We’re back with just what you’ve been waiting for: another FY 2016 NFL team preview. Not interested in the Texans? (We won’t tell J.J., or will we?) Jump to Arizona; Atlanta; Baltimore; Buffalo; Carolina; Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Green Bay.
Where They’re Coming From
Continuing to lose to everyone except Cincinnati in the playoffs.
No division had fewer wins in 2015 than the AFC South (25); yet, someone had to be awarded a spot in the playoffs.
That team was the Houston Texans, and they got dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs (30-0) in every way imaginable during their Wild Card matchup. The loss drops the franchise’s playoff record to 2-3; the only two wins came against the Bengals.
The Texans were held back by their offense, which was led by Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, and even Brandon Weeden at varying times last year. The Houston brass believes they’ll receive much better QB play in 2016.
Where They’re Going
As far as a quarterback who’s only started seven games in four seasons will take them.
The Texans were finally so fed up with the poor quarterback play that has plagued them over the last few seasons that they made push for Peyton Manning’s heir apparent, Brock Osweiler. Houston gave the former Bronco a four-year contract worth $72-million, with just over half of it guaranteed.
That’s a good chunk of change for a guy who has so few starts in the NFL, and was benched for a 60-year-old dude wearing a Peyton Manning jersey.
I get it though. The presence of a franchise quarterback can mask so many flaws, and Osweiler has the potential to be that.
Key Offseason Moves
Additions: QB Brock Osweiler, RB Lamar Miller, WR Will Fuller (drafted)
Losses: RB Arian Foster, G Brandon Brooks, S Rahim Moore
What to Watch For
Their new-look offense.
Not only do the Texans have a new quarterback to help improve the 21st-ranked scoring offense from 2015, but they also added running back Lamar Miller in free agency.
Is Miller better than Arian Foster when are both healthy? I don’t believe so. But how often has Arian Foster been healthy over his seven years in the league?
Adding these two to an offense that already boasted one of the best receivers in the league, DeAndre Hopkins, should prevent, or at least minimize, more reactions like this from head coach Bill O’Brien.
Who to Watch For
Jadeveon Clowney, OLB
Although I do see Osweiler positively impacting his new team, he won’t make many plays that make us say “wow” this season. He’ll be good, but not great.
One man who does have the potential to leave us speechless is third-year OLB Jadeveon Clowney. His two seasons as a pro have been riddled with injuries, only playing in 17 games over that span, and he’s yet to display anything close to his potential.
If Clowney can stay healthy and be the J.J. Watt sidekick the Texans thought they were getting, the defense will go from a top-ten unit to a top-three squad that can outright win games.
What Could Go Wrong
We’ve heard Osweiler’s name so much over the last year that it’s easy to forget how little we’ve actually seen him on the field in the last four years. Houston is getting something of a mystery bag. For all the good he showed against New England, there was also that game against Oakland, where Osweiler failed to punch it in on three trips to the red zone and had a miserable second half.
A horrific second half would also haunt him the following week against Pittsburgh, when Denver would squander a 27-10 lead.
He may be really good, but he also may be very mediocre.
Where They’ll End Up
Needing to win three of their last four for a shot at the playoffs.
Thanks to winning the division last year, the Texans draw the Patriots and Bengals on top of the AFC West and NFC North in 2016. It certainly won’t be a walk in the park for Osweiler in his first season as a starting quarterback.
As long as Osweiler doesn’t turn out to be a complete bust, Houston should control its own destiny entering Week 14. To close the season, they’ll travel to Indy, host the Jaguars and Bengals, and then finish up at Tennessee. The games against the Colts and Jaguars will be crucial.