Aug 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Texans tackle Duane Brown (76) lines up in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Texans defeated the Broncos 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
In my opinion this group continues to be the biggest area of opportunity for the Texans. They continue to struggle with run blocking, which was a focal point in practice last week as they could not score from the 1 yard line after 7 attempts. This group needs someone not named Duane Brown to step up and play well for them.
The right side of the offensive line, regardless of what lineup is in continues to give up pressure and fails to pick up gap filling linebackers that are tackling backs for short gains and losses.
Chris Myers announced his retirement last week after not being signed, and instead of saluting him for a solid career with the Texans I think that they should seriously consider giving him a call, at a minimum bring him in to push the other guys and help to mold Ben Jones into the center that he has the potential to be.
Derek Newton played well in spurts last year, but what we need to see from him is consistency. He played well at guard but struggled a bit at the tackle position when matched up against pass rushers that have a combination of speed and power on the defensive line.
A perfect demonstration of Newton’s struggles against such a player occurred in practice (which was filmed by the Hard Knocks crew), as J.J. Watt switched his positioning just before the snap blew by Newton and caused Alfred Blue to fumble. Of course that is an extreme considering he was matched up against the best defensive end in football, but Newton has to get better at protecting from edge rushers
Xavier Su’a-Filo is a heavy investment that so far has not paid dividends. He needs to stay healthy and start to show some ability to be the explosive interior lineman that the Texans were hoping for when he was drafted. He was considered to be one of the best offensive linemen in the draft after a brilliant career in UCLA.
He is supposed to be the “battering ram” of this offensive line, the athletic swing guard that can pull to either side to create or widen gaps on the edge and blow up interior defensive linemen to create a lane between the guard and center in short yardage situations. We just haven’t seen that from him, and its puzzling because his film from UCLA shows him manhandling elite defensive linemen in the PAC-12.
This group is starving for a leader like Myers. They hope that they found that in former Denver Broncos Tackle Chris Clark, who they acquired in a trade last week (and a steal in my opinion). At some point very early in this season I expect him to take the right tackle spot and perhaps Newton returns to his natural position of guard.
How they protect the quarterbacks and run block will literally translate to the success or failure of the Texans this season. The defense should be outstanding but this team will not win football games without the ability to score points, control field position and run the clock.
This group is not settled just yet. I think that the Texans will be heavily involved on the waiver wires to try to find some depth for this group.
Next: Offensive Skill Players