Offseason moves and coaching upgrades by division rivals combined with injury concerns should temper expectations for the Houston Texans moving forward.
The Houston Texans’ division will be dramatically improved over last year. And, considering that two teams (Jacksonville and Tennessee) are already playoff caliber teams, the Texans could be losing ground. Here are the reasons I am concerned:
In a previous post I speculated the risk that our defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel could land within the division. Unfortunately that prediction came to pass as Vrabel is now head coach of the Titans. The concern? Vrabel knows the Texans defense in and out and will no doubt play to his advantage when they play the Texans twice a year.
Hot Los Angeles Rams Offensive Coordinator Matt Lafleur has been named the offensive coordinator of the Titans. We saw what he did with quarterback Jared Goff last year. I anticipate he will turn this rather boring Titans offense into a dynamic one.
Frank Reich, the former offensive coordinator of the Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles, is the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Whether it will be Andrew Luck or Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, Reich has already stated that the Colts will play up tempo and use more no huddle offense. Not the same old Colts.
The Jacksonville Jaguars went to the AFC Championship Game last year. Even with Blake Bortles at quarterback they played better than anyone expected. No one denies the legitimacy of their defense. Now imagine the Jaguars upgrade the quarterback position. Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, A.J. McCarron would all be instant upgrades over Bortles and may be the missing piece that takes this team over the top.
Now many will say I am speculating that the division rivals are getting better and argue that the Texans will also be getting better. I agree with you to a certain extent. Head coach Bill O’Brien is back with most of the staff intact except for Vrabel. We have a myriad of stars on our squad. However, I have learned through experience that we have to separate our emotions of being a fan from our objective analysis. I have fallen into the trap over and over myself. To that end, Houston Texans fans need to mindful of the facts:
The facts are, as I stated in the past, that the best coached teams in the league win. I am not so sure that the Houston Texans have that much of an edge any longer.
The facts are that teams now have several games of tape on our quarterback Deshaun Watson. As they did with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott last year, defenses adjust.
The facts are that injuries are a concern. I have written before about players having predisposition to injuries where I referenced an article from The Atlantic which discusses the genetics of being injury prone. I stated “The injury to Watson was not his first ACL tear.” As a fan, I worry that he may never play for a prolonged period of time.
Running back D’Onta Foreman’s injury. The fact is that it is usually the second year after an achilles tear when a player really gets back to form.
Wide receiver Will Fuller looked prolific at times. But again, the facts are that between concussions and soft tissue injuries, will he ever last a full season.
All the evidence brings me pause. My expectations for the Texans moving forward have been tempered.