The AFC South has been one of the worst divisions in football for two years now. The Houston Texans have won the AFC South both seasons with back-to-back 9-7 records.
The biggest problem for the Texans is the lack of consistent quarterback play. The Texans started four different quarterbacks in 2015: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallet, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden. They started two more quarterbacks last season: Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.
Starting six quarterbacks in two years is not the formula to winning the Super Bowl, but they are really close.
Super Bowl Defense
Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. The Seahawks’ defense was so dominant four years ago that it led them to a 43-8 Super Bowl victory. The Patriots came up with a goal-line interception three years ago to the win the Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos had one of the best defenses in the NFL two seasons ago and shut down the top scoring offense to beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl. The Patriots came back down from 28-3 this past February to win the Super Bowl. That could not have happened if their defense didn’t shut down the high-flying Falcons offense.
The Texans have a defense capable of playing to the level of all these other defenses. Houston allowed the fewest yards in the NFL last season at 301 per game. They also allowed the second-fewest passing yards.
Houston also has the best defensive player in the NFL in J.J. Watt. He only played in three games last season, which makes what Houston’s defense did more impressive.
Watt is a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, which is tied for most all-time with Lawerence Taylor. Adding him back to the mix makes them an elite defense.
The Texans also finally saw the emergence of former number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who had six sacks last season. Clowney’s amazing play doesn’t show up in the stats. He constantly received double teams without Watt in the lineup, but still made plays. In the Wild Card game against the Raiders, he made an incredible interception that took over the game.
These two great defenders will make one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. The Texans also have one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL, headlined by Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus. If the secondary can make up for the loss of A.J. Bouye, they could contend for the best defense in the NFL.
What Is Missing?
It is no secret that the Texans need to improve offensively. Houston’s offensive line ranked 18th in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. They must improve both guard positions if they want to improve the overall line play.
Running back is not an issue of concern. Lamar Miller finished 10th in the NFL with 1,073 yards in just 14 games. Alfred Blue is also a solid backup to Miller.
The receiving corp is solid with Jaelen Strong, Will Fuller, and Braxton Miller, but headlined by DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has 189 receptions, 2,475 yards and 15 touchdowns in the last two seasons. Those stats are impressive with six different quarterbacks over two years.
It all comes back to quarterback play. The Texans are a quarterback away from being the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC. There is one quarterback perfect for the Texans that they need to get.
The Missing Piece
Houston threw millions at an unproven Brock Osweiler and it failed miserably. Osweiler has since been traded to the Browns and the only quarterbacks on the Texans’ roster are Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. These quarterbacks won’t even win the division, let alone a Super Bowl. So what should the Texans do?
The Texans could find a quarterback in the draft, but most analysts feel there are no NFL-ready quarterbacks in this draft. Free agency is always an option and Houston was hoping to get Tony Romo, but he retired. Jay Cutler is available, but that option could be just as bad or worse than what they already have.
That leaves only one option, a trade. The Houston Texans should go all in for a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers for Philip Rivers. The Chargers are nowhere close to contending for a championship and Rivers is 35 years old.
Rivers has accomplished a lot in his time in the NFL. His career record is 97-79. Rivers has 314 touchdowns, 156 interceptions and 45,833 yards.
By most comparisons, he is the AFC’s Tony Romo. Everything he has done of significance has come in the regular season. His playoff record is 4-5 and couldn’t get to the Super Bowl with Hall-of-Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson and future Hall-of-Fame tight end Antonio Gates.
This narrative could change with a trade to Houston. His career would be revitalized and he would have a three to four years to win the Super Bowl. He would have the necessary weapons to succeed; such as a running game and a top 10 receiver in the NFL. The Texans would have a top five defense and an offense capable of keeping pace on the scoreboard with any team in the NFL.
Houston, if you want to win the Lombardi Trophy, trade for Phillip Rivers.
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