Houston Texans: Offensive line needs improvement


Well that was a letdown.

After an offseason of big free agent signings like Vince Wilfork and Rahim Moore, plus a preseason where we got an inside look at the process thanks to Hard Knocks, many people expected the Houston Texans to at least match last year’s record of 9-7.

Unfortunately, that involved winning at least once in the first two weeks of the season. And, well, they didn’t.

So what’s the problem with the Texans this year? The first thing that comes to mind is the lack of an elite quarterback, or even a good one it seems. Hoyer has been ineffective so far, and Mallett has issues with his accuracy.

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But an issue that many people might overlook is a position that is generally overlooked in general: the offensive linemen.

Not being able to field a good offensive line in this league can doom any team, no matter how good their skill players may be. You know who else has been criticized for a weak O-line? The Indianapolis Colts and the Seattle Seahawks. Two teams that had playoff hopes have now also gone 0-2.

Coincidence? I think not.

Part of the Texans good season last year was in part due to the OL giving up only 26 sacks, tied for 4th best in the league. Through two games, Houston has already given up 6 sacks, which means the Texans are on pace to give up 48, almost twice as many as last year.

And so far, without Arian Foster, the Texans have been unable to establish the run, which has plagued the offense thus far. This was perhaps best exemplified when the Texans were unable to score a touchdown from the 2 yard line in 7 attempts during the preseason game versus the San Francisco 49ers.

The problems with the Texans OL started with the poor development of Xavier Su’a-Filo. The top second round pick in 2014, the former UCLA guard was supposed to come in and take over the starting left guard job for Houston. Instead, he’s underperformed for two seasons and has missed every game so far due to injury.

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The issues with depth then surfaced again when franchise left tackle Duane Brown missed Week  2 with a hand injury. The Texans were forced to start, in order from left to right, Chris Clark, Derek Newton, Ben Jones, Brandon Brooks, and Jeff Adams. The only two players that started in their normal starting positions were Jones and Brooks, while Newton switched from RT to LG and the Texans started two inexperienced OT’s.

Depth (or lack-thereof) was again revealed when Jeff Adams went down with an injury, which we found out will be season-ending. This creates a huge problem, as Adams has been lining up as the LG in the starting offensive line. Instead, the Texans will need to get Su’a-Filo healthy again and hopefully get him to play a starting role in the O-line.

In addition to the lack of depth, both starting center Ben Jones and right guard Brandon Brooks will be free agents at the end of this season. Jones has been a solid interior lineman for years, while Brooks has quietly developed into the best lineman not named Duane Brown. If the Texans are going to have any success at all in the future, this line will need to be solidified.

So while the Texans may be able to finally find a franchise quarterback in Round 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft, look for the Texans to add some good linemen, either through the draft or free agency, to protect him.

Next: Look out for Nate Washington