If the preseason is any indication, the Houston Texans won’t be an offensive juggernaut in 2015. In four preseason games, the Texans averaged only 18.5 points a contest and 295.8 yards of offense a game, including just 93.5 yards rushing. While preseason numbers are often hard to go by when attempting to predict the outcome of the regular season, the results still do not bode well for the Texans’ offense to start the season.
The Texans will receive a boost whenever Arian Foster is able to return from his groin injury, but for now the offensive backfield will be headed by inexperienced running backs. Quarterback is much the same, as Brian Hoyer earned the starting position after a prolonged quarterback battle with Ryan Mallett, neither of whom have a great abundance NFL experience. And aside from Nate Washington, Houston’s receiving corps is filled with young, albeit talented, receivers.
Houston’s offense will likely be a work in progress to start the season, but with Houston’s first four games coming against Kansas City, Carolina, Atlanta and Tampa Bay, the Texans can likely afford some inconsistencies on offense as long as their defense shows up. And that defense will likely have to carry the Texans to begin the season, if not for longer.
For the first time since early last season, the Texans will have defensive end J.J. Watt, cornerback Johnathan Joseph and linebacker Jadeveon Clowney all healthy and on the field at the same time when the 2015 season begins. Add in players like defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, linebacker Brian Cushing, cornerback Kareem Jackson, and safety Rahim Moore, and it’s easy to see why the Texans are expected to have one of the better defenses in the NFL this season.
But the necessity of the defense to perform well goes beyond just the expectations for the talent on the unit. The Texans will need their defense to win them some games this season.
Houston will face seven teams this season (including Indianapolis twice) who finished in the top 16 teams in total offense last season, including a four-game stretch late in the season when the team will face New Orleans, Buffalo, New England and Indianapolis. The back half of Houston’s schedule include those four games and games against the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets as well as division games against Tennessee and Jacksonville.
Houston cannot afford multiple defensive gaffes in almost any of their games, especially down in the second half of their schedule. Not with the offense the team will likely have.
Houston finished 2014 ranked 16th in overall defense and was especially good defending the run, giving up only 105.1 rushing yards per game, good for 10th in the league. But it’s the Texans’ pass defense that will have to step up in 2015 if the trends continue from 2014 for the teams they play.
The games against Atlanta, Indianapolis (twice), Miami, New Orleans and New England will likely feature a good amount of passing and will test Houston’s secondary. But if the Texans’ vaunted pass rush is as good or better than 2014, then the secondary will be helped out on the front end and have the pressure taken off them.
The Texans have built their team around elite players on defense, and they will need those players to live up to their billing this season if they want to make the playoffs. Houston’s preseason offense was less than stellar, and if those troubles continue into the regular season, the Texans will need their defense to carry the team.