The Houston Texans had two main problems all season, their offensive line and their cornerbacks. As a whole, the Texans were one of the worst passing defenses in football, allowing a 99.5 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks 29th in football. On top of that, the Texans also ranked 24th in passing yards allowed (3,799) and 29th in passing touchdowns allowed (30). Since the 2017 regular season is over, it is time to look at just how bad the Texans cornerbacks truly were.
Jonathan Joseph – C
Jonathan Joseph was drafted 24th overall in the 2006 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, and would play for the black and orange for five seasons. Over this time he amassed 14 interceptions, three of them for touchdowns, and 220 tackles. After the 2010 season, Joseph signed with the Texans and never looked back. During his seven seasons with the Texans, Joseph has been a consistent force in the secondary: amassing 14 more interceptions, three of those also going for touchdowns, and 329 tackles. While Joseph’s has had many successful seasons for the Texans, this one was a dud. Joseph was ranked the 66th best corner in football, with a pedestrian 75.7 grade on Pro Football Focus, and he also had the lowest tackle total of his entire career in a season where he played more than ten games. Despite having a mediocre 2017 and being 33 years old, Joseph is still the best cornerback the Texans have. Since he’s about to hit free agency this offseason, it is imperative, and the loyal course of action, to offer Joseph a contract extension. Even though 2017 was one of the worst seasons of Joseph’s career, it was still an average one, and thus he garners a “C” grade.
Kareem Jackson – D
If Joseph had an average season, than why did the Houston Texans have such an awful pass defense. That answer can be attributed to a combination of Kevin Johnson and Kareem Jackson. Jackson was drafted by the Texans with the 20th overall pick in the 2010, one year before they’d acquire Jonathan Joseph. The Alabama product has had 14 interceptions, three of them for touchdowns (sensing a pattern here), and garnered 398 tackles. Although he’s never been a good corner, he definitely took a step back in terms of production this season, being ranked as the 95th corner in the NFL with an abysmal 52.2 grade on Pro Football Focus. Even with all his struggles, Jackson is one of the best run-stopping corners in football, which is why he still started 14 games this season. But on the passing end, Jackson has been routinely burned for big plays. So despite being a terrific run-stopper, Jackson’s awful pass coverage brings him from an “C” grade to a “D”.
Kevin Johnson – F
Kevin Johnson somehow was an even worse pass defender than Kareem Jackson in the 2017 season. Drafted 16th overall out of Wake Forest in the 2015 NFL Draft, Kevin Johnson has been a tremendous disappointment. Over the past two seasons, Johnson has only started in seven games, and in those games has no interceptions and a measly 53 tackles. Johnson’s struggles this season, in both pass and run defense, is highlighted by the fact that he had one of the worst seasons out of any qualified corner. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson had a 32.o grade that ranks him as the 122nd corner in football. This overall terrible season for Kevin Johnson leads to him receiving the worst grade possible: an “F”.
Overall Grade – D-
With an average player like Jonathan Joseph, coupled with awful pass defenders like Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson, the Texans cornerbacks almost receive a failing grade. Hopefully the Texans can resign Joseph, and add another corner in free agency to replace Kareem Jackson, so that the Texans pass defense can get back to what it once was.
What puts salt into the wound for the Texans is the fact that they let A.J. Bouye leave for the Jacksonville Jaguars over the 2017 offseason. Bouye was a dominant force for the Texans in 2016, and became an even greater player for the Jags, ranked as the eighth best corner in football this 2017 season by Pro Football Focus. While Bouye is currently competing in an AFC Championship game against the Patriots, the Texans will have to watch the game on the television after a 4-12 record that kept them out of playoffs. If the Texans had kept Bouye, he could’ve single handedly made this cornerback group one of the best in football. Instead, the Texans let him walk and will have to face the consequences for the foreseeable future.