Houston Texans: 5 Biggest X-Factors entering the 2020 season

Gareon Conley #22, Lonnie Johnson #32 (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Gareon Conley #22, Lonnie Johnson #32 (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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houston texans Carlos Hyde, Tytus Howard
Carlos Hyde, Tytus Howard of the Houston Texans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

4. Tytus Howard — Right Tackle

Despite only being available for eight out of a possible 16 games, Tytus Howard’s rookie season was a resounding success. His performance in those contests earned him a spot on the Pro Football Writer’s Association All-Rookie Team, and the team managed a 6-2 record when he was on the field. After fielding a disastrous offensive line in 2018 featuring the likes of Julie’n Davenport and Senio Kelemente, the group up front dramatically improved to a respectable level last season.

That improvement was noticeable across the line when Howard was in the lineup, as the Houston Texans were the only team in the entire league with all five linemen posting a pass-blocking grade north of 70.0. Howard was the lowest of that group with a 70.4 grade, placing 15th among qualified right tackles, but he only allowed two sacks in 303 pass-blocking snaps. Though the Texans’ offensive line is by no means elite, having stability at the position that has traditionally been the team’s downfall makes a world of a difference.

Howard’s post-injury replacement, Roderick Johnson, is technically a higher graded overall player because of his run-blocking prowess, but the team is expected to integrate a much more pass-happy offensive game plan this season. Having Howard and his 6’5, 322-pound frame available all season would be a tremendous benefit for Deshaun Watson.