From two straight AFC South titles to last place in the division. What five players need to be better if the Houston Texans are to rebound this season?
What to make of head coach Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans these days? Winners of the AFC South in both 2015 and ‘16, a slew of injuries to some of their best players proved to be the club’s undoing this past season. From defenders J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus to quarterback Deshaun Watson, it just wasn’t in the cards for the organization. Throw in an inept offensive line and it added up to a 4-12 season, last-place in the division and currently owners of a six-game losing streak.
Of course we have seen quick turnarounds in the NFL and the traditional one or two teams that go from last to first in one year’s time. Look no further than the AFC South this past season, when the Jacksonville Jaguars captured their first division title since 1999 after finishing a dismal 3-13 and in the basement the previous year.
Even though the club did not have a first- or second-round draft choice in April (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering it was what was needed to grab Watson a year ago), the club still managed to draft eight players. Add in plenty of additions via free agency, most notably on the offensive line, and it sets the tables for a bounce-back year. So what five players must be better than they were in 2017 if O’Brien’s team is to make a run at the AFC South?
5. Lamar Miller
Perhaps the offensive line is a bit to blame. In two seasons with the Houston Texans, former Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller has played a total of 30 regular season games. He’s amassed 2,476 yards from scrimmage and scored 12 touchdowns. In 2017, he played in all 16 games and finished with 238 carries for 888 yards and three scores. One year earlier, he played in 14 contests and managed more rushing attempts (268), more yards on the ground (1,073) and ran for five touchdowns
Again, the Texans’ offensive front left a lot to be desired this past season. Houston does have a potential star in D’Onta Foreman but he’s still on the mend from a torn Achilles suffered in November. There have been significant changes on the line and that could mean a big year for Miller, who turned 27 years old in late April and still hasn’t totaled at least 300 carries in a season.