Friday night wrapped up a week of pursuing and signing the first wave of a free agent class that will help the Texans where they need it most; up front on offense and in back on defense.
Let’s start with the secondary, where a deal was struck Friday night to employ the services of Tyrann Mathieu. With the Honey Badger and Aaron Colvin added to the mix, there’s no doubt the Texans will be harder to throw on. Colvin is one of the top slot corners in the game but he’s quick to point out he can play outside. And Mathieu is a pure playmaker who can line up in a variety of places and help make life miserable for quarterbacks.
Don’t underestimate the significance of re-upping with Johnathan Joseph, who still has plenty of game and no shortage of wisdom and leadership for the whole group. Johnson Bademosi is an expert on special teams and can certainly do some solid work in the defensive backfield as well (he started three games for the Patriots last season).
The bottom line on the back end is that it gets stingier with Mathieu and Colvin. And takeaways should start to rev up with the new kids on the block combined with the cavalry coming back in the front seven with the return of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.
The offensive line turns over with three new members who all talked Thursday about one particular phase of their game: run blocking. Don’t forget that while Deshaun Watson was playing and throwing all those TD passes, the Texans were third in the NFL in rushing.
Zach Fulton can maul people at the line of scrimmage (6-5, 324) and can play center or guard. Senio Kelemete started nine games last year for a Saints team that, yeah had Drew Brees, but also led the league in yards per rush (4.7). Seantrel Henderson started 10 games at right tackle in 2015 for a Buffalo team that led the NFL in rushing. Henderson, now with the recovery from Crohn’s disease fully in the rearview mirror, could be a big factor if things play out right.
This won’t be a Woody Hayes run game. This will be the Watson show, with plenty of play action and zone read stuff. Bill O’Brien had a lot more material that he never got to with his new quarterback and 2018 will be a full DW4 showcase. But it all hinges on the ability to run it. And the linemen the Texans picked up should fortify the attack.
The newcomers are a great start but there are plenty of next-steps in terms of improvement and acquisitions. The left tackle question still yields some discussion. The tight end group is hardly finished. But the overall trend looks positive.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 9/17/2019)