Andre Johnson will inarguably go down as Houston’s best offensive player in their short history. He racked up 1,012 catches for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns in his tenure as a Texan. Arian Foster still has a few years of elite level play left in him, but given his injury history it becomes difficult to forecast him usurping the crown.
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Johnson’s legacy may end up leaving a sour taste in Texans’ fan’s mouths. Finally rewarded with a capable quarterback after an ugly separation after the 2014 season ended, he should put up career numbers, especially in Indianapolis’ pass-happy offense.
Following Johnson’s departure, general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien addressed the hole on the depth chart via free agency and the 2015 NFL Draft. They signed Nate Washington, who was a free agent from AFC South Division rival Tennessee Titans. Cecil Shorts III, from another division rival –the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans also had a major steal in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft in Jaelen Strong out of Arizona State University.
All three of these players combined in the 2014 season had 175 receptions for 2,369 yards and 13 touchdowns. Now, Strong was playing in an offensive-heavy Pac-12 Conference in 2014, but Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts III accounted for more yards than Andre Johnson did regardless of Strong’s production. It will be interesting to see though, if Jaelen Strong can improve on his 10 touchdown receptions as a junior in college. After all, he is only 6 months removed from his twenty-first birthday.
Andre Johnson accumulated 85 receptions for 936 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2014. His production slumped from previous years, as he had five straight 1,000 yard (healthy) seasons spanning from 2008-2013. His lack of motivation and overall distaste for Houston can be seen in his drop in production. Yes, that means I still believe he has some great years left in the tank.
Given the evidence, it’s a safe gamble from the front office staff of the Texans. These three new offensive weapons should have no problem replacing the production void created by Johnson’s exit.
Look for Jaelen Strong to make an impact at the third or fourth wide receiver slot at some point in this coming football season.