I tend to be someone who tries to view the positive in people when I first meet them. With me, you normally start out with an "A," and have to earn an "F." That's probably a mindset that's worked to my detriment at times, but life is too short to be super skeptical of every person you meet, or in the case of watching my favorite football teams, evaluate as a player.
The last two seasons of Houston Texans football has been a time where my tendency to skew positive on people got me sideways with what was probably way too much enthusiasm for players that barely belonged in professional football. I think the Texans in 2023 have way more guys to get justifiably excited about than they did in 2021 or 2022.
However, it is time to confess — here are six names that I irrationally sold myself (and unfortunately, others) on as the Texans embarked on the last two horrific seasons of football under David Culley and Lovie Smith:
2021, ANDRE ROBERTS, KR
Roberts was Nick Caserio's first signing in free agency as the GM of the Houston Texans. I was excited about the Texans getting a Pro Bowl caliber return guy. This felt like astute recognition of how good special teams would need to be, in the absence of really anything else good about the 2021 Texans. Unfortunately, Roberts was a huge disappointment in 2021, as a Texan, and was cut two months in. Even more frustrating, Roberts would sign with the Chargers, and average 33 yards a kick return for the rest of the season, and actually garner some All Pro votes.
2021, SCOTTIE PHILLIPS, RB
In 2021, the Texans entered training camp with a likely offensive backfield of Phillip Lindsay, David Johnson, Mark Ingram and Rex Burkhead. Man, that was painful to type, let alone relive in my head. It was actually logical to get excited about a running back, ANY running back, who wasn't a run-down, washed up, old head. That particular youngster happened to be Phillips, who actually made the 2021 team as a fifth running back, and got a grand total of six carries for 13 yards. He's been out of football ever since.
2021, KEVIN PIERRE-LOUIS, ILB
As the Texans were trying to cobble together some semblance of respectability on defense in 2021, after the horrific 2020 that got everybody fired on that side of the ball in Bill O'Brien's last season, the strategy seemed to be "Hey, let's find a bunch of journeymen, give them one-year deals, and see what sticks!" It's worked with a few of them — Desmond King, Maliek Collins, Tavierre Thomas. It was a complete bust with many others, including Pierre-Louis, whose 11 starts for Washington the year before had me thinking he was Ray Lewis or something.
2021, JUSTIN BRITT, C
How bad did the selling to myself on bad players get in 2021? I was sucked in by Britt's glib personality at press conferences so badly that I ignored the fact he hadn't played football since the 2019 season. Britt was a disaster, and yet was brought back in 2022, before leaving the team for personal reasons after one game in 2022. To my knowledge, said "personal reasons" have not been revealed publicly.
2022, ENO BENJAMIN, RB
In 2022, the Texans' running back room was better, but the improvement was entirely embodied in the bundle of thunder and lightning known as rookie Dameon Pierce. Rex Burkhead was still part of the rotation, and that was painful to watch each week. So when the Cardinals waived Benjamin midway through last season, and the Texans picked him up, I thought "Awesome! Benjamin! He's actually had good games sometime this decade! Unlike Burkhead! YES!" Well, Benjamin's arrival in the building equated to zero change, and he wound up back on the unemployment line after four weeks with just three carries for a single, solitary yard.
2021-2022 – any of the random stiffs who had like 8 sacks in a season sometime in the last four seasons elsewhere, such as JORDAN JENKINS, MARIO ADDISON, RASHEEM GREEN
Okay, admittedly, the sixth name on this list is really a combination of names. As the Texans tried to piece together a pass rush in the post-J.J. Watt Era, it seemed like their approach was to sign as many "journeymen who'd had more than five sacks in a season once or twice in their careers" as possible. So this final bullet point is an ode to my irrational and inexplicable excitement for the likes of Jordan Jenkins, Mario Addison and Rasheem Green. Thank you for not taking fellow aging pass rusher Jerry Hughes into the sinkhole of failure into which you all plummeted. I like Hughes, and unlike everyone else on this list, it feels justified!
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