Why the timing is just right for the dawning of a new era for Texans

Now is the time!. Composite image by Jack Brame.

There were days in the not too distant past when the Texans were considered an up-and-coming team. They had a young franchise quarterback, a few weapons around him, and a decent defense. Things were looking up and had a very positive outlook. One could go as far as to say there could've (or should've, depending on your outlook) been at least a decade of dominance. Then it all came crashing down.

A once promising young coach turned into a petulant spoiled brat drunk off power and consumed with feeding his ego, who was unceremoniously unseated. A generational talent along the defensive line making a beeline for the Hall of Fame turned into an injury-plagued shell of his former self and appeared to be more caricature than real person. Finally, the shining star squeaky clean franchise quarterback turned out to be an alleged sexual deviant who wanted more control over franchise decisions and wanted out when he wasn't given his way despite signing an extension only months prior.

Those were three of the key blocks that fell into place, contributing to the demise of a once bright future turned into a dimly lit closet of despair. Sure, there were other contributing factors, but these were three of the keys that led this team down this path. Enter Nick Caserio. Armed with a six-year contract, two decades of experience in New England's winning culture, and a piercing stare, he came to Houston and knew what he was up against.

When Deshaun Watson made known his demand to be out of Houston and his allegations were made public, it threw a monkey wrench in Caserio's plans. Rebuilding around the most important centerpiece (a franchise quarterback) is easier than doing so without said centerpiece. The allegations and legal trouble put an immediate halt to any attempts to trade Watson or convincing him to stay. When those troubles cleared the grand jury, it greased the skids for a smooth entry into the trade process. Watson was sent to Cleveland for a decent haul.

Now is the time for Caserio to truly step up to the plate and let people know what he's all about. Now is the time for fans to regain their passion for this team. Now is the time for the younger guys on this roster, and the ones being added, to show up and show out. Now is the time!

The future may not seem as bright right now, but if Caserio and his staff put together good drafts with the bounty from the trade, things will look brighter much sooner. Contending NFL teams have at least a capable starting quarterback with good to great pieces around him. The best of those teams have a true franchise quarterback with great pieces around him. The hunt is back on for that guy. Some will think Davis Mills is that guy. I'm not convinced. It would be ideal if he turns into one of the aforementioned quarterbacks, but I can't see it right now. I do believe he should be given this coming year to prove what he can be. With better talent around him and a more capable/experienced head coach, who knows what the man can turn into. Either that, or the team armed with two first rounders in the next three years can move those picks to move up to draft, or trade for their franchise guy.

Either way, I see better days ahead for the Texans. I see reasons to get excited again. Am I 100% convinced Caserio will knock every maneuver out of the park? No, because he's had a few missteps along the way. Hall of Fame general managers all have moves they regret. The difference is they knew how to recover and often hit way more than they missed. Do I think fans should resume their typical ticket buying, tailgating, and merchandise purchases? That's up to them, but I wouldn't until after the draft to see what players are coming to get that excited about. This is the dawn of a new era. It feels like those cold mornings when your alarm goes off, but it's still dark out and raining. You get up knowing what you have in front of you, knowing it'll be a journey, knowing you'll have to persevere, but also knowing if you seize the day, it'll be well worth the hassle. Seize the day, Texans fans. It'll turn out for the better if you're patient and wait it out.

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The Texans host the Steelers at NRG this Sunday. Composite Getty Image.

What: Texans vs. Steelers

When: 10/1 12pm CST kickoff

Where: Houston, TX NRG Stadium

TV/Radio: KHOU-TV, KILT-Radio

Betting Lines: Steelers -2.5 (-120), O/U 42 (-110) *As of this writing

The Watt Brother Bowl takes place on Sunday. I'm calling it that because the Texans are honoring their all-time great J.J. while they're playing his younger brother and current hell raising edge rusher for the Steelers T.J. The Steelers have won four of the last five matchups vs. the Texans by an average score of 28-17. The biggest difference is that the Steelers have a second year starter at quarterback in Kenny Pickett, and the Texans have a rookie in C.J. Stroud. When you look at the two quarterbacks, both organizations have full faith in each guy. Both teams have tried to build a defense to help their young signal callers. Both are still trying to surround their franchise guys with weapons.

When the Steelers have the ball: Here's a game where Will Anderson Jr can make headway as a proven EDGE. Stacking consistent performances together and helping your team win games by making winning plays. It helps that Pickett has tiny hands. This was a knock on him during draft season last year. Hand size for a quarterback impacts grip. That can not only impact accuracy, but it could make it easier to strip the ball from him.

While he doesn't have the weapons to torch this defense, Pickett does hand the ball off to Najee Harris who's more than capable. Averaging only 67 yards rushing as a team can't be taken lightly. Denzel Perryman is expected to miss the game Sunday, so hopefully that won't help jumpstart the Steelers' run game. The Texans defense will have to key in on the run, given that they average giving up 117 a game on the ground. Those aforementioned weapons may not be scary, but the injuries to the defensive backs has hurt. Tavierre Thomas is expected to miss the game recovering from hand surgery. Jimmie Ward coming back last week showed what happens when they have a top safety back there, especially when the pass rush is turning up. Hopefully, the Texans can capitalize again this week, with safety Jalen Pitre expected to return to action.

When the Texans have the ball: Good luck stopping Tank Dell and Stroud! These guys have already established themselves as a formidable duo three games into their careers. A great way to get that connection going is to pound the rock. The Steelers are giving up over 150 yards on the ground per game so far this season. That's also a good way to keep T.J. at bay while J.J. watches. With Laremy Tunsil and Josh Jones both expected to miss the game, here are the offensive line starters: Austin Deculus, Kendrick Green, Jarrett Patterson, Shaq Mason, and George Fant.

Making the younger Watt brother slow down a bit instead of going balls to the wall after Stroud because a run could be coming will help the pass game tremendously. Stroud will have to continue to make quick decisions, but even quicker this game. I wouldn't be surprised to see his first pick of his career here, given the pressure he's most likely to be under. Especially when your offensive line starters were mostly all backups to begin this season.

Outcome: I failed to place a money line bet on the Texans last week because the game started and the live bet wasn't as profitable. I wanted to take a chance on them given their recent record against the Jags. Looking at their last five vs. the Steelers, one would say why make that bet this week? It's because I believe in Stroud more than I believe in Pickett. While T.J. Watt is a different kind of monster, Will Anderson Jr is on his way to becoming something special. Texans win/cover, and hit the over, but barely: Texans 24, Steelers 20.

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