Bobby Slowik must utilize Nico Collins and Noah Brown to jumpstart Texans offense for a playoff berth

Denver Broncos v Houston Texans
Denver Broncos v Houston Texans / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

The Houston Texans find themselves in the midst of an offensive struggle during a crucial part of the NFL season. Playoff implications are on the line, leaving the franchise with little room for error. A significant change in quarterback position has caused a decline in offensive production. A concussion sidelined C.J. Stroud during the last two weeks. Davis Mills and Case Keenum are the acting quarterbacks, but is struggling to jump-start the offense. As the team navigates through the remaining weeks of the campaign, the second-string gunslingers are desperate for success on the gridiron. The Houston Texans need consecutive wins to secure a playoff berth. The road to the playoffs starts with challenging the wide receiver core.

Outstanding offensive performances helped DeMeco Ryans' squad take the league by storm at the beginning of the season. Explosions against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers helped Houston establish themselves in the AFC Standings. Tank Dell became Stroud’s favorite target early in the campaign. He recorded 47 receptions and seven touchdowns before a season-ending leg surgery on his fractured fibula in Week 13. His absence was hard to overcome in the following week against the Jets. Nico Collins (1,022) and Noah Brown (559) became reliable targets for the developing quarterback but were non-existent in Weak 13. Houston struggled to put points on the scoreboard - resulting in a 30-6 blowout.

Collateral damage from an embarrassing loss to the Jets bore additional issues for Bobby Slowik’s offense. C.J. Stroud experienced a concussion and has yet to return to the gridiron. Davis Mills (47.5) and Case Keenum (44.4) have had opportunities to take over, but have yet to recreate magic. The veteran quarterbacks are 1-1 in Stroud’s absence and need help from their peers to succeed until the rookie makes his comeback.

The Texans can clinch a playoff berth despite their quarterbacks’ absence. They are one game behind the Indianapolis Colts with two games remaining on the schedule. Upcoming match-ups against divisional opponents will determine if Ryans’ squad is worthy of extending the campaign. Nico Collins must play a pivotal role in Slowik’s scheme to accomplish this task. He leads his teammates core in receiving yards (1,022) and offensive grading (87.5).

Nico Collins and Noah Brown must become more involved in the offense

A combination of injuries and inconsistency has hindered his ability to emerge as a reliable target for the latest quarterback. A shortage of receptions (5) and yards (31) from Collins has limited the diversity of the passing attack, allowing opposing defenses to key in on other options without fear of significant repercussions from the rookie receiver.

Secondary options are volatile for backup quarterbacks. Noah Brown has reaped the benefits of limited defensive attention. He’s become a key piece in the Texans' receiving corps during the season. Brown ranks first in yards per reception (17.5). His most recent performances have failed to meet expectations. Whether it be struggling to create separation from defenders or struggling to secure critical catches, Brown's lack of production has added another layer to the offensive challenge. He’s recorded 11 receptions since Stroud’s injury and maintains a 68.25 offensive grade. Without a consistent threat from the receiving end, the Texans' offense becomes one-dimensional and predictable, making it easier for opponents to devise defensive schemes to stifle their progress.

The shortage of offensive output from Collins and Brown has broader implications beyond their individual statistics. It directly impacts the overall efficiency of Houston's offense, making it easier for opposing defenses to focus on star players or exploit weaknesses in other areas. A well-rounded offense requires a diverse set of weapons, and the underperformance of these key receivers has left the Texans scrambling to find alternative solutions.

Addressing this shortage is crucial for playoff ambitions. As they compete for playoff contention, a dynamic and productive offense is paramount. The coaching staff must work to get Collins and Brown more involved in the game plan, whether through creative play-calling, targeted routes, or additional practice to improve chemistry with the quarterback. Developing a reliable rapport between these receivers and the signal-caller is essential to unlocking their full potential and revitalizing the stagnant aspects of the passing game.

The shortage in offensive production from Nico Collins and Noah Brown stands as a pressing concern for the Houston Texans. As the team looks to extend the campaign, they must address these issues. By elevating the performance of these receivers, the Texans can inject much-needed diversity and potency into their offensive scheme, providing a more formidable challenge for opposing defenses and reigniting their playoff aspirations.

Alls statistics courtesy of