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  • An impressive building job around Andrew Luck should pay off this season—and maybe for the foreseeable future. Plus, did the Texans do enough to give Deshaun Watson the protection he needs, will Nick Foles work out in Jacksonville and can Marcus Mariota prove it in a prove-it year?
By Conor Orr
June 04, 2019

The MMQB is evaluating each team’s offseason, division by division. Find all the offseason progress reports here.


HOUSTON TEXANS

2018 record: 11-5

New players: Tashaun Gipson, Bradley Roby, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Darren Fells, A.J. McCarron

Players lost: Tyrann Mathieu, Kareem Jackson, Demaryius Thomas, Alfred Blue

In what areas did the team improve? This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I kind of loved Houston’s additions in the secondary. Briean Boddy-Calhoun remains one of my favorite undersized players in the league and is an aggressive chess piece in a versatile scheme. The one-year deal for Bradley Roby was also strong, a buy-low option in a market where long-term deals are typically the norm. The former first-round pick started at least 15 games in each of his first five seasons.

What areas still need help/what does the team still need to do? The Texans needed to build their offensive line, if that wasn’t obvious by their draft battle plan. Tytus Howard and Max Scharping over the first three picks shows their path toward building a line for Deshaun Watson without microwaving the process in an absurd free-agent market (hello, Giants!). The number of hits and total sacks Watson took last year was astronomical, even after Bill O’Brien dialed back the designed runs.

Biggest question heading into the regular season: The Texans’ concerns were clear: Replenish the offensive line and the secondary without jeopardizing the present. This team’s window, especially with Jadeveon Clowney on a franchise tag (and potentially dangled as trade bait), is closing, so it’s fair to wonder if management was aggressive enough in its approach. Once Watson demands a second contract, and once J.J. Watt and Clowney cannot both be retained, rebuilding will get a lot tougher.

Best tweet of the offseason:


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

2018 record: 10-6

New players: Devin Funchess, Justin Houston, Spencer Ware

Players lost: Dontrelle Inman, J.J. Wilcox, Al Woods, Ryan Grant

In what areas did the team improve? The wide receiver group got incrementally better with the addition of Funchess in free agency and, especially, Parris Campbell from Ohio State in the second round. While the early pains of managing this roster were evident, it’s fun to see the supporting cast around Andrew Luck get markedly better each offseason. Campbell could be a menace in the backfield and the slot in 2019.

What areas still need help/what does the team still need to do? While their second round was fantastic, I think the Colts wish they could have made some more headway on the defensive line. Ranked as the team’s No. 1 need by our own Andy Benoit pre-draft, the unit lacks a little panache. That being said, Chris Ballard has been doing a great job of putting in place a solid infrastructure that develops players year after year. There’s a chance we learn something new about their defensive linemen in place this season.

Biggest question heading into the regular season: It’s a well-worn platitude to wonder if a team can make the leap, but I think this is a season where the Colts could legitimately put a stranglehold on the division and enter the playoffs as one of the top-seeded teams in the conference. Like, good enough to challenge the Patriots again special.

Best tweet of the offseason:


JACKONSVILLE JAGUARS

2018 record: 5-11

New players: Nick Foles, Chris Conley, Cedric Ogbuehi, Geoff Swaim,

Players lost: Malik Jackson, Donte Moncreif, T.J. Yeldon, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Blake Bortles

In what areas did the team improve? In the only way that counts: Quarterback. I thought the Jaguars’ desire to play a quarterback-agnostic brand of football during the QB drought of 2014-2016 was admirable, but they obviously held on to Blake Bortles too long. Nick Foles gives them one chance to rectify that, and save a roster that was built from scratch and maximized to win now.

What areas still need help/what does the team still need to do? Despite Josh Allen being available at the top of the draft, I still expected the Jaguars to select T.J. Hockenson with their first pick. Nick Foles needs a presence like that on offense, and while the addition of Chris Conley is underrated, it still leaves the offense a little lacking in big-time targets—a scarier proposition given how poorly Leonard Fournette’s 2018 went.

Biggest question heading into the regular season: What is Nick Foles outside of the Eagles’ offense? This is not to slight Foles in any way, but think back to his best seasons, with both Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson. In each case, the system was a step ahead of the NFL, which is a major leg up for an accurate quarterback who can run an offense. Jacksonville is more of a ball-control attack without the same caliber of receiver.

Best tweet of the offseason:


TENNESSEE TITANS

2018 record: 9-7

New players: Ryan Tannehill, Cameron Wake, Rodger Saffold, Adam Humphries

Players lost: Luke Stocker, Quinton Spain, Blaine Gabbert, Darius Kilgo

In what areas did the team improve? I think the Titans have their best backup quarterback of the Marcus Mariota era. Is Tannehill there for security, or is he there to push the former No. 2 overall quarterback, who is in a make-or-break season in Tennessee? Mariota’s weapon set has never been better with the Titans, so they’ll be expecting something beyond the pragmatic play we’ve become accustomed to from the former Heisman Trophy winner.

What areas still need help/what does the team still need to do? The Titans are imperfect, but still good enough to disrupt their division. They’ll be a consistently difficult opponent during the Mike Vrabel era, though it remains to be seen if the backfield combination of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis can cause enough mismatches for opposing defenses long-term, beyond the sizable power advantage Henry carries into a game when he’s in a groove.

Biggest question heading into the regular season: What becomes of Marcus Mariota? Sometimes progress is not rapid enough for teams, and the Titans could find themselves tempted to turn to the the draft if Mariota doesn’t work out. On the flip side, a monstrous campaign could also pose an interesting question for Jon Robinson, as the going rate for a franchise passer is hitting another milestone marker.

Best tweet of the offseason:

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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