The Houston Texans invested significant draft capital into their offensive line by drafting Tytus Howard and trading for Laremy Tunsil, but their early return on investment is quite poor.
Ever since they traded Duane Brown to the Seattle Seahawks when their one-time star tackle was in the midst of a holdout, the Houston Texans have had offensive line issues. The Texans thought they fixed their line this offseason by adding several new starters, headlined by their trade for Laremy Tunsil days before the season, but the unit looked terrible on Monday Night Football.
The New Orleans Saints racked up six sacks on Deshaun Watson, and the star quarterback was running for his life for most of the night. Watson got pummeled early and often in the Superdome, and to his credit he still completed 20-of-30 passes for 268 yards with three touchdowns against just one pick, including a last minute score to Kenny Stills that would have been the game-winner if the Texans’ defense could’ve held.
Even with that being the case, the Texans’ line is still a major problem, and it could be the undoing of their season even with the AFC South being eminently winnable after Andrew Luck’s retirement. Watson is without a doubt the best quarterback in that division, but if he gets beaten to a pulp behind a suspect line the Texans won’t be going anywhere in 2019.
The good news for Houston is that it is still fairly early in the year, and the late addition of Tunsil means that the current starting five have had very little practice time together. Chemistry is very important along the offensive line, and that is something that should be built as this group gets more reps in practice and game situations over the coming weeks.
Houston has to hope that Watson is able to stay upright while the linemen learn to work together and get into a groove, because his play style doesn’t exactly mesh well with a shaky offensive line. Watson likes to extend plays and take risks in search of huge rewards, and that will lead to him taking a lot of unnecessary hits already, so a leaky line exacerbates the problem.
The Texans need to try and get the message across to Watson that he needs to be smarter with his body while the line gels, and this is a massive issue for the presumptive AFC South favorites.