To get a better understanding of what we’re facing, I linked up with Brett Kollmann of Battle Red Blog, the SB Nation community for Houston Texans fans.
Elephant in the room. It's been less than two weeks since we learned QB Deshaun Watson injured his knee and is done for the season. What is the real goal now for 2017? Is it just about reloading for Watson when he comes back, or are you guys still sincerely playing for something this year?
Honestly, the only goal left for this team in 2017 is to just not completely embarrass themselves on a weekly basis...which might be harder than you think. Watson is out, Watt is out, Mercilus is out, and Cushing is still suspended. Literally three of the team's four best players are all on injured reserve, and their former fifth best player was just traded away to the Seahawks. If everyone stayed healthy and stayed in the building (I'm looking at you, Duane Brown), the Texans would be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. They were that damn good when everyone was on the field...but it was too short lived for us to really enjoy it. 2018 may just be something special though...if the injury Gods are kind for once.
You guys made the playoffs last year with QB Brock Osweiler starting 14 games. Clearly, yall have plenty of talent around the quarterback position. But with five losses already and the most recent a home loss against a relatively weak Indy side, is the rest of the roster strong enough to carry yall into the postseason even with subpar QB play?
Last year was kind of a miracle because other than J.J. Watt, the team really didn't have any major injury issues on defense. A.J. Bouye was still on the roster and playing at an All-Pro level, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney were tag-teaming quarterbacks to death, and Benardrick McKinney asserted himself as one of the best young linebackers in the league. It was kind of an insane season, to be honest, but this year is different. Nobody is healthy, and nobody can make a play anymore when they absolutely have to. Brock Osweiler was carried into the playoffs by the rest of the roster, but now that roster is no longer there to carry Tom Savage. This is going to be a brutal second half of the season.
Under Head Coach Bill O'Brien, it's been the defense carrying the team. In 2014, yall were 7th in points allowed. In 2015, 7th again. Last year, 11th. This year? All the way down to 30th. And whereas last year the Texans had the best defense in the NFL in yards allowed, you're down to 20th by that metric in 2017. What's going on with the defense?
Everyone died. That's pretty much it.
What newcomers will Rams fans likely need to know of ahead of Sunday? Who's making an impact above where they were drafted?
Deshaun Wat...oh...right. Um...Ka'imi Fairbairn is looking like a pretty good kicker for us right now. If we're lucky, the offense might be able to cross the 50-yard line a few times and give him a shot at a field goal. That would be fun.
Big picture, is the franchise headed in the right direction? O'Brien's headed into a contract year in 2018. What does he need to do in order to earn that extension he didn't receive this last offseason?
The franchise is fine - the season is not. 2018 will likely see the return of the Texans as a legitimate AFC contender, but until then we're all bracing to watch some very, very bad football games. Bill O'Brien likely already earned his contract extension just based on seeing what Deshaun Watson could do in his system, so even if they lose every remaining game this season I would not expect his name to be on the hot seat. The players love him, and right now management doesn't want to do anything else that might piss off said players (again).
As for this week's game against a likely playoff team in the Rams...well...let's just say that I'm glad that I got my tickets to this one for free. Paying money for what I'm likely about to witness would be too much for me to stomach.
Thanks to Brett for the time.