By Shawn Lealos
The Houston Texans won the AFC South in 2015 before getting blown out of the playoffs by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans looked like they were getting better when they signed big-money free agent quarterback Brock Osweiler to become their franchise quarterback. However, things did not go as planned. Injuries and an underperforming offense didn’t stop them from winning the AFC South once again, and they even won a playoff game, but the season ended on a down note and there are big questions about the future of the Houston team.
Brock Osweiler Gamble Doesn’t Pay Off
Brock Osweiler was supposed to be the heir apparent to Peyton Manning in Denver, but the Houston Texans waved a mighty big check in front of the 26-year-old QB and signed him away. Osweiler helped lead Denver to the playoffs in 2015, but the Broncos benched him for Manning in the playoffs. He repaid them by leaving for Houston, but he failed to repay the Texans for the four-year, $72 million contract they paid him.
While Osweiler had the Texans in first place in the AFC South throughout the season, he was not playing up to expectations. It was the defense that was winning games, and Osweiler was making too many mistakes. He finished the regular season with a 59 percent completion percentage and more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15). He was benched and replaced by Tom Savage, who had never started a regular season game.
Savage suffered a concussion that ended his season and Osweiler was back in for the playoffs. He completed only 56.9 percent of his passes, threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball once in the playoffs. Houston saw their season end against the New England Patriots in the playoffs and the Texans must make a decision concerning their quarterback.
A Championship Defense
J.J. Watt is the only player in NFL history to record more than one 20-sack season. He is a multiple-time defensive MVP and was also a finalist for the NFL MVP honors at one point in his career. However, his season ended before it got started when he had to undergo back surgery. With Watt out of the lineup, many experts expected the Texans to collapse this season.
Houston proved everyone wrong and ended up as the No. 1 defense in the NFL for 2016. They gave up a low 301.3 total yards per game in the regular season. Houston’s D wasn’t the best when it came to turnovers (17) or sacks (31), but they did everything that they needed to do to stop other teams from moving the ball down the field. Despite the offensive turnovers, Houston’s defense held on to win games.
Benardrick McKinney finished with 129 total tackles while Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney combined for 13.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. Mercilus added three more sacks on the postseason and the Texans made Tom Brady look average. This is a defense that was great in 2016 and they will have J.J. Watt back at 100-percent in 2017. This defense is built to win championships.
An Important Offseason
The biggest decision that the Houston Texans must make concerns their quarterback. Houston wanted something better than Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2014 when he averaged 23.3 points per game. Brock Osweiler took the huge contract and Houston averaged 17.4 points per game this season. Houston will probably draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft unless they shock teams by making a huge free agent move by signing someone like Tony Romo.
Lamar Miller was not bad as the Texans’ new running back and DeAndre Hopkins is an All-Pro looking for a real quarterback to throw him the ball. This defense needs little work and will remain great in 2017. If the Texans can find a real quarterback, they could be knocking on the door of the Super Bowl in 2017.