Mario Williams (Getty Images)
Before any team starts a season, there is always a handful of questions to answer. How will the quarterback play be? Will your top players stay injury free? Does your team have enough depth to overcome injuries?
There is seemingly an endless list of questions that coaches, fans and journalists alike will have about every team before a season begins. Usually, the more times you say “yes” the better. What really instills confidence though is when there aren’t even questions to answer.
The Texans have some questions, like any team in the NFL, but the questions this season appear to revolve more around health than talent, as Houston seems fit to compete. To further analyze how confident fans should be of the team, we’ll take a look at each position’s positives, lingering questions, and how the position should perform. We will follow this with an overall confidence level, running from 0-10, 10 being the highest.
Pressing Question: Can an end step up opposite to Mario Williams to supply some form of a pass rush?
Breakdown: Right now in the NFL, there’s Williams and then there’s everyone else. The once balked-at first overall pick has developed into the league’s premier pass-rusher, totaling 26 sacks in the last two seasons. The Texans will likely be toying with some 3-4 packages this year, but Williams can certainly hold up against the run as a 3-4 end, or he could even stand up and be a pass-rush backer in some situations. Antonio Smith was added as a free agent from Arizona and is ideal for the 3-4 and he could be the end the team has been looking for to team up with Williams. Shaun Cody was also added via free agency and should add depth as a 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end. In pass situations, rookie Connor Barwin could be a potential pass-rush specialist. Tim Bulman provided a spark last year as a rotational tackle and end, logging four sacks.
The Big If? If the team goes to a 3-4 a large portion of the time, Smith should compliment Williams perfectly and the two could become a very nice DE tandem.
Our Call: Williams will continue his dominant ways and help should be on the way. With all the aforementioned additions, the team has guaranteed that depth won’t be a problem and at least one player will step up across the line from Williams to help the Texans improve their pass-rush. A potential speed bump might be that the team doesn’t take to the 3-4 and if that’s the case, you have an over-sized end in Smith and are depending on a rookie (Barwin) to consistently get pressure.
Confidence Rating: 7