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Texans In AFC Title, What A Difference A Year Makes

Landry Locker
November 07, 2018 - 11:07 am

What a difference a year makes for the Houston Texans.

Regardless of how far you think this team can go in the playoffs and what reservations you (or I) may have about Bill O’Brien as a championship-quality coach the Texans are currently in a MUCH better place than they were at this point a year ago.

Heading into their tenth game of the 2018 season the Texans are 6-3, in first place in the AFC South and relatively healthy. At this point last year the Texans were 3-6, in last place in the AFC South and one of the unhealthiest teams in the NFL.

What made last year even worse is the team didn’t have a first or second-round pick in the draft, which meant fans couldn’t find a silver lining in being one of the worst teams in the league. In the next draft, Brian Gaine will have a full draft (minus the fourth-rounder traded for Demaryius Thomas), including two second-round picks, which is exciting given how well he did in last year’s draft with limited assets.

Prior to their Nov. 19, 2017 matchup with Arizona the last-place 3-6 Texans had 11 guys on IR including: Christian Covington, Ryan Griffin, Whitney Mercilus, Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt. Will Fuller, Julie’n Davenport, and Dylan Cole were also listed as OUT for the game.

By comparison, the 2018 6-3 first-place Texans currently have just three key-contributors on IR: Dylan Cole, Will Fuller and Seantrel Henderson. They also have guys expected to make their returns after the Bye week in Washington including Jonathan Joseph, Aaron Colvin, Keke Coutee, Zach Cunningham and maybe D’Onta Foreman.

So how far can this Texans team go?

That will depend on health and the two most important members of a football team, the coach and quarterback.

I believe Deshaun Watson will one day be a championship-quality quarterback, but I’m skeptical Bill O’Brien can be a championship-quality coach.

I hope I’m wrong about O’Brien and he makes me look like a fool, I really, really do. Despite what O’Brien might think I know it’s hard to win in this league, 15 teams currently have a losing record in the league and just 13 have more wins than losses. I also know it's easier to win when you have a good quarterback.

Bill Belichick started his coaching career 36-44 and has made a lot of doubters look foolish since. If O’Brien evolves into a top-tier head coach I'll gladly eat the crow, but even if he doesn’t that doesn’t mean the Texans can’t make a run in the postseason.

Why couldn’t the Texans make an appearance in the AFC Championship in 2018? Average head coaches have led their teams a game away from the Super Bowl in recent years.

Chuck Pagano made an AFC Championship game, Jason Garrett was potentially a Dez Bryant non-catch away from making it to an NFC Championship and Rex Ryan led the Jets to two AFC Championship games.

Can Watson overcome O’Brien the same way Andrew Luck did Chuck Pagano and Tony Romo did Jason Garrett? Can the defense carry the Texans the way the Jets did under Ryan? Or, could Bill O’Brien take the next step as a head coach and shut people like me up?

Who knows? But, one thing is for certain; things are way better nine games into the 2018 season than they were in 2017.

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