HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has been adamant since the end of the 2016 season that the offense needs to improve for 2017. The 2016 version of the Texans offense left a lot to be desired as they were near the very bottom of the league in touchdowns, yards and points.
As a result the Texans made several changes including jettisoning former starting QB Brock Osweiler, parting ways with offensive coordinator George Godsey and moving up in the first round of the draft to take former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson plus adding running back D’Onta Foreman in the third round.
The Texans young receivers from the 2016 draft class Will Fuller and Braxton Miller are entering their second year in the league and will be asked to do even more with a different quarterback throwing their direction. While Fuller was the one who contributed the most in his rookie season, both he and Miller are expected to be major contributors this season.
“For the guys that were rookies last year, this is a much easier spring for them because they know where to go, they know what to do,” O’Brien said Wednesday. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement with all the guys that were rookies last year: Will, Braxton (Miller) had a good day yesterday. It’s only May. It’s OTAs. But it’s looking pretty good.”
The narrative of O’Brien’s offense continues to be that it is difficult to learn and even more difficult for rookies to pick up in their first NFL season. Fuller cited on Wednesday that there is different level of comfort in this offense in his second season.
“I feel like it’s a lot different, first year to second year. Last year I was thinking a lot. Just coming in trying to learn the offense and trying to make sure I was doing everything perfect. This year I’m just a lot more relaxed.”
Miller, the converted former Ohio State quarterback spent a lot of his rookie season learning and nursing injuries. He did play in 10 games and caught 15 balls for 99 yards and a touchdown. He shares Fuller’s comfort entering the second season.
“I especially know where I am lining up at, the plays. It makes a big difference from year one to year two,” Miller said.
The wide receiving core got an additional boost this offseason with the addition of longtime Patriots wide out Wes Welker to the coaching staff. The former all-pro re-invented the role of the slot receiver with New England and is offering insight and guidance to all the wideouts, but especially to Miller who is playing the same role Welker did in a similar offense.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to learn from one of the greatest slot players who’s the game especially in this type of system,” Miller said of the opportunity to learn from Welker. “I’m always in his ear bugging him as you can see after practice I was asking him all types of question what he sees what I did wrong today.”
Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for Sportsradio610.com and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio