The Texans typically aren’t known for their safeties, but this year they were one of the few stable units on a team that was ravaged by injuries. Andre Hal has been known for his charitable efforts in Houston, and has been a force for the Texans since 2014, while Marcus Gilchrist has only been on the Texans for just the 2017 season. While they aren’t the best safety duo in the league, Hal and Gilchrist were both solid safeties, and now that the season is over, it is time to examine their performances.
Andre Hal – Free Safety – B-
Andre Hal was a seventh-round draft pick out of Vanderbilt in 2014, and has made a massive return on investment. In three seasons as the starting free safety, Hal has shown his playmaking ability by garnering nine interceptions and 104 tackles, which is not too shabby for his position. Just this season, Hal had three interceptions and two forced fumbles, both career highs. This career year proved he was deserving of the three-year, 15 million dollar contract extension he received last offseason. While he did make a lot of plays, Hal was ranked as the 43rd safety in football, with an average 78.5 rating on Pro Football Focus. Despite this average rating, Hal was still able to play all 16 regular season games, which is something not many players were able to do during an injury plagued season for the Houston Texans. This durability was even more important for Hal when you consider that he’d never started more than 11 games in a season. Hopefully Hal can continue to stay on the field and shore up the free safety position for the Texans in the years to come. Because Hal was an average/durable safety who occasionally showcased his ability as a playmaker, he deserved a “B-” grade.
Marcus Gilchrist – Strong Safety – C
A seven-year pro out of Clemson, Gilchrist has been somewhat of a journeyman; playing for the San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, and now the Houston Texans. And it appears as if Gilchrist will have to pack his bags again, because he is about to become a free agent, and the Texans have no desire to resign him (or shouldn’t). The reason the Texans most likely won’t resign Gilchrist is because he was a below average safety who can be replaced through the draft. The irony of the situation is that Gilchrist actually joined the Texans because of that exact same reason. In 2017, the Jets let Gilchrist hit free agency and drafted Jamal Adams with the sixth overall pick. In 2018, the Texans will most likely let Gilchrist hit free agency once again and draft a safety like Jordan Whitehead. Gilchrist is the 51st ranked safety in football, and only had 45 tackles as a strong safety. These marks earn the designation as a below average safety who must be replaced. A “C” grade may be slightly generous.
Overall – C+
The combination of Andre Hal and Marcus Gilchrist is an underwhelming one, but what saves them from a failing grade is the fact that they were average safeties who could stay healthy. While they aren’t a strength for the Texans, they aren’t a glaring weakness like the cornerbacks or offensive lineman.
Since it looks like Hal is only improving his playmaking abilities, and Gilchrist is being shown the door to leave room for a young and promising replacement in the draft, the Texans safety duo is one to be optimistic about for the future.