Predicting anything to do with the Houston Texans, when it comes to positivity, has been less than simple over the past few months.
The scandals, hirings, firings, and more have raised more than a few eyebrows in 2021. With this lack of predictability in mind, can Houston's record be successfully predicted? Recent trends would suggest no. But, Pro Football Focus has given it their best shot regardless in a recent article that predicts the best and worst-case scenarios for every NFL team.
Having finished the 2020 season 4-12 was in itself, not the worst-case scenario given the amount of instability they had to deal with both on and off the field.
Sticking with worst-case scenarios, PFF has surmised that for Houston in 2021 that would mean a 3-14 finish.
Considering many analysts have suggested the Texans could become the first-ever 0-17 team in NFL history ... 3-14 isn't the end of the world.
And how would Houston get to this outcome? Well here's what PFF had to say:
Things are even bleaker than they currently appear. Davis Mills quickly replaces Tyrod Taylor because Houston needs to evaluate the rookie before the 2022 NFL Draft. Mills doesn’t appear to be the answer at quarterback as pre-draft concerns over his lack of mobility, decision-making and lack of experience only gain validity. The Texans defense doesn’t have the talent to run defensive coordinator Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 scheme, either. Notably, a defensive line that collectively ranked dead last in PFF grade last season (47.0) only gets worse after losing J.J. Watt.
Ouch. But, it isn't all doom and gloom.
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A few wins for a team with as many new players as the Texans currently have, along with a first-time head coach and rookie QB, is an OK base for the team to build upon with high draft picks to work with in 2022.
In keeping with this blindly optimistic view of the Texans, PFF suggests that the best outcome for Houston would be an 8-9 record.
The combination of Taylor and a crowded running back room gives the Texans a surprisingly competent rushing attack. Buffalo ranked third in EPA per run play with Taylor at quarterback from 2015 to 2017. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks quietly puts up another 1,000-yard season at wide receiver.
The offseason additions of Desmond King and Terrance Mitchell help provide some more stability at the cornerback spots alongside Bradley Roby on defense. And young players along the defensive line, such as Charles Omenihu (52.1 PFF grade in 2020) and Ross Blacklock (30.2), take a step forward.
Given that in theory, the Texans have upgraded the interior of their offensive line this offseason with the additions of Marcus Cannon and Lane Taylor amongst others, suggesting that their run game could carry this offense isn't an unrealistic suggestion.
Also, with Mitchell and King, both arriving to bolster their secondary should again, in theory, be an upgrade on one of the team's biggest weaknesses last season. Combine them with a returning safety duo of Justin Reid and Lonnie Johnson, who now has a year under his belt at the position after moving from corner, should solidify their defensive backfield further.
The defensive line is a tough one to predict given their new scheme, so the very few returning players they have means it really could go either way. They could be far more solid than in 2020, or the lack of continuity and experience alongside one another could be their downfall.
At the end of the day, either a 3-14 or 8-9 season wouldn't be the apocalypse many have predicted from the new-look 2021 Texans.
If nothing else, their unpredictability should at least mean there will be plenty to talk about this year.
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