SOTT Mailbag: Don't forget about Charles Omenihu helping the Texans pass rush

Patrick D. Starr

The Houston Texans are heading to the 2020 season looking for help in their pass rush and in this week's State of the Texans, mailbag readers are wondering also. 

Discussing players like Charles Omenihu, Duke Ejiofor, the current defense and much more, this week's Texans mailbag is loaded with information and thoughts on the current roster. 

State of the Texans Mailbag (4.6.2020)

SOTT-Mailbag

(Charles) Omenihu's role in the next season ??? via @LaheraOskar

I don't think most realize how solid of season Charles Omenihu had for the Texans last season as a rookie.

Omenihu had 27 total pressures in just 41% of Texans defensive snaps. He was top five among rookies in 2019 in total pressures and 4th on the Texans, only trailing D.J. Reader (33), Whitney Mercilus (48), and J.J. Watt (55).

The development of Omenihu is key to heading into 2020. As a rookie, he was more of a situational pass rusher that needed work on his technique versus the run. The plan is for Omenihu to continue to build his game so he can be on the field more on the defensive line to keep him on the field. It starts with improving versus the run because he showed he has the tools to rush the passer. He will be vital for the Texans in 2020 especially getting to the passer.

As of now, who would be penciled in as defensive starters? @COtto_87

A quick rundown would look like this.

Base defense (3-4)

DL: J.J. Watt, Brandon Dunn, Tim Jernigan, Jr.

OLB: Whitney Mercilus, Brennan Scarlett

ILB: Zach Cunningham, Benardrick McKinney

CB: Bradley Roby, Gareon Conley

S: Justin Reid, Tashuan Gipson, Sr.

Defense in Sub (Nickel/Dime)

Star (Slot): Vernon Hargreaves III

Third Safety: Eric Murray

Cover L.B.: Dylan Cole

Sub Pass Rushers: Charles Omenihu (Inside) Jacob Martin (Outside)

I get that speed, ability to separate, and good hands are important skill sets for a receiver, but shouldn't "good route running" be so trivial as to be a complement only at a dog show? @HenrikBrandel

Of course, the optimal situation for wide receivers is to have the entire group of skills, route running, speed, and hands. Good route running is important with the ability to cornerbacks in the league.

For example, if receivers are rounding routes towards the sideline, it allows the defensive backs space to close on the football. If a receiver can cut sharp corners but putting their foot in the ground and break out, it cuts off the angles for defenders to get to the football.

Good route running is essential for an offensive scheme and maybe just as important as physical skill sets. If a top-end physical player can refine their route running, it makes for a solid combination.

With the addition of David Johnson and Duke will we finally get the RBs more involved in the passing game? @keyfro

This might come as a small surprise, but the running backs have been involved in the passing game during the O'Brien tenure. Before, it was spread out between Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue.

In 2019, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson led the Texans offense in touches per game. Hyde at 15.9 and Johnson at 7.9 while wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was at 6.9 touches per game. Hyde's numbers are inflated some due to the 245 rushing attempts. 48.4% of the Texans offense went through Hyde and Johnson in 2019, which is a significant indicator of how the offense is built.

David Johnson and Duke Johnson are going to get plenty of touches.

What do you think about a scheme change on the defense? Without a true nose, I can see the Texans go with Merc-Jernigan/Dunn-Watt-Martin in a 4-3 front. @theairjo

They have a true nose, Brandon Dunn. He is a solid run-stopper up-front. There are plenty of times over the past couple of seasons where they would rotate between D.J. Reader and Dunn up-front between lining up over the guard (2i or 3 technique) or over the center (0 or shade). Dunn is more than capable of playing the nose tackle.

Also, remember, the Texans can shift between 3-4 and 4-3 looks down to down. They are a bast 3-4 team, but they make sure they have the personnel to match up when needed.

Should extending or re singing Kenny Still be a priority? @Linn_Cooper

I think that is a good question. Here is one thing that stands out about Kenny Stills. Last season, Stills was the only player in the NFL to post at least 25 receptions while maintaining a yard per catch average above 14.0 yards in each season since 2013. Add in, his 10.2 yards per target were his highest since 2014 (11.2) when he was with the New Orleans Saints.

He will be 28 when the season starts and shows he still has significant play ability.

At this point, it makes plenty of sense for the Texans to start thinking about a one or two-year extension to keep him in the mix.

What happened with Jordan Thomas? Everything sounded promising last offseason, and now he's probably going to be competing for a roster spot with Warring. Also, why invest in Warring just to put him on IR and then make him compete for a final roster spot? Why not roll with the Jordans and Warring? @JavierJChapa1

Let's start with Jordan Thomas. A hamstring injury derailed him during camp and then the rib injury in the final preseason game. Injuries are one way to get passed up, and that left the door open for Darren Fells.

Buried on the depth chart during training camp, Fells was taking 3rd and 4th string reps, but when the injury happened to Thomas, Fells took over, and the rest is history. Heck, Fells even landed an extension this off-season due to his strong 2019 season.

Sometimes things fall into place for others while for Thomas, it all fell apart at once. He couldn't escape the injuries but that's football.

As for Warring, they signed Fells, who was a veteran depth signing, and Warring was the top of the draft board in terms of value. Talent is not the issue with Warring, but so much missed time with a leg injury and the concussion during camp made it nearly impossible to put him on the 53 man roster.

I wouldn't count out the Texans keeping four tight ends if needed due to Jordan Akins' ability to play fullback/H-back role. The Texans like Thomas, they brought him back late last season and put him right into the offense for three tight ends sets.

The Texans could keep the door open for a trade of Thomas if the deal is right. Right now, Thomas has the most value and most film out there for teams to evaluate.

Do you the Texans will draft a RB? Or alternatively, will we have 3 RB in the roster and actually use all of them? @rz19842

We know that David Johnson and Duke Johnson will be used, but there appears to be a need for a battering ram for short-yardage situations. That does not seem to be either Johnson's forte, and it shouldn't be, and I would expect the Texans to be looking for a big young running back for that role.

The Texans have Buddy Howell Jr. but expect at least another running back to arrive to help. Keep an eye on Karan Higdon, Jr.

How much do you think we can expect from Duke Ejiofor the coming season? I have heard very little about his recovery from the achilles injury. We need every pass rusher we can get. @Vdbdahl1

Ejiofor is healed and was with the team during the season and walking around the locker room. He took part in rehab to get back to where he needed to be. Like most injured players, they stay away from being interviewed and focus on getting healthy.

We all know Duke Ejiofor has to prove he can stay healthy. He is a good pass rusher, but even dating back to his Wake Forest days, he had multiple concussions and a torn labrum his final season, which caused him to miss the final five games of that season and the Senior Bowl.

That is part of the reason his draft stock fell. With the Texans, he has had a shoulder injury and now the achilles situation.

He is expected to be ready for training camp.

Do you think OB is content with the receiving corps as is, or do you expect him to draft a rookie with one of their 2nd round picks to compete for a starting job? @kaden_hvunt

I think the answer is both.

If the Texans had to play tomorrow, the Texans would be confident with Deshaun Watson throwing to Kenny Stills, Will Fuller, and Randall Cobb.

Adding to that previous thought, the Texans are focused on finding a compliment to the group from a loaded wide receiver class coming out in the NFL Draft. 

The 40th selection from the Cardinals we a key pick in the trade because the Texans believe that puts them in prime position to land either their next wide receiver or a potential pass rusher to help the roster. 

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