A new season means a fresh start for every NFL team, something the Houston Texans will be looking forward to, given their 4-12 finish in the 2020 season. However, if Pro Football Focus is to be believed, then fans should get ready for a thoroughly sub-par offense in 2021.
In their recent rankings of all 32 positional units in the league, the Texans have come at or near the bottom at running back, receivers and offensive line.
To begin with, their opinion of Houston's (in recent years) much-maligned offensive line was relatively positive. They were ranked 20th overall and very nearly complimented ...
"Like many of the Texans’ offseason moves, they attacked the offensive line with volume," said Steve Palazzolo. "This should be a decent group after the unit finished 23rd in our final 2020 rankings."
They cited the arrivals of Marcus Cannon and Lane Taylor among others as reasons for optimism, going on to say: "The Texans should field a mid-tier starting offensive line to go with one of the better second units in the league."
However, this is where the optimism ends.
Houston's running backs were ranked 29th overallm despite their recent overhaul. Described by Steve Palazzolo as "perhaps the league’s most bizarre collection of veteran running backs," their recent additions of Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead clearly aren't much reason for optimism in his opinion.
That being said, there is one player who he feels should fare relatively well.
"Lindsay is the exception," said Palazzolo. "He can’t be expected to offer much as a receiver, but he was an underrated runner over the past three seasons for the Broncos. He ranks in the 87th percentile of all running backs in rushing grade since 2018. His reward is battling for snaps in a crowded running back room on what is expected to be the league’s worst team."
And the receiving options fared even worse, ranking dead last in the NFL. Brandin Cooks was, rightfully, praised for "legit speed, solid hands with only 29 career drops on 541 catchable passes and a history of efficient play in his seven years in the league."
But their lack of certainty elsewhere went against them.
"Like the rest of the Houston roster, the receivers are a big unknown," said PFF. "There are a plethora of options, and they’ll need the emergence of new stars to move up the rankings by the end of the year."
At the end of the day, predictions are just that. While many in the media remain pessimistic about the Texans, the simple fact is they have yet to actually put the pads on and either prove or disprove this theory.
Who knows? Perhaps rookie wide receiver Nico Collins will prove to be a hidden gem Maybe Justin Britt and Cannon will return rejuvenated and back to their best after a year out of the game, and so on ...
Optimistic? Absolutely. But what else do Texans fans have to cling to right now?