When you bring in that many new faces, it means you've also shipped quite a few players off to other cities, or they've left of their own volition. The bottom line is that not only are there an inordinate number of former Texans dotting NFL rosters, but the Texans play against an extraordinary number of them during the upcoming season.
Some of the departures have juicier storylines than others, but there are enough former Texans for us to actually power rank the "revenge factor" that the Texan opponents, and specifically those former Texan players, may harbor when the two teams take the field. So let's take a look and figure out which games will be slathered in the most revenge feels.
I've constructed a power ranking, with a top five, below, but first here are the honorable mention opponents on the 2021 schedule. They don't crack the top five, because either their beefs with the team aren't that strong or their beefs are kind of old and outdated:
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Carlos Hyde
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Duane Brown
CLEVELAND BROWNS: Jadeveon Clowney
TENNESSEE TITANS: Ben Jones, David Quessenberry, Kendall Lamm
MIAMI DOLPHINS: Will Fuller
CAROLINA PANTHERS: A.J. Bouye
OK, now onto the top five:
5. NEW YORK JETS: Robert Saleh, Ryan Griffin, Shaq Lawson
When the Texans went looking for a new head coach this past January, they didn't even interview Saleh, despite (a) his being one of the top candidates on the market, (b) Saleh's being a favorite of Deshaun Watson, and (c) Saleh's status as a former Texans assistant. Ryan Griffin's checkered history as a Houston Texan was punctuated by his punching a window in Nashville when the team drafted Kahale Warring in 2019. Lawson was a Texan for a couple months until he was traded to the Jets a couple weeks ago after a horrific training camp. His reaction to the trade was to tweet this:
Woke up today feeling blessed🙏🏿 I can finally be myself up here— Shaq Lawson (@Shaq_Lawson90) August 31, 2021
4. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Great Tampering Caper of 2019
For the first time in a long time, other than Brian Hoyer on the practice squad, there are no former Texans on the Patriots' roster. However, given the presence of Easterby and Caserio, and the stench of the tampering allegation involving the Texans' pursuit of Caserio in 2019, there will always be some degree of vitriol between these two teams, so long as this cast of characters is involved in upper management.
3. BUFFALO BILLS: Brian Gaine, Taiwan Jones, Kahale Warring
Gaine was unceremoniously fired by the Texans just 17 months into his tenure as GM back in June 2019, and there have to be some hurt feelings still over that. Taiwan Jones was the hero of the Texans win over Buffalo in the playoffs in January 2020, and Warring is on his fourth team in literally two weeks as a member of the Bills' practice squad.
2. INDIANANPOLIS COLTS: Keke Coutee, Jordan Thomas, Julien Davenport
Coutee's release from the Texans is what gave me the idea for this post. For a talented player, Coutee's career as a Texan will go down as a combination of a huge "what if" — as in "What if Bill O'Brien didn't hate Coutee so much?" — an unrealized potential. It should be no shock that the Colts would pick him up, as some of Coutee's best performances came against the Colts. Jordan Thomas and Julien Davenport are also former Texan castoffs, who may have an axe to grind against their former employer.
1. ARIZONA CARDINALS: DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt
Do I need to go into detail here? I just want to go cry. October 24 won't be easy. That is all.
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