Past the road: Texans might use playmakers like Le’Veon Bell – NFL Nation

HOUSTON — It’s straightforward to take a look at the Houston Texans’ shortcomings on offense in 2018 and blame the offensive line.

In spite of everything, second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson was sacked an NFL-high 62 occasions in 2018 and needed to play by accidents to his ribs and lungs after taking a success early within the season. And whereas head coach Invoice O’Brien — and even Watson himself — can be fast to say that not all of these sacks fall on the offensive line, the Texans want to verify they’ll higher shield their younger franchise quarterback.

Houston must — and can — take a tough take a look at the offensive sort out and guard market in free company, and it’ll probably use not less than considered one of its three draft picks within the first two rounds on an offensive lineman. However there are different holes the group wants to deal with on offense.

A type of is bettering the operating sport. Whereas the Texans definitely might go into the 2019 season with starter Lamar Miller and backup operating again D’Onta Foreman, who spent nearly all of the 2018 season on injured reserve whereas recovering from tearing his Achilles in November 2017, there is no such thing as a query there are upgrades out there on the place, both in free company or April’s draft.

Final season, the Texans ranked eighth within the NFL in dashing, however these numbers have been helped by Watson operating for 551 yards and 5 touchdowns. Miller had his finest season in Houston, operating for 910 yards and averaging four.6 yards per carry. However whereas he ran for 100 yards in a sport 4 occasions, he rushed for fewer than 50 5 occasions, not together with a Week 15 sport in opposition to the Jets when he exited early with an ankle harm.

The new matter across the NFL proper now’s the way forward for operating again Le’Veon Bell, particularly after the Steelers introduced they won’t use the franchise or transition tag to maintain him in Pittsburgh.

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The largest improve within the backfield that Bell would offer Houston could be within the passing sport. Miller caught 25 passes for 163 yards final season, and whereas these stats may not replicate his potential within the passing sport, they pale compared to what Bell can carry to the desk. In his 5 NFL seasons, Bell has caught not less than 75 passes thrice and hauled in a mixed 160 in his previous two seasons. He would offer a mandatory security blanket for Watson by the air, one that will be helpful if Houston’s offensive line play doesn’t enhance.

The Texans enter the offseason flush with cap area. With about $78 million at their disposal, Houston might give Bell the $15 million annual wage he wishes, signal defensive finish Jadeveon Clowney to a long-term deal and nonetheless manage to pay for to enhance the offensive line.

However these shouldn’t be the one issues on the Texans’ offseason to-do listing. Whereas including Bell would offer a lift to Watson and the passing sport, Houston additionally might use one other veteran receiver.

When wholesome, the Texans’ prime three receivers match up nicely with these throughout the league. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V are a dynamic duo out extensive, and 2018 third-round decide Keke Coutee proved succesful within the slot throughout his first season, catching 28 passes for 287 yards in six video games.

However whereas Fuller has been wonderful when he has been wholesome and has established a formidable rapport with Watson, the speedy receiver has had a tough time staying on the sphere in his first three seasons, enjoying in 31 of 48 regular-season video games since he was drafted by the Texans within the first spherical in 2016. Fuller’s absence, a results of tearing his ACL in Week 7 in opposition to the Miami Dolphins, was particularly felt within the playoffs in opposition to the Colts.

Whereas Demaryius Thomas’ torn Achilles hampered Houston’s playoff hopes, his influence wasn’t what was desired down the stretch when he was wholesome. Behind Hopkins, Fuller and Coutee, the Texans have been counting on unproven gamers resembling DeAndre Carter (primarily a punt returner) and undrafted receiver Vyncint Smith.

Houston additionally might use an improve at tight finish. The Texans’ prime three at that place — Ryan Griffin and rookies Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins — mixed for 61 catches and 745 yards. Thomas proved a succesful pink zone risk late within the season, however not one of the three stood out constantly. Griffin’s 24 catches topped the group.

In his second 12 months, Watson accomplished 68.three % of his passes for four,165 yards, 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The turnovers have been an enchancment over his rookie season, when he threw eight interceptions in seven video games.

Led by Watson and Hopkins, the Texans’ offense has proven flashes of how dominant it may be previously two seasons. The offseason enchancment begins with upgrading the offensive line. But when Houston can add one other playmaker on offense — maybe Bell or a prime receiver within the draft — the Texans could possibly be a favourite to take one other step ahead and be a critical contender within the AFC in 2019.

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