We are more than two months into the 2017 fiscal year for the National Football League. It’s safe to say we have seen plenty of player movement via free agency and trades. And in late April, a total of 253 players were selected in the NFL draft. So as teams stare at mini-camps, OTAs and more, we figured it was a good time to have some fun looking (and learning) at the significant numbers – both in regards to the past and the present – for each of the 32 franchises. You can play catch-up by clicking here. Next up are the Houston Texans.
A year ago, the Houston Texans were celebrating the addition of free-agent quarterback Brock Osweiler. The former backup to Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos signed a four-year, $72 million deal with his new employer. But for numerous reasons, it proved to be a disastrous move and earlier this year, he was dealt to the Cleveland Browns.
General manager Rick Smith made another deal with the same club on April 27 and with the 12th pick in the draft grabbed national championship signal-caller Deshaun Watson. Keep in mind that under head coach Bill O’Brien, Houston has used eight different starting quarterbacks and managed three straight 9-7 seasons. That includes back-to-back AFC South titles. Watson will eventually become starter No. 9 under O’Brien. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for him to supplant Tom Savage behind center.
No team in the league allowed fewer total yards per game than O’Brien’s squad. And now there’s a new defensive coordinator running the show as Mike Vrabel takes over while Romeo Crennel fades slightly into the background. It’s a unit that’s loaded at several positions, led by pass-rushing threats such as Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. And with J.J. Watt healthy once again, this could be a fearsome unit. However, free agency did rob the team of ball-hawking strong safety Quintin Demps and outside linebacker John Simon.
One aspect of the Houston Texans’ game that has slipped noticeably over the last few years is the team’s ability to come up with takeaways. Back in 2014, the club forced an NFL-best 34 turnovers. That number slipped to 25 in ’15 and down to 17 takeaways this past season. The return of a healthy Watt should aid a pass rush that managed a subpar 31 sacks. And some added pressure on opposing signal-caller should create some more big plays for Vrabel’s unit.