HOUSTON (CBS Houston): The 2014 season is still 4 months away, but it’s already very clear. The Texans are going to be a very physical football team.
Forget any semblance of the finesse team the Texans had become under Gary Kubiak. Forget the idea of getting a hot shot young quarterback making game winning throws. Disregard any intimation of a high octane offense.
This is going to be a lunch pail team. A big, physical, tough, grind it out, wear you down type of team. This is going to be Ground and Pound.
The Texans loaded up their defense to fit Romeo Crennel’s ‘big 3-4′ defense. They are committed to getting to the passer, and plugging up interior running lanes. They have speed on the outside and size up the middle.
Jadeveon Clowney (6-6, 266) lining up opposite JJ Watt has the potential to be one of the fiercest pair of bookend rushers ever, but that was just the beginning.
When they traded up in the 3rd round to grab Louis Nix III, a mountainous DT to plug into the middle of that defensive line, this defense got stamped with Romeo’s approval. Add in 6th rounder Jeoffrey Pagan (6-3, 310), and that defensive line went from “Who is going to play next to JJ Watt?” to a huge strength and potentially intimidating front.
Teams could be hard pressed to consistently double team Watt with Clowney on the other side, and you know what happens when JJ Watt isn’t getting double teamed on a regular basis.
Clowney moving to OLB also makes it very possible the long-rumored shift of Brooks Reed to ILB finally happens, allowing the team to have its best players in Clowney, Reed, Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus on the field at the same time on a regular basis.
They also bulked up on offense, which can only bode well for the running game.
Second round pick Xavier Su’a-Filo (6-4, 307) can play both Guard and Tackle, is powerful, and known for an insane work ethic. 3rd rounder CJ Fiedorowicz (6-6, 265) is an old school TE, a punishing blocker who has good enough hands to be a weapon in the passing game. 6th round pick Jay Prosch (6-1, 254) is the best FB in the draft, and is a tremendously physical player who enjoys punishing defenders and running them over. Prosch was also a Special Teams star at Auburn.
All that added beef certainly lends credence to the idea that the Texans will lean far more heavily on a healthy Arian Foster to shoulder the load offensively than on veteran retread Ryan Fitzpatrick to sling the ball around the field.
The Ground and Pound plan makes plenty of sense considering the team did not draft a potential franchise quarterback, and there really isn’t one to trade for. They will look for Fitzpatrick to be a smart game manager, run the ball down teams’ throats and focus on ball security and good decisions. They will likely play it safe and let their defense impose a new tough, physical, punishing style to keep opponents at bay.
Its a foundation that the team can use to be competitive right away despite their inability to land a big time, NFL ready QB. 4th round pick Tom Savage will have at least a year to learn from a very intelligent, if physically limited Fitzpatrick. If the strong -armed rookie can absorb some of the Harvard veteran’s smarts, he could wind up being a pretty good player. As a 4th round pick, its a risk/reward play, without much risk.
So forget about the dreams of a year ago, when the Texans added DeAndre Hopkins to help their expected dynamic offense. Those days are over. This team is going to punch opponents in the mouth, on both sides of the ball, and often.
If you like physical football, this team may be a lot of fun to watch.
Patrick Creighton is the host of “Nate & Creight”, along with Nate Griffin, Sundays 2-5p on Sportsradio 610 Houston. Follow him on twitter: @PCreighton1 https://twitter.com/PCreighton1