone outside the organization forces the team to adjust to their philosophy and has to get along with O'Brien and Watson who already seemingly have a strong bond.

Like O'Brien said, it should certainly be evaluated.

Clowney's future is here

Jadeveon Clowney is a free agent but the impending payday isn't on his mind.

"I ain't thinking about that right now," Clowney said. " Just trying to soak in us losing this game right here. That's what I've been thinking about I haven't been thinking about that."

He said he was really upset with the loss to the Colts and it hurt his perception of the season. Clowney mentioned he thought they had four games left coming into the playoffs, meaning playing in the Super Bowl, and could have done something special.

He did discuss his thoughts on next season though.

"I promise to the Texans, and whoever else is watching, I'm going to be a much better and improved player next season."

Clowney said he went to sleep and woke up thinking about how he can be "much better" player and he hasn't even thought about a contract. He said he was worrying about his craft and he's focused on what's ahead.

When he was asked about potentially being franchise tagged by the Texans and his feeling Clowney brushed it off.

"We'll talk about that when it comes," said Clowney. "I'm going to worry about getting better. If I'm here, somewhere else."

He went on to say the business side getting settled would make him very comfortable and help him take care of his family. He then said he wanted to play the rest of his career with the Texans after spending five years with the team.

Romeo's return expected

Bill O'Brien said he expects defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to return next season. He didn't elaborate, nor did he spend many words confirming the veteran coach's future.

The Texans finished 12th in total defense but 28th in pass defense. Their ability to stop rushing attacks was clear, finishing third in the league. O'Brien wasn't happy with the team's play on third down; they were ranked 20th allowing just over a 40 percent conversion rate. They were 11th in sacks with 43 sacks of opposing quarterbacks.

Crennel did help turn in the team's best takeaway statistic since they led the league in 2014. The Texans had 29 takeaways, up from 16 the year before and good for the fourth best mark in the league.

John Pagano is on the defensive staff as a senior defensive assistant and outside linebackers coach. He previously was the defensive coordinator for the Raiders in 2017 and the Chargers from 2012-2016. If Crennel's return became uncertain there's a chance Pagano could take over for the Texans.

Changes coming at cornerback?

Bill O'Brien made a comment that stood out when he was asked about having a franchise quarterback and not having to look for one anymore.

In listing elements of a successful team O'Brien mentioned "you need corners that can play man" as in man defense. The Texans use a lot of zone with the cornerbacks and the skills of their current defensive backs don't lend itself to playing man coverage.

The Texans have three picks in the first two rounds and will have plenty of money to spend in free agency as well. While people will be focused on the offensive line, the cornerbacks ended up being a weak point on this team as well. Injuries certainly played a part, but even when healthy, they underwhelmed.

Kevin Johnson said he is cleared and ready to get to work as he is under contract for next season. Kareem Jackson is a pending free agent. Aaron Colvin was a big free agent addition this season but injuries derailed him even further after his slow start to the year.

"He's a good guy. He worked hard," O'Brien said. "He was injured in the first Colts game, and I think that was a tough injury. Not to make an excuses for him, but tough one to come back from. It was an ankle injury and it just – I'm not sure that he every fully recovered from it. I don't want to speak for him, but we just felt like at the end of the day, we went with the 46 guys that we felt were the healthiest and the most ready to go."

Loaded with opportunity

The Texans have three picks in the top two rounds and are scheduled to have over $65 million in money so spend on free agency. There is a need for improvement on the offensive line and above we mentioned the cornerbacks as well. For many who want wholesale changes on the offensive line, remember this Bill O'Brien quote when free agency rolls around.

"I don't think you want to build it through free agency," said the head coach. "That's my personal belief. You want to build it through the draft so you can mold the guys. I don't think you want to bring in a bunch of free agents. These are decision that we have to make and these are decisions that we are going to be talking about daily."

O'Brien already has two free agents on his offensive line with guards Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete. He had a big free agent addition at cornerback fail him. They have plenty of players to decide on with Jadeveon Clowney and Tyrann Mathieu among others being free agents. That being said, they will have some needs they can address with the money in free agency and should use it.

Training camp roads bring them back home

The Texans will return to Houston for training camp after spending the past two camps in West Virginia practicing at The Greenbrier. Bill O'Brien didn't confirm it, saying it would be a discussion with Cal McNair, but that it was "trending that way" when it comes to late July.

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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