The well oiled Texans
As a Colts fan I shouldn’t really like any other rival in the division, but I do. I like the Texans defense and though I think the AFC South 2015 champions won because they had no real competition, they had the best defense and as we know from last season, defenses win championships. They are a different team from the one that finished top of the rubbish pile that was the AFC South last year. There were few shining stars on offence last year, afterall they finished 21st in points scored but on defense, with JJ Watt (who else?) leading the way, they were tied 7th allowing only 19.6 (20 points really) per game. The defense were stars and kept them in games and won them games. Along with DeAndre Hopkins they are the only positives from last year. So what about this year? The Texans made several big moves, with some big contracts in the off-season,can the offense now make the most of the positions that game winning defense puts them in.
I am going to start with the offense, despite loving the Texans defense. It was the offense that needed all the attention. The one thing they didn’t necessarily need was a wide receiver but picking up Will Fuller as a future prospect kind of made sense, I would have probably gone with strengthening the o-line. Afterall they have DeAndre Hopkins, who made 1521 yards from 111 receptions off 192 targets with 11 touchdowns from a rotation of 3 quarterbacks. That is consistency and talent right there. Now the Texans, in a suddenly top QB deprived league, have given big monies to Brock Osweiler, so Hopkins should now have only one upper end piece of mediocrity throwing to him than a cluster of lower end mediocrity. And the Texans are sticking with youth as well having let go of Cecil Shorts III even though he looked pretty good last season and made 223 yards after catch. Along with Fuller (and Braxton Miller) they are sticking with Jaelen Strong (their no.1 pick last year) and Mumphery. At the same time, they have lett go of the forever injured Arian Foster. This was sensible as they have been desperate for a running game for the last few seasons what with Foster going down quite early on. Or not starting until quite late on. Lamar Miller is therefore a good signing, possibly wasn’t used to the best of his ability in Miami and will get the majority of carries here with support from Grimes and Blue ( a music duo or genre if ever I heard one). Tyler Irvin will also see some carries as I suspect they will be developing him when the time comes for Miller to move on. In an offense heavy draft, they also picked up center Nick Martin, to add depth and learn from free agency pick up Tony Bergstrom, after Ben Jones was signed by the Titans. They also picked up guard Jeff Allen from the Chiefs, so now the o-line looks pretty good, possibly a bit better than last season.
Did they need pieces on defense? I am not sure, and if they did not many. They only added defensive back Antonio Allen from the Jets in the off season. JJ Watt is now looking like he will be ready for week 1 but most likely we’ll see him in week 2. Jadeveon Clowney may have to step up and take more snaps at defensive end but that is good and balanced defense. Even in the draft the Texans only picked up two players late on, safety K.J Dillon and nose tackle D.J. Reader, suggesting adding depth and future proofing rather than urgency. I mean they still have Vince Wilfork, so Reader really has one of the best to learn from. This is a well rounded defence and was what really marked the Texans out and why they won the AFC South last year. With the likes of Whitney Mercilus (12 sacks and 7 tackles for loss) and Brian Cushing (110 combined tackles and 4 tackles for loss) working magnificently whilst Watt takes most of the focus, this is quite a defense. Andre Hal had a pretty good season, slightly underrated with a good, team leading four interceptions and 10 pass deflections whilst Jonathan Joseph had 22 pass deflections. Antonio Allen adds depth and an extra option in the secondary and K.J. Dillon can be eased into the position and given time to see if he can make it in the NFL.
For me the offense is still the weakness in this team, DeAndre Hopkins now has some support from a running game in Miller, but they have no tight end options (the tight ends they do have are mainly for blocking). The Titans look better, the Colts erm have Luck back and probably a better offense and the Jaguars are now looking like the most likely challenges, with a good balance on both sides of the ball. The Texans still have the best defense but will be pushed probably by the Jaguars. Odds are the Texans will win a successive Division title though again maybe only 9-7 or possibly 10-6 just because of the stability a half ok quarterback brings. The division decider will be December 18th when they play the Jags. I am going out there and saying that whoever wins that, wins the division. And though they are an improved team, could have a better looking season, JJ Watt is going to be challenged to be Defensive Player of the Year as well. For all the improvements it may come to nowt. I even like this team!