It’s not so much that the Houston Texans got worse. Rather, within this offseason, the AFC South has evolved into likely the most competitive division in the league. It’s only natural then for the winner of the division in 2018 to regress for 2019. With a healthy Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts were able to defeat the Texans 21-7 in the wild card game. The Tennessee Titans quietly set themselves up for a great 2019 season. The Jacksonville Jaguars already had one the league’s best defenses. Not only does their defense project to be fantastic this season, they should have much better quarterback play with Nick Foles than they did with Blake Bortles. With all of that said, the Texans did make their fair share of mistakes this offseason.
Teams Who Will Regress 2019: Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson can be a truly great quarterback. DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee make up one of the best wide receiver trios in the league when healthy. But Watson cannot thrive and get the ball to his receivers when he is sacked 62 times during the season. Moreover, a poor offensive line leads to a poor run game. This allows defenses to be less honest in their protection.
The Texans did little in free agency to help their offensive line. They signed tackle Matt Kalil to make up for the loss of Kendall Lamm. But Kalil was on IR for the whole 2018 season and looks to be struggling with injuries once again. It’s fairly obvious that the Texans have little faith in him as they decided to draft two offensive tackles in the first two rounds. This was in theory a great move; everyone expected the Texans to draft two offensive linemen early. However, they decided to draft Tytus Howard and Max Scharping. Both picks have potential to be great eventually, but both are widely considered projects. Despite being early picks, the team has them pegged as fourth on the depth chart at left and right tackle, respectively.
The Texans front seven is among the best in football. They did well to keep Jadeveon Clowney around with the franchise tag. There is a bit of a stir around Clowney not being happy with the Texans’ front office for designating him as a linebacker instead of a defensive end. Still, he is supposed to be back to camp before the end of August and should play the full season.
The secondary is more concerning. The Texans lost Kareem Jackson, their number one cornerback in 2018, to free agency. Jackson was a top 10 corner last season. His presence will be difficult to replace. The Texans signed Bradley Roby and drafted Lonnie Johnson to potentially make up for the loss of Jackson. This was not a one for one tradeoff. Roby has played as a number three corner all but one season of his career. Last season, when tasked to be the number two corner for the Broncos, Roby allowed a passer rating of 117.3 when targeted. So far this offseason, the biggest story Lonnie Johnson has produced is being kicked out of joint practice with the Green Bay Packers. Like Howard and Scharping, Johnson was another pick considered to be a project.
Last Word on the Texans
The Texans have the fourth highest strength of schedule of any team this season. In free agency, the Texans lost their number one cornerback, Kareem Jackson, and struggled to find an apt replacement. The biggest problem for the Texans last season was their offensive line. Despite having the cap space to make bigger moves, the Texans chose to do little to bolster their offensive line in free agency and made questionable selections during the draft as well. Overall, the Texans may not be that different a team this season, but the league around them has improved.
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