The Houston Texans are the definition of a hot-and-cold football team. When they’re at their best, Deshaun Watson and Co. are scoring points in bunches, Bill O’Brien looks like a good coach and the defense is scary.
When they’re at their worst, Watson is running for his life due to O’Brien’s poor scheme and some terrible offensive line play, and the defense can’t keep up. The conundrum makes them a must-watch team, but fans never know what they’re going to get.
This duality was put on full display in the Texans’ second-round playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Playing in the Divisional Round at Arrowhead, Houston got out to a 24-point lead and ended up losing the game by a final score of 51-31. Once the second quarter rolled around, the team turned into a pumpkin and the rest was history as the Chiefs steamrolled a defense that was uncharacteristically poor in the regular season.
In order to get over the hump with O’Brien still leading the team, a few things are going to have to happen. Here are three moves the Houston Texans must make this offseason if they want to remain a playoff team — or possibly become a contender in 2020.
3. Invest in a J.J. Watt insurance plan
J.J. Watt is one of the best players the league has seen in the past 10 years. He’s recorded five seasons with double-digit sacks, including two in which he led the NFL. On the other hand, he’s played in all 16 games just once for the Texans in the last four seasons. Having played three regular season games in 2016, five in 2017 and eight this season, it’s evident that injuries are always going to be a risk for the five-time All-Pro.
Watt will also be 31 by the time next season rolls around. If the Texans were smart, they’d either draft a young pass rusher or sign one via free agency. This would not only take some of the pressure off Watt to be such a monster on an every-down basis (even though he’s going to do that anyway), it’d also help relieve some of the pain felt by losing him to an injury. It’s a smart move, and one Houston must make soon.
2. Improve the secondary
The Texans had the NFL’s fourth-worst passing defense this season. There are several pieces set to return in 2020, but most of them are young and could benefit from another year to learn the ropes and not be thrust into the fire.
Adding at least one impact corner and one depth corner is paramount. Without both, the secondary will be toast again. Newly-appointed defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will be grateful for any extra help he can get as he attempts to rebuild a depleted unit.
1. Figure out what to do at running back
Offensive line help also could have been mentioned here but with Carlos Hyde set to hit free agency, either bringing him back or acquiring his replacement is a need. Non-negotiable. 1,000-yard rushers are always helpful to young quarterbacks.