Is Bill O’Brien banking on too many injury-prone players with the Houston Texans?
Like every other team in the AFC, the Houston Texans need to get by the Chiefs to make it to the Super Bowl. The Texans were beating them by a wide margin in their Divisional Round matchup last year. Of course, Kansas City then took them to the cleaners for the rest of the outing, completing the comeback en route to winning the Big Game.
Head coach Bill O’Brien decided to fight fire with fire, adding more offensive firepower to the Texans roster in terms of speed and explosiveness.
Yes, he gave up DeAndre Hopkins but also traded for David Johnson, a running back with great receiving ability out of the backfield, and a couple of fast veteran receivers in Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks. His philosophy makes sense on paper but it’s not without risk.
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A few years ago, Johnson was the bell cow for the Arizona Cardinals. In fact, it seemed he was all the Cards had on their offense. He gained over 2,000 all-purpose yards in 2016 and ran for 960 yards while catching 50 passes in 2018.
His other three years in the NFL were less productive due to injury. And last year, he served as a reserve back once Arizona acquired Kenyan Drake. The heavy workload he carried in his good years caused him some wear and tear but the Texans medical team has given him a clean bill of health and they expect him to return to glory. Houston’s season depends heavily on that being correct.
Injuries at wide receiver have hurt the Houston Texans in previous years.
The Texans also have another issue with their receiver corps. This is not so much with their new, tested, receivers acquired over the last year. Cooks does have a history of concussions but the bigger problems lie more with their incumbents, Will Fuller and Keke Coutee, among others.
A former first-round pick back in 2016 out of Notre Dame, Fuller has the speed to be a proven deep threat for the Texans. He, however, missed three games in his first year, six games in 2017 and seven in 2018. Last year, despite missing five games, he caught 49 passes with a 14.5 average, showing how dangerous he can be when on the field.
Coutee has been a decent slot receiver with an average of over 10 yards per catch. In his first game in 2018, he set a record for a debut with 11 catches for 109 yards. Unfortunately, Coutee also has trouble staying on the field and has played in only 15 games over the last two years.
Tight end Kahale Warring showed some impressive athletic traits when he was taken on the third round out of San Diego State in 2019. NFL.com draft guru Lance Zierlein gave him a glowing review before the draft. Warring, however, spent the entire 2019 season on injured reserve following a concussion. The Texans expect him to compete in a very crowded field of tight ends.
In a quarterback-driven league, Texans should be able to repeat and make it to the playoffs because of the stellar play of Deshaun Watson. Making it to the Super Bowl will likely depend largely on the overall health of their offense, though, which is frightening given the injury history of many players they’re counting on.