It all came apart for Bill O’Brien’s club in 2017. So what will it take for the Houston Texans to win the AFC South this upcoming season?
It’s not like the Houston Texans haven’t had any experience when it comes to one-season turnarounds. You will recall that this club fell hard in 2013 after winning a pair of AFC South titles – including a 12-4 mark in ’12. After winning their first two games the following year, the club dropped its remaining 14 contests.
In 2014, head coach new head coach Bill O’Brien inherited a 2-14 squad and the team turn things around, finishing 9-7 in his debut season. That would be followed by two more 9-7 showing, this time resulting in a pair of division titles. But it all came apart last season when the team just couldn’t overcome the numerous injuries to some of its biggest names. Performers such as defensive end J.J. Watt, outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and rookie sensation Deshaun Watson spent the majority of year on injured reserve.
So will they call it a comeback this upcoming season when it comes to this club? It was a Texans’ team that was manhandled twice this past season by the eventual AFC South champion Jacksonville Jaguars. So how can the Texans get back on track and win a fifth AFC South title in eight years? Here are three big factors that must come into play to make this a reality.
3. Protect QB Deshaun Watson
There were two areas that the Houston Texans addressed heavily this offseason – both in free agency and the draft. One was the secondary (more on that later) and the other was the offensive line. That group had its lunch handed to them in Week 1 at home against the Jaguars this past season. Starting quarterback Tom Savage and eventual replacement DeShaun Watson were sacked a combined 10 times in that contest.
When it was all said and done, only the Indianapolis Colts (56) allowed more quarterback traps than Bill O’Brien’s Club (54). In free agency, the club signed tackle Seantrel Henderson (Buffalo Bills) and guards Zach Fulton (Kansas City Chiefs) and Senio Kelemete (New Orleans Saints). The Texans also use the third round pick on Mississippi State tackle Martinas Rankin.
Houston has a reliable stable of running backs at its disposal – including veterans Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue, as well as youngsters D’Onta Foreman and Tyler Ervin. But the offensive front must perform a lot better than it did a year ago as injuries and inconsistency turned this into a huge problem area.