Wrap-up -The Good – In this scenario the Texans go 11-5 and play in the AFC championship Game. That happens only if the team is relatively healthy throughout the season. Beyond good health here is what it takes to make Texans history.
The defense must win third down, create turnovers, improve its red zone performance, and cut the number of big plays allowed. That will reduce pressure on the young offense and give them more opportunities, better field position and an occasional short field.
To get the required defensive performance Watt must return to form quickly, opposite Watt a defensive end must emerge and Jadeveon Clowney must have the dominating season he predicts. If Watt and Clowney produce, an end emerges and the remaining starters at least match their 2015 performances the Texans will field a dominating defense that controls football games.
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A dominating defense will allow time for the young offense to come together under Brock Osweiler. Osweiler must provide strong leadership and within a few games be the franchise quarterback the Texans expect. For Osweiler to excel Duane Brown must return to form to protect Osweiler’s blind side and the rest of the line must limit penetration and create running lanes.
The young receivers must meet expectations and improve steadily to relieve pressure on DeAndre Hopkins. Lamar Miller and Tyler Ervin don’t have to exceed expectations, but they must display the running and pass catching skills expected of them to keep defenses off-balance. The offense must avoid turnovers and hold the ball long enough to rest the defense.
In other words, the Texans need some exceptional performances from key players and for almost everything else to go right on both sides of the ball. The good news is that every player mentioned has the potential to make that happen and most position groups have enough depth to deal with routine injuries. Many teams can’t say that.
If Watt recovers more slowly, which I think is probable, 11-5 is off the table, but the Texans can still make the playoffs. Regardless of the regular season record, The Good is a trip to the AFC Championship game. Barring injuries the Texans should be rolling by playoff time. The hard part is getting there.
The Super Bowl? Any team that plays for the conference championship has a chance, but I don’t have a category called “The Unbelievable”. I’ll create one if the bandwagon really gets rolling.
Next: The Bad