With the draft done and dusted and kickoff a few months away there is a sense of excitement as the NFL pre-season draws near. It could end up being a historic year in Texas with the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys looking at the possibility of being the top dogs in the AFC and NFC, here is a preview of their run up to the season.
The Texans were synonymous with rush defense last season. Ranking top in the NFL with just 306.5 yards allowed per game. They also came second in passing defense with just 203.5 yards per game. All of these figures with injuries to defensive stalwarts like J.J. Watts, Kevin Johnson, and in their win against Jacksonville, did without three more defensive starters (Whitney Mercilus, Jonathan Joseph, John Simon). With these statistics in mind it’s a no-brainer the Texans focused on improving their offense instead.
We saw a bold move in giving up two first round picks to get Deshaun Watson as a future Quarter Back. With promises that Tom Savage remains first string, there is a look to the future as Watson looks set to be his replacement. Watson, while very skillful outside of the pocket, is thought to need a season or two to settle in. If either Savage or Watson can perform as good as or better than Osweiler’s performance in 2016 along with their impressive defensive record, the Texans look destined to make it to the deep end of the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys are the mirror opposites of the Texans with a poor pass rush last season. It isn’t just last season with the Cowboys recording single digit sacks 2016, 2015, and 2014. Their last player to record double digits sacks was Jason Hatcher in 2013. Benson Mayowa had six last season, and Demarcus Lawrence had eight in 2015. To rectify this the Cowboys went with Taco Charlton in the first round. Charlton impressed at Michigan last season with 9.5 sacks in his first season as a full-time starter. Many fans called Charlton’s draft with the Cowboys due to their history of picking prospects who visit and meet with the coaching staff. Only Ware and Claiborne were picked without visiting the Cowboys in over 10 years.
Whatever your view on picking Charlton in the first round, it worked to their advantage, with the capture of Chidobe Awuzie in the second round. Hailing from Colorado, Awuzie plays CB and recorded some impressive statistics last season. Even with a selection of quality Cornerbacks to choose from the Cowboys had their sights set on Awuzie. While some might point out Tankerley’s record on interceptions Awuzie is a well-rounded defender. Only three interceptions last season belie his 26 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and 35 pass deflections. Awuzie has proven himself to be a resilient and intelligent defender and the Cowboys did well to stick to their guns.
While the Cowboys offense didn’t set the scoreboard ablaze, their holes in defense required drafting in the back line. They lost four players to free agency, two cornerbacks and two safeties, so it’s no surprise they went with three defensive picks in the first three rounds. What is exciting to see now is how a newly revamped Cowboys defense will fair in 2017 and if the offense will be buoyed by their counterparts and drive on to the playoffs.
Football in Texas is more than a sport, it’s a way of life. The anticipation of the season kicking off has us all coming down with some serious football fever! It’s almost here folks, as I drive through town I see the youth league teams conditioning, high school 7 on 7 is wrapping up, college and pro players are readying themselves to report to training camp and we’re planning for fantasy football glory.
It’s like the lion said when he got a hold of the monkey’s tail…it won’t be long now.
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