A benchmark I used to predict a Texans 10-6 regular season record was that the secondary would play as well as it did in the second half of 2015. That seems a reasonable assumption as all the starters are back and the depth is improved. With the same players on the field, how can the secondary get better?
They have one more year in the defensive system. Players know each other better, communication is better, players can player faster because their reactions are now more reflex than conscience thought.
At corner Kevin Johnson should make the big performance leap that typically occurs between year 1 and year 2. A. J. Bouye looked greatly improved in OTAs and minicamp. Veteran Terrance Mitchell adds to the mix. The irrepressible Charles James is more of a special teams asset, but he adds depth. Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson are solid starters being pushed by Bouye, possibly Mitchell and definitely Johnson.
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At safety, converted cornerback Andre Hal now has a year of experience as a starter. Quintin Demps is the incumbent at the other safety, but he will have to play even better than in 2015 to hold his job. The coaches love the potential of Lonnie Ballentine if he can stay healthy and rookie K. J. Dillon is projected to start by many. Veterans Eddie Pleasant, Kurtis Drummond and former Jet Antonio Allen are providing competition that makes everyone better.
That is the formula that could result in The Good, better than expected performance from the secondary. Three solid corners with improving depth, a rapidly improving safety in his second year at the position and fierce competition for the other safety spot. Couple that with a potentially improved pass rush from the front seven and the secondary could have a big year.
Next: The Bad