The Good, Bad and Ugly are all possible for the linebacker position group. If the starters stay healthy The Ugly is off the table. Unfortunately, the injury history makes that a big “IF”. What are the impacts and the chances of each happening?
The Good – The linebackers must stay healthy and J. J. Watt must return to form early in the season. In that scenario 11-5 is likely and 12-4 possible. Likelihood – 5%
The Bad – An injury to a starting linebacker or a slow return by Watt could cause the linebackers to have less impact than initially expected. 10-6 and a trip to the playoffs is still reachable but a stretch. Likelihood – 30%.
The Ugly – It takes a series of season ending injuries to put worst case in play. It can happen, but so can a zombie apocalypse. Let’s hope the Watt surgery is not a bad omen. Likelihood – <5%
The projection for the defensive line and the linebackers are intertwined and primarily revolve around two players, J. J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. If both are healthy for most of the year the defense can carry an improving offense deep into the playoffs.