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blueprint rebuild houston texans lovie smith
Houston Texans

Texans Have Light at End of Tunnel: Blueprint of a Rebuild

  • Ryan Fowler
  • June 2, 2022
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Football is a results-oriented game but for a handful of teams in the thick of a rebuild, keeping focused remains paramount. Usually with fresh faces aplenty in both the front office and in between the hashes, revamping a roster is often looked upon as a multi-year project. The onus on head coaches to not just keep the ship afloat, but bolster it back up without an extended grace period is one of the toughest jobs in sports. In this mini-series, we’ll dive deep into the architecture of a few teams currently in the midst of working their way back to relevancy and the potential timeline to success for each franchise. This edition will focus on the Houston Texans.

With Head Coach Lovie Smith at the helm, and quarterback Deshaun Watson now elsewhere, the Texans have entered rebuild mode under second-year General Manager Nick Caserio. A franchise that has currently found itself at the foot of a steep climb up towards relevancy, there is light at the end of the tunnel despite the long, exhausting journey ahead. 

With eight wins the last two seasons combined, the Texans have had little to rally around. While the prior days of playoff expectations were fueled by the play of franchise cornerstones in Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt, those names are no longer, and a new era of hungry, aggressive, youth-infused talent has emerged with expectations at a minimum in 2022. 

A draft haul headlined by No. 3 overall selection Derek Stingley Jr., Houston could have seven – or more – rookies start for Smith this fall. It’s an outrageous number to fathom considering the importance of balancing youth with veteran leadership and production. The best way to accelerate a rebuild is to see what you got, and when it comes to Stingley, Kenyon Green, Jalen Pitre, John Metchie III, Christian Harris, Dameon Pierce and Thomas Booker, there’s no shortage of juice. The time is now, whether they’re ready or not. 

Progressing into high-impact players will come with snaps and once the game begins to slow down, their path to reaching their performance ceiling will only accelerate. 

Although a ton of attention has surrounded Stingley early in offseason workouts, the narrative surrounding Metchie’s game hasn’t done him justice. I’ll be more than glad to assist with that, looking at Metchie as someone who could quickly work into a hefty amount of targets from quarterback Davis Mills. 

“That kid’s special,” wide receiver Brandin Cooks said of his new teammate.

While Metchie continues to rehab following surgery in December, it’s been the “little things” that have impressed Cooks. That’s what makes him believe Houston’s second-round pick has every trait necessary to become an impact player once he’s ramped up to full speed.

“You can just tell it,” Cooks said. “You know when you talk with someone, you just get that feel about a guy; the way that he goes about his business. Obviously right now he’s not going with us, but his focus and paying attention to the little details that he can pay attention to — I like him and I can’t wait to get to work with him.”

Often looked upon as the shallow target-hog or sure-handed possession receiver within the intermediate portions of the offense, Metchie worked his way up the exhausting Alabama depth chart of talent in Tuscaloosa to ultimately earn his keep. From battles in practice to take targets away from the likes of DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, Metchie blossomed in 2021 working opposite Detroit Lions first-round pick Jameson Williams for the Crimson Tide.

“Some of the things that he did at Alabama, and some of the things he endured and played with, just no normal people would do,” Texans GM Nick Caserio said. “This guy’s level of toughness is exceptional.”

That toughness was something Metchie touted as a young boy. Born in Taiwan, he moved around the globe to Ghana and Canada before settling in the United States. Metchie’s experiences within the world’s most unique landscapes and cultures expedited his childhood and he grew up quickly. Before he ever would take a pass to pay dirt in front of the raucous crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium, his days of escaping guard dogs in Ghana were where he initially developed his elite speed. Although he entered Alabama at the bottom of the totem pole as most freshmen do, Metchie established himself as a grinder from the moment he stepped foot into Alabama’s facility. Late nights, early mornings, social events and parties were long afterthoughts as Metchie was in the weight and meeting rooms as often as he could be before personnel would kick him out. He had to earn his stripes, and boy did he. 

Metchie is a smooth-moving talent who totaled nearly 2,000 yards receiving during his final two years in Tuscaloosa. He proved time and time again he’s much more than his labeled “security blanket” at the second level. While false narratives are common surrounding first-year talents, Metchie and Cooks have the potential to progress into an awfully nice 1-2 punch for Mills this fall. 

As you look at Houston’s offense, you begin to see the pieces that could slowly jigsaw together in due time. You have Pierce in the backfield, whose fresh legs out of Florida could and should see him lead the Texans backfield in carries and yards. There’s Green on the offensive interior, who is an athletic specimen with true five-position versatility in the trenches. But the defensive side of the ball is where things really begin to pop. 

Outside of the aptly nicknamed ‘Sting’, who has all the tools to progress into one of the league’s premier corners down the road, Pitre, Harris, and Booker all tout NFL-ready skill sets that should allow them to work into substantial roles starting from Week 1. Whether it’s Booker’s alignment versatility and power, Harris’ nasty temperament and sideline to sideline range, or Pitre’s alpha mentality at the ceiling of the defense, the Texans have begun to establish their foundation and introduced one of the more exciting, youthful cores that any team in football has to offer. It will take time – always remember that this thing is a process – but for Caserio, Smith and a group of 53 hungry for success, the Texans have put in place the stationary roots for what they hope will develop into a blossoming roster in the seasons to come. 


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Ryan Fowler