Houston Texans: Analyzing Depth after Preseason Game 1
By Jonathan Fisher
Special to Pro Football Guru
On Thursday night, the Houston Texans hit the field for the first time in eight months and faced the Kansas City Chiefs as both teams got their 2018 preseason under way. This provided a chance to see the backups in action, which could potentially be more critical than one would think.
A year ago, the Texans saw 23 players on injured reserve by season’s end. They saw starters go down, as well as many of the backups. There were multiple times where the team was forced to get creative with their packages due to lack of healthy players at different positions. Eventually the team began to bring practice squad players in to start games, only to see them go down and make their way to the IR list as well.
“Next man up” was the mantra for this club. However, it got to the point to where there wasn’t a next man to fill the ever-growing holes on the team.
Lack of quality depth can turn a team from a Super Bowl contender, to a bottom-dwelling mess in an instant. A good back-up can be the difference between a win and a huge loss. One would have to look no further than Super Bowl LII as reserve quarterback Nick Foles led the Philadelphia Eagles to a stunning win 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots.
The Texans, who came away with a 17-10 victory, face many issues early on with their lack of depth at key positions. Most importantly, what Thursday night’s showing revealed was that the team appears to be much-improved from a year ago. The biggest area of focus centers around the team’s tight end group. This position took the biggest hit this offseason with the retirement of C.J. C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussions).
So who will be the starter in Week 1? Ryan Griffin is the favorite to land the spot, but after him things become a bit questionable. One of the more intriguing prospects in 2018 fourth-round pick Jordan Akins, who caught two passes for 20 yards and two touchdowns. His height and size became a huge problem for anyone that the Chiefs used to cover him. He appears to have a great chance to take the number-two spot on the tight end depth chart and could challenge for starting duties.
The only other issue is likely the most obvious: The offensive line. Starters such as center Nick Martin and guard Zach Fulton saw 10 pass play snaps and gave up zero pressures. The rest of the line looked decent as well, not allowing a single sack on the night. They were far from perfect, but nonetheless were impressive. There were still instances where pressure was given up quickly, leading to hurried and misplaced throws. This is an issue that needs to improve as the preseason progresses.
So far, the Houston Texans appear to be much-improved from last season thanks to better depth. Things are looking up for this team, who look to reclaim the title as division champions of the AFC South. Who knows what the future will hold, but if last night was any indication, the Texans could be looking at a bounce back campaign.