The Texans began Organized Team Activities (better known by their acronym OTAs) last week, and they continue this week. I gave you some observations after the session that was open to the media, and certainly there are many reasons for optimism, or at the very least, enthusiastic curiosity.
However, around the league, there are 13 teams that play the Texans this coming season that are hoping for BAD news out of Texans' OTAs and training camp. They want to see wire reports of Will Fuller's rehab from his knee injury slowing him down, D'Onta Foreman being out of shape, and the two rookie offensive line draft picks grasping the Texans' offensive the way an octogenarian grasps Twitter.
So, if turnabout is fair play, then let's counter attack, and figure out reasonable bad things to hope for with the Texans' 13 opponents this coming season. The only rule is that we will not be rooting for barbaric things like "Patrick Mahomes loses his right arm in a fishing accident." Rooting for injuries is bad mojo. So with that said, let's do this....
INDIANAPOLS COLTS: Oppressive hype
Aside from the Cleveland Browns, there is no NFL team entering 2019 with more of the front-running public backing them as a possible usurper of the Patriots' AFC crown than the Colts. Their general manager Chris Ballard is an offseason darling, even as he sits on over $57 million in cap space. Andrew Luck is second on the MVP odds board behind reigning MVP Pat Mahomes. Hopefully, the hype just becomes too much (because, to be honest, it's tough to find a ton of flaws.).
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Chemistry strife
You don't go from the AFC title game in 2017 to picking seventh in the draft after 2018 without some serious internal issues. Blake Bortles is no longer there, but Jacksonville still has some serious chemistry problems going on, with team president Tom Coughlin going after Jalen Ramsey for missing voluntary workouts and defensive leader Telvin Smith retiring out of nowhere. Nick Foles is a Bortles upgrade, but he's only ever been good as an Eagle, and they had to cut some of their team leaders just to make room to sign him to a $22 million per year deal. Here's hoping the house burns down again in Jacksonville!
TENNESSEE TITANS: Marcus Mariota sucking
Honestly, maybe the best thing for the Texans and the rest of the NFL would be for Mariota to show just enough to tempt the Titans into giving him a monstrous six-year contract extension. In lieu of that, we will take confirmation that he is, at best, a .500 starter, and maybe not even as good as his own backup, Ryan Tannehill.
DENVER BRONCOS: Joe Flacco sucking
The Broncos traded for the former Super Bowl MVP this past offseason, hoping that somehow a change of scenery will make us all forget that Flacco has been, statistically, one of the worst quarterbacks of this decade since said Super Bowl. The Broncos took QB Drew Lock in the second round. If there are rumblings that he's pushing Flacco for the starting job, things should be nice and dysfunctional in Denver.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Tyreek Hill banishment
As the authorities in Kansas City continue to fiddle around trying to figure out if or how exactly Hill was culpable in his 3-year-old son's broken arm, the NFL does its own investigation, and presumably will be handing down some kind of punishment. The longer, the better, if indeed Hill had anything to do with harming this poor kid. I would imagine any suspension will carry, at the very least, through the Texans-Chiefs game in Week 6.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Remaining invisible
The Chargers were 12-4 last year, and they may as well have not even existed in Los Angeles. They're one of the more talented teams in the league, but if they stay off the grid this preseason, then that should leave plenty of tickets for Texans fans to buy when they invade Los Angeles in Week 3. The less we hear about the Chargers, the better.
OAKLAND RAIDERS: Hard Knocks" chaos
It seems like a virtual lock that the Raiders will be this summer's Hard Knocks subject, and why not? Jon Gruden, Antonio Brown, the final season in Oakland... what's not to like? Let's hope this show reveals lots of internal strife and drama that keeps the Raiders at their requisite 6-10 level.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Receiver churn
For the first time since 2009, the New England Patriots enter the season without tight end Rob Gronkowski. The future Hall of Famer has retired (for now), so the Patriots enter the season with playoff hero Julian Edelman as their go-to wide receiver. Tom Brady's ability to raise the level of those around him n the passing game will be put to a major test in 2019.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: Lamar Jackson's slow development
The Ravens were able to ride Jackson's legs to a 6-1 finish and an AFC North divisional crown. Now, they find themselves behind the Browns and the Steelers on the divisional odds board, and much of that is probably due to skepticism that Jackson can last 16 games running the ball as much as he did. The second year man out of Louisville, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, will need to have polished his throwing this offseason. Let's hope for lots of questions about accuracy and arm strength in Ravens' camp!
ATLANTA FALCONS: Defensive issues persisting
The offense should be fine in Atlanta, but the defense was 31st in Football Outsiders' DVOA, so let the issues persist!
CAROLINA PANTHERS: Cam Newton's shoulder
I know I said we shouldn't root for injuries, but rooting for NEW injuries, and hoping that existing injuries just linger a little longer are two different things. (No REALLY, they are!) Newton is bouncing back from a shoulder injury, and the Texans play the Panthers in Week 4. Hopefully, Newton recovers fully around Week 5 or 6.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Drew Brees aging (finally)
Brees is now 40, an age that only Tom Brady and Warren Moon have fully conquered as a starting quarterback. There aren't many holes in this Saints team, so one developing with their most important player would be quite welcomed.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Jameis Winston's implosion
I think most people believe that new head coach Bruce Arians will be good for Winston's development, but let's be honest —- we are overdue for Winston to commit some sort of silly petty shoplifting or unwanted groping of another human being. It's been too long.
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