Going into this years off season the Houston Texans knew that there would be a chance they’d lose some players that had been with the team for a long time. Both S Glover Quin and OLB Connor Barwin were both starters on defense and it was thought the Texans would keep at least one of them. As it turned out they didn’t keep either and also lost another player that started on the offensive side of the ball in FB James Casey as well. Even after all the losses the Texans staff still feels like they’re are a better team now, a team that has filled important spots to get them over the hump in the AFC and get them to a Super Bowl.
Ed Reed in, Glover Quinn out: Many Texans fans weren’t happy that S Glover Quin was allowed to leave for more money in Detroit. Quin was a very talented player who’s versatility made him able to play at the line of scrimmage a lot in Wade Phillips defensive scheme. And while I do think Quin was great at what Phillips asked him to do, I can say with confidence that no player in football is better then Ed Reed at knowing what an opposing offense wants to do. This is why Reed is such s great fit with the Texans. Reed is arguably the games best ball hawk of all time, and he’s goin to a team that routinely tips passes. To be more correct he’s going to the team that led the league in defenses passes. JJ Watt himself had more than many defensive backs. And another thing to remember is that the Texans did a lot of this without ILB Brian Cushing. Cushing is a very ball alert type player and will only help next season if he’s fully healthy.
Re-signing CB Brice McCain: As the year went on the Texans figured out who they wanted to play inside in nickel situations at CB. That man was Brice McCain. Many didn’t think that this signing warranted much attention but the simple fact is this before McCain got hurt against the Titans the Texans were 11-1, after they went 1-3 to finish off the season. In every one of those games the Texans lost because they failed to stop teams from moving the ball through the air. McCain was truly missed both times the Texans played the Patriots. McCain was vital to this team, he even played for Jonathan Joseph when he went out with a groin injury and did really well. With McCain back and healthy this season the Texans secondary should be on good shape against a pass happy AFC.
Texans bring in solid run blocking FB Greg Jones from Jags: Though the Texans offense didn’t seem slowed by it the team lacked an actual run blocking FB. After releasing Lawrence Vickers they decided to convert TE James Casey to FB, and while it had some benefits in the pass game the Texans really struggled at times in the red zone. Jones should make an immediate difference as a Texan as he did the past 2 seasons blocking for Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville. Jones fits the mold of former Texans FB’s Vonta Leach and Lawrence Vickers as big bodies looking for someone to hit on just about every play. RB Arian Foster finished the year with the league lead in TD’s and rushed for over 1,400 yards last season. But his yards per carry were down from the year before, a big blocker like Jones should help remedy that and put the Texans a step closer to their goal of a super Bowl.
Texans address special teams, bring in Lechler: Shane Lechler is without a doubt among the league’s best punters. Only player that can rival his kick power is 49ers P Andy Lee. In a league that’s so driven by offense now it’s more important to attempt to make teams go the length of the field to score points. Last season the Texans had problems with there special teams unit. They gave up a good amount of big plays off of punts ans kickoffs, and never had any success in the return game all season. Signing Lechler should help at least half of that problem. Last season Lechler got hurt, but playing for a team that’s not winning will do that to some. Not saying he tanked the season, I’m just bring honest. The Raiders gave Lechler the biggest contract any punter had ever seen 4 years ago. But after being on a losing team for that long Lechler needed a change of scenery. The Texans have one of the league’s most aggressive defense’s, and they’re hoping that Lechler’s boot will be able to force teams into tight spots all year long so that defense can make plays.
All in all I’m giving the Texans a free agency grade of a B+. I know free agency is far from over and that there are still moves to be made. I could see the Texans going after a veteran DT like Casey Hampton formerly of the Steelers. He’s a big body that could do exactly what the Texans need and that’s plug the middle while Watt and Antonio Smith rush outside. ILB is also a priority for the Texans and I could see them bringing back Bradie James for a second year. I could also see the Texans making a move on Shaun Phillips. The former Charger played for Wade Phillips while he was the defensive coordinator there in San Diego and could be looking for a change.