How Earl Thomas Would Boost The Texans
Anthony R Wood
The Houston Texans made headlines on Monday with the news that free-agent safety Earl Thomas was working out for Bill O'Brien's team. A Texas native, the seven-time Pro Bowler would bring experience and certain inherent respect to a Houston secondary that has yet to hit the ground running.
Currently led by free safety Justin Reid, the Texans' secondary has been churning through players yet again so far this season. Phillip Gaines, Bradley Roby, Eric Murray, Lonnie Johnson, John Reid, Michael Thomas (not that one) and A.J. Moore have all lined up alongside the third-year safety Reid through Week 3 this season.
As a defense, they have allowed 31.7 points per game, 29th in the NFL. Their lack of consistent starters and experience together has been a clear issue with miscommunications and freelancing the results.
A player of his stature and experience would raise the level of those around him, and give this Texans defense an aggressiveness and fight they have lacked at times.
Then there's his ability to change a game. Turnovers have been hard to come by for Houston this year with none for Anthony Weaver's defense thus far. Thomas has 30 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles in his career, and he has the athleticism to cover the width of the field; What Houstonian would say no to a taste of that right now?
Per PFF, Thomas allowed just 87 passing yards throughout the 2019 season while with the Baltimore Ravens. After making the move to join head coach John Harbaugh, they moved Thomas to strong safety where he compiled 15 quarterback pressures, a pass-rushing presence the Texans have been lacking from their secondary this season.
This ability in the box would make him a strong fit alongside Reid. The former Notre Dame star is excellent when given the freedom to wander in the backfield, and Thomas could provide the muscle upfront that their current safeties have lacked being able to consistently provide.
Thomas' run defense is a concern. PFF gave him a 53.2 run-blocking grade for last season and as such he wouldn't be the sole solution to their league-leading 565 rushing yards allowed so far this year.
Overall, Thomas would be an excellent acquisition. Yes, there are concerns about his personality. But he remains a three-time first-team All-Pro and was a Pro Bowler just last season. And at 31, he should have plenty left in the tank.
The Texans need to make a statement, they need someone who will bring an edge to this defense. Thomas would do that and more. He and Reid have the potential to be a powerful tandem in the Texans secondary, both excellent tacklers who could be moved around on this flexible Weaver defense.
He's a risk, and could he be an Ed Reed 2.0 signing for Houston? Perhaps. But without a doubt, he's a risk worth taking given the hole they are in. The Texans have nothing to lose.