Every team has its “Fall From Grace” moment. Where a few years of good play and perennial playoff appearances, unfortunately, come to a halt. However, typically a team’s “Fall From Grace” moment isn’t supposed to happen as abruptly as the Texans did. Just a mere two seasons ago, the Texans were battling the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round Game in which the Texans, led by a nucleus of DeShaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and JJ Watt, had a 24-0 lead in the second quarter. The Chiefs would then proceed to outscore the Texans 51-7 throughout the rest of the game. The Texans would then trade away Hopkins for practically a bag of Skittles and would soon enter a rebuild.
The 2020 NFL Season was a rough one, to say the least, for the Texans. They finished the season with the 3rd worst record in the NFL. Unfortunately, they did not have the #3 pick in the draft due to the Laremy Tunsil trade with the Miami Dolphins. Their superstar QB DeShaun Watson demanded a trade and was under sexual assault allegations to make matters even worse. With the status of their superstar QB up in the air, the Texans entered the offseason full of uncertainty, in which the Texans would use their first draft pick (in the third round) on Stanford QB Davis Mills. Along with this, they also signed veteran QB Tyrod Taylor. Just two years after having a 24 point lead on the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Texans have spiraled out of control, including new front office changes, a new head coach, and disgruntled star players.
Houston Texans Offense
Offense Grade: 71.74 (32nd)
Offensive Coaching: 75 (24th)
There isn’t a whole lot to be excited about with this Houston Texans squad, especially offensively. However, they do rank 24th in the NFL in offensive coaching, which is large in part due to Pep Hamilton and Tim Kelly. Hamilton has turned into a QB guru of sorts. He was key to the development of Andrew Luck at Stanford and his first few years in Indianapolis. While also playing a huge factor in Justin Herbert’s record-breaking rookie season. The Texans are hoping that Hamilton can replicate his past performances and help develop Davis Mills.
Quarterback Rank: #32 (36% Offense)
With all the uncertainty surrounding DeShaun Watson, we did not count him as a part of this evaluation. With that being said, this Texans quarterback room is very easily the worst in the NFL. The projected starting QB right now is probably Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is fine and won’t lose you a game in terms of his mistakes, but he definitely won’t win you a game either. As mentioned in the podcast version of this article, I’d advise the Texans to do something similar to what the Bengals did in 2019. This was to play Tyrod Taylor throughout most of the season and then insert Davis Mills around week 11 or so to see what you have in him before you draft another QB.
The best-case scenario for the Texans quarterback room is that the Texans see what they have in Davis Mills, and he shows enough flashes of potential to where they can use their projected top 5 picks to either revamp this offensive line or give him some weapons for the year two and potentially beyond.
Running Back Rank: #22 (5% Offense)
The Texans don’t have a true three-down back on the roster in terms of the running back room. However, in terms of pure running back rooms, the Texans have a pretty solid room. They have Phillip Lindsay, who can be used in the receiving game when you get him in space as he thrives when using his straight-line speed. You have David Johnson, who’s arguably the closest this team has to a 3rd down back. They also brought in Mark Ingram to help split carries and help in goalline situations, in my opinion. The biggest positive is that if healthy, none of these guys will be forced to be the feature back, and they could thrive as a running back by committee style of approach.
Receiving Rank: #31 (17% Offense)
Although the Texans rank out #31 before starting, I think they could outplay this ranking. This is all depending on rookie WR Nico Collins. Outside of Collins, you have a solid above-average WR in Brandin Cooks, a career journeyman. Cooks is a solid vertical deep threat and in the short-intermediate game as well. They also have Randall Cobb to operate from the slot. However, due to age and injuries is way past his prime. Cobb also doesn’t have the benefit of playing with Aaron Rodgers. Outside of that, the Texans also have Keke Coutee, who was more of their playmaker WR last season. They would often scheme up creative touches for Coutee, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his limited production would increase this season to make things easier for Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills.
Offensive Line Rank: #24 (19% Offense)
The Texans will likely not meet the expectations of being the #24 ranked offensive line in the league. However, when you have a top 10 left tackle in Laremy Tunsil, which is the most important position on the offensive line, it helps your ranking for sure. If the Texans hope to improve this ranking, it will depend on the development of Tytus Howard and Max Scharping. Howard showed some flashes of development towards the end of the season last year, and it will be key that his development continues in the right direction. Outside of Scharping and Howard, the Texans at least have replacement-level players at Center and Right guard, which helps this ranking. Marcus Cannon, who has shown some age recently, should perform well at Right Guard. While you are hoping that Justin Britt can return to his Seattle form, in which he was one of the best-run blockers in the NFL.
Houston Texans Defense
Defense Grade: 69.42 (32nd)
Defensive Coaching: 30th
There is an apparent lack of optimism to talk about with this Texans defense. Arguably the Texans’ best player defensively in Justin Reid is reportedly on the trade block. Outside of Justin Reid, your best player defensively is an above-average linebacker in Zach Cunningham. The Texans rank dead last in run defense and pass rush. This is due to being tormented by Derrick Henry and seemingly every rushing attack last season. When you combine this with lackluster coaching with Lovie Smith, you find yourself the worst defense in the league by a large margin.