This seems to be the battle cry when it comes to fans talking about the wide receiver opposite of Andre Johnson, "but he is a good blocking wide receiver". Unfortunately for Houston Texans fans and their offense, it sometimes seems acceptable NOT to have a wide receiver that has game breaking ability. I enjoy the idea of having a possession wide receiver in offense but they have to either be a touchdown machine or command some defenders when they are on the field.
The Texans, like we all know, are deficient at the wide receiver position despite having a top one in Johnson on the roster. Now don't get me wrong, while Kevin Walter is a great compliment to Johnson when they are in the lineup together, Walter's lack of play making abilities are hidden playing second wide receiver. Case and point, in 2011 when Johnson went down with his hamstring injuries Walter never established himself as the go to guy in the passing game. Walter was just another guy on the field and his skill set has diminished over the years and poses no real threat on offense. Blame it on the lack of targets, T.J. Yates, the running game or whatever the excuse may be, the fact is that Walter and other wide receivers who suited up for the Texans were not very good.
Texans 2011 Wide Receiver Stats
7 games | 33 receptions | 492 yards | 2 touchdowns | 14.9 yards a reception | 70.3 yards a game
15 games | 39 receptions | 474 yards | 3 touchdowns | 12.2 yards a reception | 31.6 yards a game
16 games | 31 receptions | 512 yards | 2 touchdowns | 16.5 yards a reception | 32.0 yards a game
15 games | 6 receptions | 90 yards | 1 touchdown | 15.0 yards a reception | 6.5 yards a game
7 games | 4 receptions | 55 yards | 0 touchdowns | 9.2 yards a reception | 7.9 yards a game
2 games | 1 reception | 9 yards | 0 touchdowns | 9.o yards a reception | 4.5 yards a game
This possibly could have been the worse wide receiving group in the NFL in 2011, talent wise and production, and we understand that having then rookie T.J. Yates controlling the offense numbers were skewed for the team. The Texans wide receivers accounted for 40% of the team's total receptions, which ranked dead last in the AFC South (Jaguars 50%, Titans 54%, Colts 66%). With Matt Schaub, the Texans the past two seasons had the wide receivers getting the bulk of the receptions (2009-56%, 2001-55%) so not having the veteran quarterbacking was an obvious issue.
Teams and fans should want their receiving group to be skill players who can threaten defenses with or without the ball. Defenses are able to single up on the Texans wide receivers opposite of Johnson and commit more players to the box. Without that threat to keep secondaries honest, they can stack the box with safeties to slow down the running game. Which makes the running game of 2011 that much more impressive without any true threats on the outside, after Johnson was absent from the offense. Just think if the Texans were able to turn the wide receiver opposite of Johnson to any type of threat on offense, guys like Arian Foster, Owen Daniels and James Casey could have even bigger seasons. Foster, Daniels and Casey will more times than not win their one on one matchups but there has to be a concerted effort to get wide receivers in the depth chart to be real threats in the offense.
Last season showed what the receiving group looked like without Johnson and the Texans should not chance that again. With Johnson's injury history, the Texans look to have started the process of correcting this issue from last season by drafting two wide receivers and now putting some stock into second year wide receiver Lestar Jean. This season's group should have more potential than the 2011 season's week 1 group in Johnson, Walter, Jones and Bryant Johnson, and the early signs look like the Texans could possibly take five wide receivers into week 1 against the Miami Dolphins.
It is a reality that the Texans' fan base has to get passed the "Good Blocking Wide Receiver" thought process and move on to wanting more than one real threat at wide receiver. Yes, Kevin Walter may have caught the most important touchdown in franchise history but the fact remains he is an average wide receiver in the NFL, at best. We can point fingers at whoever, but the wide receiver group of the Texans is probably the weakest position group of the team. When you have one of the best in Johnson, there was time to strengthen other positions along the way with picks and signings. Now the time has run out and the Texans are now left scrambling trying to fix the issue with a crop of young and unproven players.
The Texans have to play that game of building for the future with this season in mind, but looking at the young group in Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey and Jean, without catching a NFL pass or having any real time in the NFL, they are already a better looking group than last seasons. The growing issue for fans is the fact that rookie wide receivers may be getting some important snaps for the 2012 season which possibly could cause issues for the offense if they do not get acclimated to the NFL game speed soon enough. It could be an issue for the offense but rookies have to start somewhere and that time appears to be now.