After a rollercoaster of an offseason, the Houston Texans offense is primed for more success than the media/public are giving us. After ranking 14th in the NFL in points per game with 23.6 why would BOB trade our best offensive weapon? Losing DeAndre Hopkins certainly looks like a loss on paper, and while I would love for him to still be on the team, he’s not, and we have to move on. Losing him shouldn’t stop you from getting excited about the WRs we do have on the team. Those WRs were brought in to help accentuate Deshaun Watson’s best talents. The WRs, the OL and even the RBs and TEs surrounding Watson is the best cast of sidekicks he’s ever had. On paper, we’ve got the looks of an elite offense and this article will explain how they can all work together to form a top 3 unit in the NFL. I want to ask you a question, when you look back at the last 5 or 6 years of Texans history, what were the main reasons for our lack of offensive success? For me it was atrocious Quarterback play, garbage Offensive Linemen, and a lack of depth from our weapons. Fast forward to 2020 and all three of those issues have been solved. Let’s look at how that’s going to help us.
Why the Houston Texans Offense will be Top 3 in the NFL
Deshaun MF Watson
Can you ever really talk about Deshaun Watson enough? I cant. He’s one of a kind, a generational talent. Let’s start with the on the field stuff; Deshaun thrives with the deep ball. While his 3,852 passing yards (13th in NFL) won't blow you away, volume stats aren’t a good measure of talent. The Texans, scared of their OL ruining Deshaun’s career, looked to focus on the quick passing game. Getting the ball out quickly certainly helps reduce sacks, but they also reduce your yards per attempt, attacking the underneath areas of a defense. Thus, resulting in “mediocre” passing totals.
This isn’t who Deshaun is, that’s not his game. He loves the big play, he loves to scramble in and out of the pocket, tossing defenders around and then launching a bomb downfield for six. That’s who Deshaun Watson is, and he’s the 2nd best deep ball QB in the league as a result. That feat is actually crazy to think about when he hasn’t had his best deep threat (Will give him a robotic hamstring already Fuller) available to him majority of the time. Throwing to D Hop is nice, but is a cast of Demaryius Thomas, Bruce Ellington, Keke Coutee, Braxton Miller and more, really threatening to take the top off a defense? And yet he still got the job done. He is always able to do more, with less. Elevating the talent around him, while making mind boggling plays.
We’ll dive into this aspect of the deep ball later in the article, but what also makes Deshaun so great is his off script ability. You cant practice getting kicked in the eye and throwing a TD. You can’t practice getting hit by two defenders and bouncing off of them like nothing happened. You can’t practice being Deshaun Watson, only one man is capable of doing that. It’s those clutch, mind blowing plays that make him so special. Add in his elite ball placement, touch on throws, and improving decision making and we’ve got a hell of a QB.
Above everything he does on the field, the reason I have so much confidence in him is because of who he is off the field. A true leader and amazing man. His drive and determination to be the best is what will have him holding trophy after trophy throughout his career. He motivates everyone around him to be the best version of themselves and spawns greatness. His leadership qualities and his clutch gene is what will take our offense to the next level. We’ve never had the luxury of a franchise QB (no not even Schaub), but we’ve finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel that was QB purgatory. Deshaun is our savior and he will lead this offense to unprecedented heights.
What's that? A competent Offensive Line?
After QB, the next biggest issue holding back the Texans offense was undoubtedly the OL. Gone are the days of Chris Clark and Breno Giacommini manning the edges. XSF and Jeff Allen in the interior. We tried to bring in new faces like Senio Kelemete, Seantrel Henderson and Matt Kahlil, all failed. But we’ve finally found 5 OL worth investing in. Laremy Tunsil is a top 5 offensive tackle in the league, the best LT in my opinion. The false starts will go away and regress to his mean, as he gets comfortable in the offense. He even said himself he didn’t know the playbook, and he still played THAT WELL?! Having a lockdown blindside protector will only make Watson more comfortable to stand in the pocket, and wait for his reads to get open, knowing he can trust the guys protecting him. I made a video breaking down Tunsil, which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfekZFzXV_0
Max Scharping is on the trajectory to be one of the brightest young stars at the LG position. His rookie season blew me away, and the instant chemistry he showed with Tunsil should only improve as the two spend more time together. Video breaking down Scharping here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR4op9yTU_Q
Nick Martin was one of the positive surprises of the 2019 season, having undoubtedly his best season ever. He’s the OL that has the most on his plate, and needs to keep up his play to warrant that extension. Video breaking down Martin here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyW7qezCz7s
Zach Fulton is someone im not as high on as most, but every OL has a weak link, and we could do a whole lot worse than Fulton as our weak link. Finally, Tytus Howard, I tend to forget about Howard but as our most recent 1st round pick, expectations are high for him. He certainly has the potential to form the top OT tackle duo in the NFL with Tunsil. He’s got some things to work on, but he was supposed to take time to develop. In his stint before he got injured, he started to really figure things out, and was a breath of fresh air for the RT position had been a revolving door for years. His impact is felt more when we have to play his replacements, that was when I really felt like, damn our RT SUCKS. So while he may never jump off the screen, his impact will certainly be felt. Video on Tytus here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFe_AuwMkgY
It’s crazy the turnaround our OL has made, and I’m always a proponent of building the trenches. We’ve finally found our franchise QB, and we’ve made the moves necessary to protect him. Offenses often seem to forget the importance of a strong OL. They focus on the skill positions, QB, WR, RB and call it a day. But none of those weapons can thrive if the battle in the trenches are lost. This OL is young and will only get better, but we finally have five guys we cant trust to keep our QB upright, and pave lanes in the running game.
Weapons on weapons on weapons
The last part of the offense that has plagued us over the years is a lack of depth. After DeAndre Hopkins, there was no one trustworthy. As much as I loved Braxton Miller out of OSU, he fell flat on his face in the NFL. You won’t find someone higher on Jaelen Strong, but he couldn’t be depended on either. Countless injuries to Will Fuller and Keke Coutee made it impossible to get any sort of continuity and rhythm for the offense. BOB has noticed that, and can no longer go the route of one star WR1, and no one else.
Instead, we are FOUR deep at WR. Those four are all above average, and many of them really good at what they do. Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills and Randall Cobb. If one of them goes down, we are fine. If two of them go down, we are even fine. That’s a luxury we’ve never had before. It’s also important to look at the skill sets of who we brought in. Going into the offseason I wanted the Texans to operate like Will Fuller wasn’t even on the team. They did just that by adding Brandin Cooks, a premier deep threat. The offense looks night and day when Watson has at least one reliable deep threat. And as much as I want Fuller to be healthy, we can’t keep betting on that. So if Fuller goes down, we wont have to change the offense and go back to that quick pass offense. We can play to Watson’s strength as a deep ball thrower, and watch as Cooks burns CBs left and right. Cooks is also an underrated route runner, who we can trust to get open and move the sticks. I made a video breaking down his game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QUXiEuURng
I don’t feel the need to talk about Fuller, we know the video game like numbers he and Watson put up. As long as that dude is healthy, he will produce like a top 10 WR in the NFL, easily.
Next is Kenny Stills. At first, I thought Stills would be WR4, behind Cobb, because of the contract we gave him. But after hearing some things, Kenny Stills and Deshaun Watson have become best friends. Stills is Watson’s go to guy and the two have been training every day together. Added right before the start of last season, Stills didn’t get the chance to form a solid chemistry with Deshaun. That was apparent on the film, as the two had tons of opportunities that they could’ve connected on, with a better throw. But everything should click for those two this season. Stills is such an underrated WR, a true jack of all trades, master of none. He can do literally anything the offense asks of him. From being a deep threat, a reliable route runner, play outside or in the slot, even take jet sweeps from time to time. You ask it, and he’ll do it. I wrote about Kenny’s game here: https://texansunfiltered.com/articles/texans-kenny-stills-is-the-most-underrated-wr-in-the-nfl and broke him down in a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQPadSM8xGU
Next is Randall Cobb, and he was the addition I was most weary about. I didn’t like the price tag, im still not in love with it. But his Dallas tape was a pleasant surprise. They used him as more than just your typical slot WR who runs slants and drags over the middle of the field. They asked him to run plenty of vertical routes, as well as posts and corners. His 15.1 YPR was the highest of his career and he looks like he hasn’t lost a step. He’s got serious juice and can add more big play ability to the team. Watson thrives on throws over the middle, and so it will be interesting to see how the Texans use Cobb. Watson would love to find Nuk open on slants, and while Cobb can do that too, we have the luxury of having him make big plays as well. Video on Cobb here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiJd7DS-niM
All our WRs are versatile, can run routes and make big time plays. Going 4 deep is a serious luxury, and that depth will certainly be beneficial throughout the season. Watson has his pick of the crop, and will no longer have to key in on Nuk, missing other open targets. He can read the field more freely, and just find the open man. Defenses will find it much tougher to gameplan for an offense that has 4 legit threats at WR, not just 1. In addition to that, you have to consider the RBs and TEs on the field as well. David and Duke Johnson will feast underneath if you want to take away the deep ball from Fuller and Cooks. Here's a video on David Johnson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ps7Dw47FZM
Go ahead, play 2 high safeties all game, we can nickel and dime with Stills, Cobb and the Johnsons underneath. Even hitting Fells or Akins if we want to run our effective 2 TE sets. The options are limitless, the weapons are diverse, the team is all there on paper. The last thing to do is to put it all together. BOB has finally given away the reins to playcalling on offense. Protégé Tim Kelly is calling the shots and the players love him so far. He has been talking with them, including what they like to do, into the offense. He’s going to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable with their role. I’m excited to see what he can do, because the consistency of the offense was horrible last year. Now that BOB has less on his plate, the hope is that we will be the version of the Texans that dismantled the Pats #1 defense. Not the one that fell flat against the Panthers, Broncos and Ravens. Remember the Texans offense that went up 24-0 on the SB champs? That’s the goal, that’s the dream, and that should be the reality for next season.