Falcon Points

Texans keep trying to erase mistakes, but at what cost?

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans released cornerback Aaron Colvin on Tuesday, a night after his embarrassing performance against the Saints. Colvin signed as a free agent last season and proved to be a disaster. He was given $18 million at signing, of which the Texans will still have to eat 7.5 million this year.

Signing Colvin did not work out. At least the Texans ejected, and signed free agent Phillip Gaines, who might be an upgrade. Then again, anything would be an upgrade.

Bill O'Brien the GM continues to try to erase mistakes at high costs. And probably making more along the way.

Had to be done

Colvin was clearly a mess, and cutting him probably was a must. It was once again admitting a big mistake. In the last month, they have cut running back D'Onta Foreman, a third round mistake. They traded Martinas Rankin, a third round mistake. They IR'd tight end Kahale Warring, who looks like...you guessed it, a third-round mistake. All they got in return was veteran RB Carlos Hyde, who at least looked good against the Saints. But the assets they have punted on are adding up.

Where it all started

It all began in 2017 when the Texans traded tackle Duane Brown to Seattle for next to nothing. They have been trying to fix left tackle ever since. That led to paying a premium for Laremy Tunsil. When Foreman was cut, they had to pay a premium for Duke Johnson. While those moves might not be bad in the long run, they sacrificed draft picks to try to correct mistakes.

More problems

They likely find themselves having made more recent miscues that will have to be corrected. The Colvin signing cost them money and a possibly the game against the Saints. But that was an easy erasure. The problem was not addressing the corner position effectively in free agency and the draft. They used a high pick on corner Lonnie Johnson, who only played special teams Monday night. While he might eventually work out, the fact that they thought Colvin was a better option...

And they have now invested five premium picks - three firsts and two seconds - on the offensive line. Only Tunsil started Monday night.

Fresh mistakes

They traded Jadeveon Clowney for nothing, weakening their defense, when they could have kept him another year. That is a mistake they will have to clean up next. Then on Tuesday they paid Nick Martin - a below average center - like a Pro Bowler. Don't be surprised if they Colvin that one in a year or two. They could have easily used the Martin money on Clowney. Instead they double down on less than ediocrity.

What does it all mean?

Deshaun Watson covers a lot of mistakes. But at some point, the Texans have to stop making them, and start making good calls. Maybe Bradley Roby works out. Maybe Johnson improves and is a factor by season's end. Maybe Titus Howard and Max Sharping become quality OL starters before the year is out. Those are realistic possibilities.

But what if they are mistakes, too? Watson can only carry them so far. As Bill O'Brien has become the be all, end all, he has erased past errors. Most of them are his own. So can his current moves be trusted?

I have mentioned this before, but this is very much like Chip Kelly's tenure in Philadelphia, when he took over personnel and made one misstep after another. At least when he was fired, they got a real GM and head coach and won a Super Bowl.

Watson should carry them to a winning season and a possible playoff berth, but if not, the mistakes will only be more glaring. And if O'Brien keeps making them? More of Watson's prime will be wasted.

O'Brien keeps making moves and trying to eliminate his missteps. And owner Cal McNair is giving him free reign. But are they making even more mistakes in the process?

We will find out soon enough.

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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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