SOTT Mailbag: How does David Johnson fit with the Texans?
Patrick D. Starr
The Houston Texans fanbase is still reeling from the exit of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the roster with a trade with the Arizona Cardinals. State of the Texans decided to a mailbag answering readers' questions regarding the organization heading into April.
Covering the topics of David Johnson, Kahale Warring, Zach Fulton, and a potential Deshaun Watson extension, there are plenty of storylines for the Texans starting the week.
State of the Texans Mailbag 3.30.2020
What role, if any, will Kahale Warring play this year? via @PaulMorg88
Just like last season Darren Fells returning to the Texans solidifies him to the starting role while Jordan Akins will continue his role as the pass-catching option in 11 personnel (three-wide receivers). That leaves Warring in direct competition with Jordan Thomas with whatever role is left at the tight end group. Last season, the Texans showed that they will keep four tight ends on the roster, and they could do that again in 2020. A leg injury slowed Kahale Warring during the start of training camp, and a concussion suffered in joint practices with Green Bay. Talent is not the issue with Warring; it's going to be about winning over the coaching staff when he hits the field with the team. He is going to have to win a role with the offense.
Any chance Clowney signs in Houston for a 1-year deal? via @DROBriant
That would be great, wouldn't it? The return of Jadeveon Clowney to the Texans would send everyone into a frenzy. Clowney still lives in the Houston area with his family and trains in the city too, but it is a long shot that it would happen. It doesn't feel like things ended well after a back and forth for a couple of seasons on a potential contract ending with a trade to Seattle, but bringing back Clowney would be one for the ages.
What are the chances we offer Watson his big contract before training camp starts? How much money do you think it would be? via @JJHOU99
The most significant factor is the Dallas Cowboys getting a deal done with quarterback Dak Prescott. That will help set the bar for Watson and the Texans. There is little incentive for Watson and his representatives to complete a deal without knowing what other quarterbacks are worth to their teams. Until Prescott lands a deal, it is hard to see the Texans and Watson moving forward on a deal.
As for a contract for Watson, we are probably looking at $37-40 annually, with nearly $100 million guaranteed. Our good friend TexansCap.com put together a mock deal for Watson, and it helps outline what a potential agreement would look like. (Read TexansCap.com Watson Deal Here)
Can BOB stabilize Watson and make him top 5 QB for more than 8 games a season? via @rz19842
Thanks for the question RZ19842,
That is a good question, and it compares to the chicken versus the egg conversation. Is it Watson, or is it the offensive gameplan. It will no longer be up to O'Brien to make Watson tick, and it will now be up to offensive coordinator Tim Kelly to improve the offense. Add in Kelly is the new quarterback coach for Watson, plenty of the responsibility falls directly on him for the upcoming season. Watson himself will need to improve on reading defenses, especially second level blitzes from the secondary and dogs from linebackers. He sometimes has trouble picking those looks up, and it has created pressure issues on Watson.
What's Bill O'Brien seeing in David Johnson? What's made him trade rather than just wait for a decent free agent to shake loose? via @randomdogname
There are a few things that occurred for David Johnson to be acquired by the Texans. It took Carlos Hyde to turn down a deal, DeAndre Hopkins to have contract demands the Texans were unwilling to meet and Bill O'Brien in all of his trades bring back a player that they feel have worth to their roster.
In this case, it was Johnson.
The Texans did not want to create two roster holes, and by landing Johnson, it gives them two backs in David and Duke Johnson that they feel can expand their offense every down.
Remember last season when Hyde was on the field, 16 passing targets in 526 offensive snaps. With Hyde on the field, it made the running back position a non-factor in the passing game, and they felt Johnson brings them two running backs that make the defense defend every offensive player on the field.
Last season, Johnson lined up in the slot for 67 snaps and during his All-Pro season in 2016 Johnson not only lined up in the backfield but he was able to line up in the slot (76 snaps) and out wide (121 snaps). His ability to move in the formation only expands the Texans offense with him on the field making the defense match up players snap to snap.
Right or wrong, getting a player back that can help their offense was a priority in the deal to prevent more roster issues.
I would not rule out another running back showing up via the draft or free agency.
Is RB still a possibility with one of the earlier picks? via @DBAMOS
With two second-round picks plus the third-round pick have some value to them, there is reason to think running back could be had later in the draft. The Texans have three seventh-round selections plus moves to land undrafted free agents post-draft.
Also, keep an eye on Karan Higdon Jr., who will be back in the fold after showing up to the Texans last season after injuring his knee training during the off-season. He had a strong ending to training camp and the preseason, which allowed him to spend the entire season with the team on the practice squad. Landing a reserve/futures deal at the end of the season, Higdon is one player to keep a pulse on heading into the off-season.
Out of our receiver pool, who do we think Watson will lean on the most? via @greekgodofhair
The grand plan would be to continue to make Will Fuller V the explosive playmaker he is, but with his injury history, it is hard to feel comfortable with that plan. My early guess a player like Randall Cobb could rake in the reception being the slot receiver with experience in the offense. It would be the first time a real slot player would be in the Texans offense since O'Brien took over in 2014. With how much 11-personnel the Texans like playing, it will leave Cobb in the middle of the field in Watson's sights to make plays. My early guess is that Cobb will be a catching machine in the middle of the formation.
Are the Texans relying on scheme changes to improve the defense? No new pass rushers have been added and waiting for the draft is a mistake imo via @keyfro
The best part of this is that your question is being answered on March 30th, 2020. This means that there are nearly four months until the season starts, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, the season timeline is up in the air for the start of the season. If anything, there is plenty of time for a free-agent signing, the NFL Draft, roster moves before week one even kicks off. The Texans need a pass rush to help their defense out, and that is the lifeline for any defense. What should not be overlooked is that the Texans are looking for growth from both Charles Omenihu and Jacob Martin the second year in the system and a possible bounce back from injury from Duke Ejiofor. Now, it will not hurt for the Texans to draft another pass rusher, but they have three younger players to add to J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the upcoming season.
Is it reasonable to expect a guard drafted in the second round to replace Fulton at RG do that we can let Fulton go and save his cap space? via @jeffshadwick
I think it is odd that most want Zach Fulton runoff for his "cap money," especially when finding continuity on the offensive line has been something that has escaped them over the past few years. Last season was the first time in a while that an offensive line has been a solid group, and pulling the plug on Fulton makes little sense to me. His cap space is not needed at the moment and blowing up the right guard just because it makes little sense at the moment. The Texans should be looking to make the offensive line their strength heading into 2020. With little turnover, they can go into the season with the group answered and ready to go working with Deshaun Watson again, improving on a promising start as a group in 2019. I would not rule out the Texans finding a way to land a guard for their interior, but it does not feel like a priority for the upcoming season with their starting offensive line intact and Fulton being a solid player at right guard.
Is Bill in the hot seat? via @CastellanoLip
As much as everyone wants to see Bill O'Brien gone, it is hard even to see that happening. O'Brien has to keep ownership privy to moves that are taking place, and unless he starts tanking in the win-loss column, that is what ultimately matters. O'Brien's three division titles are tied for the most by any active head coach in their first five years, and his 42 career victories stand as the most by any head coach in franchise history through their first five years. Wins and losses are what matter at this point.
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