Houston Texans — 2021 Season Outlook

Brett Coomer/Staff photographer

History. The predecessor, Houston Texans, competed five decades ago in the now-defunct World Football League. Having no ancestral or other connection, the present version joined the American Conference of the National Football League as a 2002 expansion franchise. In the process, Houston’s former NFL operation, the Oilers, moved North to Tennessee and adopted the “Titans” as a team name. The Texans have rung up some measures of success at various times from 2011 through 2019. Six AFC South Division Champion banners now adorn their home NRG Stadium, a 72,220-seating capacity multi-purpose facility — anyone for a rodeo? — and the first NFL home venue to feature a retractable roof.   Yet in Houston’s nineteen seasons, it has yet to reach a Conference Title Game — now one of only four NFL teams never to compete in the Super Bowl. Following its solid 10-6 Division-leading 2019 campaign, Houston slumped badly to a 4-12 slate last season with its win total ahead of only Jacksonville in the 16 Team American Conference. The Management Group is headed by Janice McNair, heiress to her late husband, who is the founder and former owner Bob McNair. She and General Manager Nick Caserio face an uphill climb. 

Coaching and The Past Off-Season. January 28th of this year ushered in the arrival of David Culley to head up sideline patrols, replacing Interim Romeo Cannel. While lacking prior head coaching at any level, the 65-year-old Tennessee native and Vanderbilt graduate Culley has served six different NFL teams as an assistant devoted mostly to guiding wide receivers. The staff includes Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith, with Tim Kelly the lead Offensive Strategist. Clay Hampton stays on as Director of Football Operations, and Crennel has been retained as Senior Advisor, to the organization’s credit. 

The Recent Draft. For any 4-12 team, both the end of a regular season and the next player draft cannot arrive soon enough. Although only the Titans put up more than forty points per game on the Texans’ defense, the team ranked number 28 of 32 NFL squads. Efforts at trading the 2020 regular starting Quarterback Deshaun Watson have run aground from allegations of sexual misconduct, and even a pair of April Draft Day agreements supposedly negotiated between the Jets and Miami fell through. Thus, Houston was left off the “clock” until Round 3, when the 67th overall selection delivered Stanford Quarterback Davis Mills. Noteworthy among the remaining four was Garrett Wallow, a Linebacker out of Texas Christian who projects favorably in the Lovie Smith 4-3 defensive scheme. Post-draft opinions are mixed, averaging out to a Grade C overall consensus rating.     

Up Ahead. Preparations for the September 12th regular season (and home) opener vs. Jacksonville are underway at Houston Methodist Training Center. A shroud hangs over, as Watson has checked into Camp, accompanied by all troublesome behavioral issues, including his incessant demands for a trade. An observer has described this franchise as “in limbo” — the most optimistic assessment now prevailing.  

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