The Houston Texans came three quarters shy of hosting an AFC Championship Game with the taste of a Super Bowl LIV trip within their grasp. Deshaun Watson is capable of greatness, but he’ll need a little help if the Texans want to reach their Super Bowl dreams.
Frankly, it’s remarkable that Watson carried this team as far as he did. Playing behind a spotty offensive line with a porous defense and a go-to receiver who kept getting hurt, he lifted this team to its ceiling.
If the Texans make the right moves this offseason to help their franchise quarterback, Watson could lift the Lombardi Trophy above his head a year from now.
After trading two first-round picks for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Kenny Stills, Watson excelled once again in 2019 with more talent around him. The 24-year-old threw for 3,852 yards with a 26-12 TD-INT ratio and rushed for 413 yards with a career-high seven rushing touchdowns. Houston finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, and then Watson made one of the best plays of the season to secure a playoff win.
The Texans jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the AFC divisional playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs and were seemingly headed for an upset. Unfortunately, a few baffling decisions by Bill O’Brien and the collapse of the Texans defense knocked them out of the playoffs.
Instead of firing O’Brien, the team gave him even more power. While Houston would have greatly benefited from a new coach leading this team into the future, a few moves this offseason can still make the Texans a Super Bowl contender.
Creating more cap room: The Texans head into the offseason with $55 million in cap space after signing Whitney Mercilus to an extension. It’s a substantial number to work with, but a few moves would give this team even more financial flexibility:
These four moves turn $55 million in cap space into $75 million-plus to spend this offseason. It’s the type of flexibility that makes extending Deshaun Watson and building a championship-caliber supporting cast possible.
O’Brien’s trades for Tunsil and Gareon Conley demonstrate his aggressiveness to land impact talent. While it might also come with long-term consequences, O’Brien’s approach could at least be beneficial to this offseason.
Houston’s head coach and general manager should look to support his quarterback and new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball to do just that. Here are the moves Houston should make:
The Texans will certainly look to make a splash this offseason. Signing Jones and extending Watson would more than account for that. Bringing back Roby and Reader also shows that O’Brien will reward players who make a meaningful impact for this team.
This type of offseason simplifies Houston’s remaining needs for the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s especially important given the team’s limited draft capital to work it. So, with the secondary and defensive line bolstered, O’Brien can turn his attention to a few other areas of need in the draft:
Houston adds an exciting running back to its backfield and an offensive lineman to help protect the franchise quarterback. Between those selections, Chinn could prove to be one of the steals from this draft class, and he’ll take this secondary to a new level. These are the kinds of moves that can help the Texans become a Super Bowl contender.
It can take teams a decade to assemble the talent the Texans already have. Watson is a championship-caliber quarterback, but he hasn’t been provided with the supporting cast that can win a Super Bowl. All of that can change this offseason.
Everyone knows the Texans must do a better job protecting Watson. Tunsil can be an All-Pro left tackle, and 2019 first-round pick Tytus Howard will return as a pillar on the right side in 2020. Onwenu’s addition will help keep Watson’s jersey clean moving forward. Keeping Watson upright also relies upon a strong running game. That’s where Taylor can help the offense reach its full potential.
Of course, a dominant offense isn’t enough to win the Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes only had a chance at his remarkable comeback because his defense came through with big plays in the clutch. The additions of Byron Jones and Jeremy Chinn, with J.J. Watt hopefully healthy, can help Houston’s defense reach that next level.
The opportunity is now for the Texans to compete for a Super Bowl. Windows like this close quickly in the NFL, especially once top quarterbacks get paid. If the Texans want to win a Super Bowl, these are the moves that can help them accomplish it.
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While many quarterbacks have thrown passes for the Houston Texans over the years, this quiz only lists the signal callers who led the team in passing yards in the years displayed.