Is Watson Enough To Push 2018 Houston Texans To Playoffs?
by DS WilliamsonOh, what could have been for the Houston Texans! Once the team started rookie Deshaun Watson at QB, the offense took off. Suddenly, Watson to DeAndre Hopkins became the best QB/WR combo in the NFL. But just as Watson was blowing up the league...he blew out his knee in practice, dropping the curtain on what was becoming an incredibly entertaining show. Houston is bullish on Deshaun returning 100%. With a healthy Watson, are the 2018 Houston Texans Super Bowl LIII contenders? Or, will the Texans slide behind AFC South power house teams Jacksonville and Tennessee.
Healthy Watson means one of the best offenses in the NFL A healthy Deshaun Watson should mean that the 2018 Houston Texans will field one of the very best offenses in the NFL. When Watson and wide receivers Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins all played together, the Texans averaged over 40 points per game.
Watson threw 19 TD passes in only 7 games played and 6 games started. That’s unreal. It’s also legitimate because once Watson went down to an injury, the best wide receiver in the NFL, DeAndre Hopkins, continued to catch the football.
Hopkins ended up catching 96 passes for 1,378 yards. He also caught 13 TD passes. What it means is that even though DeAndre faced double-teams without his star QB, he continued to produce numbers. That’s what makes him the best wide receiver in the NFL. Pair him with an elite quarterback (or even a capable one) and it's boom-goes-the-dynamite time.
The key for Watson to remain healthy is Houston’s offensive line. The offensive line has 4 new starters. That could work either way for Deshaun. If the offensive line doesn’t come together, Houston’s offense should be in trouble because Watson must again run for his life. It's not an ideal situation for a young quarterback coming off a brutal knee injury.
If the offensive line does come together, Houston will try to rush the football more. The problem is that the Texans' only running back with break away speed is D’Onta Foreman. Coming off an Achilles injury, Houston isn’t even sure if Foreman will be ready to play Week 1. That means the 2018 Houston Texans have questions surrounding their franchise QB as well as their running game overall. It's an optimistic, but tenuous, situation.
Surprisingly, there are questions about Houston’s defense First, defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel is no longer with the team. Legendary DC Romeo Crennel is back, though, which means at least the defensive strategy should be solid.
You need players to apply an excellent defensive strategy, though. There’s no telling if DE JJ Watt will return to his old, dominant, self. Watt’s days of beating double-teams could be over after back-to-back, season ending injuries. It feels like he's Watt is never healthy. The other DE, Jadeveon Clowney, now sees double-teams on every play. Crennel must get creative so that Clowney can free himself to make an impact.
The defense will be without Brian Cushing. Both Whitney Mercilus and Benardrick McKinney are decent. They’re not Brian Cushing.
The biggest question on Houston’s defense is what impact free agent Tyrann Mathieu will have. Mathieu has never played an entire season without getting hurt. Hopefully, Houston didn’t waste dollars and a spot on the team when they signed Mathieu, though he fits the profile of defensive studs in Houston considering his injury history and overall potential. A healthy Mathieu and Watt would be an obvious, scale-tipper for the 2018 Houston Texans.
But avoiding injuries in Houston has historically been impossible.
The 2018 Houston Texans could make a run to the playoffs if… If Deshaun Watson comes back 100%, the Houston Texans will make a run to the playoffs and be the team to beat in the playoffs. His offensive potency alone could shore up any injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Breaking through a team like the Jaguars is no easy task, but the glimpses that Watson displayed last year raise hopes. He's a special player.
If the 2018 Houston Texans make the playoffs, don’t expect a run to the Super Bowl. The defense needs a lot of work (and duct tape). The biggest problem is that it's so hard to win in this league without an effective rushing attack. You can't forecast injuries even if we joke about them, but the fact that the Texans don't have a reliable grinder on the pavement is a huge hole that hasn't been filled properly.
There are too many "if's" with this team to lay any long-term action.