Team opts for bargains over flash

Texans fans melting down over free agency: Don't panic (or do, a little)

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On the surface, the Houston Texans have some work to do in free agency. But despite what you read on Twitter, the sky is not falling because they did not dive in the first day with high profile signings.

To quote the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...Don't Panic.

Yes, they lost both Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson in free agency, but Jackson was not part of their future plans. They wanted to keep Mathieu, but were not willing to pay top dollar. Instead they signed former Jaguar Tashaun Gipson at roughly half the price.

At best, it is a break even move. But Gipson comes much cheaper than Matthieu ($14 million per season) and Jackson ($11 million). He also specializes in covering tight ends, which the Texans have struggled with for years. Is he better than Mathieu? Probably not. But is the drop-off that extreme? Not at all.

Adding help

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs

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They also added former Broncos corner Bradley Roby. He has been inconsistent, but is young and has upside. He should replace Jackson. He is one a one-year, $10 million prove it deal, much like Matthieu signed last year. Is he perfect? No, but no one in free agency is. These are two smart, low risk high reward signings.

More to come?

Jonathan Joseph

Jonathan Joseph is old.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Are they done yet? They should not be. But adding another cornerback after Tuesday's signings - perhaps Pierre Dessir - at least gives them serviceable players at the position. Adding those to Jonathan Joseph, who is closer to the NFL graveyard than being an elite corner, and free-agent bust Aaron Colvin gives them at least some options at the position. Colvin was hurt and could be better, but they should not count on that. And they did not overspend for Roby.

Still problems

Texans offensive line The Texans offensive line has been in decline since 2014. Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The offensive line, however, remains an abject mess. They needed to sign at least one decent player, and much like last year, they are down to scraps. They will have to nail the draft - something they have not done with offensive linemen - or next year will look a lot like last year. There is certainly cause for concern there unless they can make a deal or find a hidden gem. They tried that last year and we see how it worked out.

But at least they made an effort on one position group with decent, low-risk options. That should mitigate some of the panic.

It's hard watching teams like Cleveland push all their chips in the middle while the Texans plug holes with homeless guys. It is easy to panic. But free agency is not over. If this is all they do? Then they have failed. But there is still time. Let's wait it out.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

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Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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