With Deshaun Watson and the defense back to full health, many experts expected the Texans to be competitive and a serious contender in the AFC. But none of this preseason hype has translated onto the field, with the team losing three consecutive games to the Patriots, Titans, and Giants.
With all of this disappointment, Texans fans can only ask one question. What happened?
I think the obvious reason for such a slow start is the horrific offensive line play. This unit has allowed a whopping 32 quarterback hits and 10 sacks. On top of leading to three straight losses, these awful numbers could easily lead to franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson getting hurt in the future, making it imperative that these struggles end soon.
One of the worst players on an already horrible unit is Julie’n Davenport. Just last game, Davenport racked up four penalties, with one of them even taking back a DeAndre Hopkins touchdown. He has consistently done awful and is representative of all the problems that the offensive line currently has.
Even though Davenport is far and away playing worse than any Texans offensive lineman, he is not the only one underperforming. Only two starters, Zach Fulton and Kendall Lamm, have a Pro Football Focus grade above 60. Furthermore, the offensive line has 12 total penalties this season, an irritatingly high amount that must go down if the offense wants to take early leads instead of playing catch up the entire game.
Overall grades for #Texans O-Line (60 = average level of play)
Rankin – 48.5
Davenport – 51.3
Martin – 58.1
Kelemete – 59.9
Mancz – 59.7
Fulton – 61.1
-Best run-blocking grade: Davenport (65.2)
-Best pass-blocking grade: Mancz (86.0) / Fulton (79.3)https://t.co/dSPoYiLTyy
— PFF HOU Texans (@PFF_Texans) September 25, 2018
In sum, the offensive line has prevented the Houston Texans offense from getting any early game leads and is the main reason why the team ranks 22nd in points scored. And with entrenched starter Seantrel Henderson now gone for the season, it doesn’t seem like this poor play will end anytime soon.
On top of the horrific offensive line play, the Texans cornerbacks vastly underperforming is another factor in the slow start. Although most of the defense has been outstanding, offseason acquisition Aaron Colvin and longtime veteran Johnathan Joseph have simply not done enough to stop opposing receivers.
Colvin has a Pro Football Focus grade of 57.9 and Joseph 58.2, both mediocre grades that rank them outside the top 80 in their position. This poor play is a potential reason as to why the Texans rank 18th in points allowed and 14th in passing yards allowed.
Signed to a four-year, 34 million dollar contract, Colvin has vastly underperformed this season, and not played like the shutdown corner the Texans expected him to be. Joseph was expected to be serviceable, but he has performed even worse than that and so far had a mediocre season. But although both of them have not gotten off to a great start, I do trust in their talent and believe they’ll turn it around in the near future.
So what is the answer to all of this? How can the Texans start winning games and make a playoff run?
First, everything will revolve around the offensive line. Head coach Bill O’Brien and general manager Brian Gaine will have to make some tough decisions and probably bench or get rid of offensive lineman that aren’t playing up to par. If these two can make the right decisions, and the offensive line becomes even marginally improved, that will drastically increase the offensive production for the Houston Texans.
The Cleveland Browns have won a game before the
– Buffalo Bills
– Oakland Raiders
– Pittsburgh Steelers
– Houston Texans
– New York Giants
– Seattle Seahawks
– Arizona Cardinals
– Detroit Lions
RT if your team isn’t on the list
— Adrian Schefter (@ScheftersFacts) September 21, 2018
And if the offense starts performing better, then in turn the defense will be on the field for significantly less time, allowing them to become the elite unit they were expected to be. If defensive studs such as J.J. Watt, D.J. Reader, Jadeveon Clowney, and company get more time to rest, they will be even more dangerous than they currently are. This play could end up nullifying the poor play by Aaron Colvin and Johnathan Joseph.
Overall, the main problem is clear for the Texans, and the head honchos in Bill O’Brien and Brian Gaine will have to make some important decisions if they ever want to fix it.