The Houston Texans had a very favorable special teams ranking in 2019 — and they took steps to improve it further by adding Daren Bates.
Any way you slice it, the Houston Texans did exceedingly well in their special teams play last season.
Lineups.com had them tied with the New York Jets for the fourth-best overall ranking in the league in 2019, behind only the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, and New Orleans Saints.
Football Outsiders had a similar outlook on the Texans, pegging them at No. 5 overall below those same four teams (albeit in a different order).
The point? For a team that got most of its attention in 2019 due to a potent but inconsistent offense and an underwhelming defense, it might actually have been Houston’s third phase of the game — its special teams unit — that was the strongest and most consistent overall from wire-to-wire.
Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Daren Bates switching divisional allegiance
Now, according to Sports Illustrated’s Anthony Wood, the Texans have agreed to sign special teams standout Daren Bates.
Bates not only helps the rich get richer on special teams — he also provides excellent depth at inside linebacker behind starters Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney.
A former undrafted free agent out of Auburn, Bates spent the first three seasons of his professional career with the St. Louis Rams. He then joined the Oakland Raiders for one season in 2016.
Most recently, Bates was a member of the Tennessee Titans from 2017-2019. Presumably, he might be able to bring some inside information from one of Houston’s most bitter divisional rivals after having played three seasons in Nashville.
Bates is also a former team captain, both with the Titans and the Rams. He is as exceptional of a leader and locker room presence as he is a talent on the field.
Look for Bates to make an immediate impact — if not on the Houston Texans defense, then decidedly on the team’s special teams unit this upcoming season.
He should indeed help this group climb even further up the rankings in 2020 if all goes well for both sides.