Today we’ll wrap up our AFC South preview by covering the Houston Texans. 2020 was not kind to the Texans as they ended up with a disappointing 4-12 record. The bad season got Bill O’Brien fired and David Culley is now the head man in charge.
2021 could be even worse for Houston as Pro Bowl QB Deshaun Watson is in the midst of a horrific legal investigation involving sexual misconduct. Needless to say, Coach Culley has his work cut out for him in his first season as an NFL head coach.
No one really knows if Deshaun Watson will play a down of football this year. The 25-year old is still being investigated by the NFL as multiple lawsuits have been filed against him. Journeyman Tyrod Taylor has been brought in as a contingency plan for Houston at QB in case Watson is unavailable. The 31-year old Taylor has a decent skill set but has played many meaningful downs since 2017.
Former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram will start at running back for the Texans after several good seasons with the Saints and Ravens (Ourlads.com). Houston also has David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, and Rex Burkhead competing for carries in a crowded backfield. Overall, the Texans rushing attack should be decent.
The Texans have a few nice weapons at wide receiver with guys like Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb providing some nice veteran leadership. Cooks was a stud for Houston last season by catching 81 passes for 1,150 yards and six scores. Nico Collins, a third-round draft pick from Michigan, will provide a nice big target (6-4, 215 lbs.) for whoever ends up playing QB. Tight end Brevin Jordan was also a nice pick out of Miami in the fifth round.
The 2020 Texans defense surrendered 29 points per game, which ranked 27th in the league. Last year’s biggest weakness was stopping the run as they gave up over 160 yards per game on the ground (last in the NFL). Houston brought in a few free agents in the offseason to hopefully improve on those abysmal numbers.
One bright spot on last year’s defense was linebacker Zach Cunningham. The 26-year old had a fantastic 2020 season by leading the league in tackles with 164.
Cunningham should get some good help this year from Shaq Lawson, who the Texans stole away from Miami this offseason. Lawson is a talented pass rusher who hasn’t yet reached his full potential.
2021 Special Teams
Cameron Johnston comes over from the Eagles as the new Texans punter in 2021. Johnston averaged 46.7 yards per punt last season.
Ka’imi Fairbairn returns at kicker for Houston this year. The former UCLA standout performed well in 2020 by hitting 27 of his 31 field goal attempts.
Keke Coutee will handle all return duties for the Texans in 2021. The fast wide receiver from Texas Tech had 48 punt return yards and 97 kick return yards last season.