Welcome to the best NFL offseason series you'll ever read -- that is, if you're like me, and you want nothing more than the blissful lie that your team will be good in 2019. How Your Team Won Super Bowl 54 will take you through each NFL franchise with one goal in mind: convincing you that there's at least one universe in which Your Team wins it all. I'm Doctor Strange, you're Tony Stark, the Avengers are Your Team, Thanos is...Bill Belichick? I've lost the metaphor.
One thing's for sure:
You'll die in the end. Your Team is going to win Super Bowl 54.
SOMEONE GET DESHAUN WATSON SOME HELP
Last week, I wrote about the Cleveland Browns, and how they've flawlessly executed the game plan written: "How To Build Around A Young QB." I discussed top-flight weapons, offensive play designers, aggressive splash mentality -- the only thing I criticized was their willingness to make moves on the offensive line and sacrifice some protection accordingly.
Now, let us turn to the Texans, who have done everything...what's the opposite of right, again? Oh, yes: ruefully, reprehensibly, unapologetically wrong.
No! Wait! Hang on. They drafted Keke Coutee.
Okay, everything else was wrong.
The Texans drafted Deshaun Watson with the 12th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, moving an extra first round pick to do so -- an undeniable bargain in even a short-term retrospect. They would go on to select in the 2017 Draft: Texas RB D'Onta Foreman in the third round, who has since been cut from the team; Bucknell OT Julie'n Davenport in the fourth, who is unable to break into the starting rotation and a grimace-inducing liability when forced into playing time; Baylor C Kyle Fuller, who is no longer on the team.
In the 2018 Draft, they would select: UCF TE Jordan Akins in the third round, who would see 25 targets as TE3; Mississippi State TE Jordan Thomas, who would see 27 targets as TE2; and the aforementioned Coutee, who lost most of the season to injury, but was good when he was on the field. They also grabbed third-round OL Martinas Rankin, who appeared in 10 games, took snaps at 3 different spots, and struggled in every one.
Since they selected Deshaun Watson, they have not added -- listen to me, they HAVE NOT ADDED -- an offensive contributor via the draft. And this year 'round, it's OT Tytus Howard, OT Max Scharping, and TE Kahale Warring. While yet unproven, most of those picks were viewed as reaches by draft analysts onlooking. I, for one, don't see NFL starters in either Howard or Scharping -- at least not for a couple of years -- and Warring isn't polished enough to break ahead of Akins or Thomas on the depth chart. Suffice to say: I'm worried.
So let's look at free agency.
In 2018, the Texans added: QB Brandon Weeden, OG Senio Kelemete, C Zach Fulton, OT Seantrel Henderson, and via October trade, also grabbed WR Demaryius Thomas. Weeden and Thomas are gone; Kelemete, Fulton, and Henderson all start for one of the least effective offensive lines in the NFL. Kelemete and Fulton are both replacement-level players, despite the fact that Rankin was, you know, unable to replace them in 2018; Henderson is a step above, but still nothing to hang your hat on.
In 2019, the Texans added: OT Matt Kalil, TE Darren Fells, QB A.J. McCarron, and...holy smokes that's it. That's really it. Three back-ups to a team in desperate need of splash talent at RB, on the offensive line, and at the tight end position (even with development for young guys considered).
I was quick to rip on the Duke Johnson trade, but man, maybe the headless chicken that is the Texans' front office will be better at finding eggs than whatever has been happening for the last two calendar years. It may have cost a fourth-but-maybe-a-third-round selection to snag Johnson from Cleveland, but it also cost a third to draft D'Onta Foreman and Martinas Rankin -- at least we know that Duke can play.
What the Texans are doing to Deshaun Watson may amount to the most vigorous squandering of a rookie-contract QB in recent memory. They've never paid him more than $4M and been unable to do acquire anything on offense regardless. Watson started his first game handing it off to Lamar Miller and throwing it DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller (yes, technically, Fuller was injured in Watson's first start) -- he's going to do much the same. He played behind a Swiss cheese offensive line in 2017, he did it in 2018, and all signs point to pressure in 2019 as well.
The Texans fired their general manager; to be frank, Bill O'Brien should be next. Get people in the building who will move heaven and earth to set their quarterback up for success. Or, you know, continue to get pantsed by the top teams in your conference. Also cool.
How The Houston Texans Won Super Bowl 54
Jadeveon Clowney gets a five-year extension to play OT, and J.J. Watt plays both ways at RG. Watson learns how to throw the ball in under 3 seconds (I notably left that detail out of my tirade above) by practicing with hand grenades. Duke Johnson catches 200 balls with an average depth-of-target of 3 air yards, totals 1,100 in YAC, and wins OPOY -- Baker Mayfield openly wonders if he's a team player. Justin Reid has a game-winning pick six against Carson Wentz in the Super Bowl henceforth known as the DeAndre Carter Revenge Bowl.
How many universes does this happen in?
15 out of 1000. This team was 11-5 last year and I think the crash down to Earth is imminent.
How does it all go wrong?
They. Don't. Have. A. General. Manager.