After a disappointing loss to the Colts in the playoffs, what’s next for the Texans? What moves do they need to make to take that next step? And, is Bill O’Brien’s job at stake?
While the ending wasn’t great, it was a decent season for the Houston Texans. In fact, this team started 0-3 with very slim chances to make the postseason. Then, they pulled off nine straight wins and finished 11-5. Yet another AFC South Championship banner to add at NRG Stadium next summer. However, at what point do division championships stop mattering.
Since 2011, the Texans have racked up five division titles. In that same time span, however, the Texans have amassed zero AFC Championship appearances, let alone zero Super Bowl appearances. An even sadder point, Houston has hosted more Super Bowls than appeared in them. How many times? Twice. Once in 2004, and again in 2017.
So, the question becomes. When do the Texans take the next step? Year after year fans and pundits alike say “this is the year.” However, since 2011, the farthest the team has gone is the divisional round. Often times it has been the likes of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots knocking them out. Still, there are those that wonder what exactly holds Houston back from going farther.
Perhaps the offensive line still needs work. I agree. Or, the defensive is one safety/cornerback away. Or, maybe the head coach is just not up to par with the play calling in the playoffs. Often times, coach Bill O’Brien has been criticized for his lack of aggressiveness in the playoffs. Whatever the case may be, for sure the O-Line and coaching need heavy improvement. Let’s take a look at some highlights.
Just how much pressure was Deshaun Watson under? He was hit 11 times total and sacked three times with 18 yards lost. Watson is no stranger to being hit. During the regular season, Watson was sacked a league-leading 62 times. The O-Line has been a problem with the Texans for a few seasons now. Something needs to be done to address that issue. If Watson continues to get punished that way, he won’t last long with his injury history. Despite the rough day, Watson still managed to throw for 235 yards, with one touchdown and an interception.
Overall, the offensive side of the ball is solid. DeAndre Hopkins is an established star receiver. Demaryius Thomas will return from injury, and at quarterback, Watson has proven to be stable. Oh, and don’t forget about Pro Bowl running back, Lamar Miller.
While the defense is mostly set, perhaps one more tweak at safety or cornerback is needed. Tyrann Mathieu is not a bad way to start. Overall, the defense is just fine. No doubt, J.J. Watt is the leader and rock on that end. Add Jadeveon Clowney, Benardrick McKinney, and Johnathan Joseph, and that is a solid wall.
Serious problems begin with the play calling as coach Bill O’Brien play calling is and has been questionable. Often times, the Texans shut down in the postseason. Why is that? Perhaps lack of aggressive plays. The Texans, offensively speaking, are often too predictable. All teams prepare for the prospect of Hopkins having a big day. O’Brien has no answer for it, and the offense typically shuts down. Or, the running game isn’t utilized to it’s fullest. That is a daunting task considering the lack of an O-Line.
The true first order of business is replacing Mr. Bob McNair. After all, someone has to pay the staff and players. Hopefully, the next owner is as passionate about the team, its players, and the community of fans in Houston. As for coach O’Brien, one more year is the limit. It may be time for a different voice to lead this group.
As a whole, O’Brien’s tenure has been good. However, as revered as he is for offensive coaching, it just hasn’t shown up come playoff time. His first order of business should be the O-Line. Nothing else. Without a line, the quarterback has more work ahead of him. It is truly a shame that Houston has yet to appear in a Super Bowl.
The time is now to act. Take the lessons and prepare for next season. Watson is improving every year, while Watt and Hopkins are in their prime. It would be sad to have that talent wasted.
Well Texan fans, it has been quite the year. This team certainly displayed poise and perseverance despite the slow start. It was not the desired result. However, it is far from over. There is a good base to build upon.
Rest easy, Mr. McNair. Thank you for all of your work and dedication. Next season, is for you. Until next year Texan fans. And always remember. The Bulls are always on parade.