Houston Texans Hoping for a Lovie Time of Things in 2022-23

Stability was in short supply for the Houston Texans last season, and that contributed to one of the worst campaigns in the franchise’s recent history.

J.J. Watt set sail for the Arizona Cardinals, head coach Bill O’Brien was shown the exit door and star quarterback DeShaun Watson did not play a single minute of football due to the off-field allegations made against him.

Naturally, the Texans were below par, and they spent the entirety of the 2021-22 season battling the Jacksonville Jaguars to avoid the wooden spoon in the AFC Conference.

But with Watson gone, a new head coach in place, and some interesting young talents in their midst, Houston could surprise the naysayers this term. They have the longest odds of any franchise – +25000 – to win the Super Bowl, and so backers should limit themselves to using offers like £30 in free bets to back the Texans. But the bottom line is that better things are expected from them this time around.

Lovie at First Sight

O’Brien’s replacement in the Houston hotseat, David Culley, lasted just one season before being shown the door, and in his place comes a veteran with Super Bowl experience.

Lovie Smith has twice been to the Bowl, first with the St Louis Rams as defensive coordinator and then as head coach of the Chicago Bears.

If there were any positives from the Texans’ 2021-22 season, it was perhaps in defense – they recorded a 3.1% passing interception rate, which was the fifth-best in the NFL, amongst some other eye-catching stats.

The man responsible? A tip of the hat has to go to Smith, Houston’s defensive coordinator who has since been promoted to the head coach role.

Whether the 64-year-old can oversee an immediate upturn in fortunes in the Texans’ form remains to be seen, but as a former Super Bowl champion who is regarded as an innovative thinker from a defensive perspective, Smith will surely be an improvement on what has gone before.

Cooking Up a Storm

The nature of the Texans’ off-season work – trading out Watson for three first-round draft picks – identifies a franchise that is building for the future around a core of young players.

And yet it’s a veritable veteran that will carry most of Houston’s fire this term. Brandin Cooks has proven himself to be a reliable receiver in years gone by, aided of course by working alongside the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees at his previous employers.

Any WR needs a strong quarterback to feed them quality ball, but even so, the 28-year-old had a solid campaign in 2021-22 despite the absence of Watson. Cooks’ work rate was outstanding – he was one of just 12 wide receivers to be involved in 130+ targets last season, and while that was out of necessity as much as anything else, the former All-American still performed with aplomb.

In seven seasons, he has gained over 1,000 yards on six occasions, and that’s an indication of a player with a high-performance ceiling.

If Smith can drill the Texans’ defense suitably, and Cooks can continue to power his team up the field, you never know Houston might not be the worst team in the NFL this season.