Why this Texans team is closer to a Super Bowl than you think
It is no secret that the 2018 Houston Texans roster has a few serious areas of concern. With that said, I believe I have found a former Super Bowl champion with an interestingly similar roster that may just provide all Texan fans with a shimmer of hope. So what Super Bowl caliber team could I possibly have in mind, and what could I see them having in common? How about the 2013 Seattle Seahawks. Follow me as I break down each position group, highlighting similarities and differences that I believe point towards the Texans being a surprise title contender this upcoming season.
Starting with the quarterback comparison. In 2013 Russell Wilson was entering into his second season in the NFL. After completing all sixteen regular season games during their Super Bowl run, Wilson finished with a QBR of 101.2, a 63% completion percentage and 209 yards per game passing. (Pro-football-reference.com) For the Texans, Deshaun Watson will be entering into his sophomore season in 2018 and though he did not collect the same Rookie of the Year honors as Wilson did in his first season, it can be argued that if it was not for his midseason ACL injury, he would have been a legitimate candidate for the award. Through just seven games, Watson had a QBR of 103, a completion percentage of 62%, and an average of 242 yards per game. All signs from his rookie season point to Watson progressing much as Wilson did into his sophomore season, with arguably an even higher ceiling for growth. Just as Wilson was for the Seahawks, Watson is an explosive playmaker that will keep any opposing defenses on their heels while giving the Texans a fighting chance.
At the moment, I have to give the advantage of the running back position to the 2013 Seahawks, considering that their backfield was led by five-time Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch. Lynch bolstered the Seahawks offense with a powerful running style, and also provided the team with a physical smash mouth attitude. While the 2018 Texans have no Marshawn Lynch in their backfield, they do have a potential thunder and lightning duo with Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman. If both backs can stay healthy, the Texans run game can at least keep defenses honest.
The wide receiver position is where the Texans make up some lost ground for the other positions in which they may be lacking. While the Seahawks relied on a young and unproven tandem of Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate, the sheer presence of DeAndre Hopkins gives the Texans wide receiver group the advantage. Not to mention the sparks of game breaking ability shown by Will Fuller who in 2017 snagged seven touchdowns in ten games. With the surprise development of one more receiving piece for Watson to select from, the Texans aerial attack would flourish.
This is one of the two most important areas of comparison. In 2013 Seattle’s offensive line was littered with injures and according to rotoworld.com, finished the season ranked 20th in the NFL. While the Texans offensive line may have ranked 32nd last season, the signing of free agent Zach Fulton and the return of other pieces from injury make it doubtful that they will perform that poorly again. Yet, what this proves is that it is possible to overcome a below average offensive line if you have a quarterback with the playmaking abilities and elusiveness of Russell Wilson. Lucky for you Texans fans, Deshaun Watson has just that. Even with one of the worst offensive lines in 2017, it was clear that Watson stopped the bleeding and raised his line’s performance while he was on the field. If the Seahawks were able to win a Super Bowl with the pieced together group they had, all hope is not lost for the Texans.
DL & LB
If you can remember, the 2013 Seahawks defense was not only feared because of its secondary but also because of its overpowering and relentless collection of pass rushers and linebackers. Just like the Seahawks, the Texans front seven is an extremely formidable group when they are all healthy. According to teamrankings.com, in 2013, the Seahawks defense tallied up 44 total sacks and gave up an average of 385 yards per game. In 2015, the last season in which the Texans front seven were able to complete a full healthy season, they sacked opposing quarterbacks a total of 45 times and gave up an average of 310 yards per game. Along with the development of the Texans young defensive stars such as Benardrick McKinney and Jadeveon Clowney, a healthy Texans defensive is primed for a return to dominance that could lay the groundwork for a Super Bowl contender.
This is where the biggest deficit exist when it comes to the Texans comparison to the 2013 Seahawks, and their chances of replicating Seattle’s championship roster. The Texans secondary currently draws no comparison to the “Legion of Boom” and most likely never will. With that said, this does not mean all hope is lost. With help from their fierce front seven, the Texans secondary simply has to take care of their most basic responsibilities and make plays when it counts. Houston can also hold out hope that newly acquired safety Tyrann Mathieu will bring a spark to their secondary by playing the role of a scrappy, ball hawking, and tone setting secondary leader much like Earl Thomas was for Seattle.
Though at first glance it may seem too good to be true, these similarities lead me to believe that Houston’s current roster has the necessary pieces in place to compete for a Super Bowl. During their championship contending years, by no means was the Seahawks team perfect. Seattle’s Super Bowl aspirations relied on a game-breaking talent at quarterback who like Watson, did not have the pleasure or security of playing behind a solidified offensive line but had a hard-nose defense that never backed down. With the help of a healthy defensive core that has proven the ability to raise the play of lesser talent around them, and an outstanding season from sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson, this Texans team could catch the league by storm and bring a Super Bowl title to Houston.