Texans: Can They Win If J.J. Watt Is Not Healthy?

Aug 22, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans mascot Toro takes the field prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 22, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans mascot Toro takes the field prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texans have made what seem like significant upgrades this offseason, which have fans expectations high for the upcoming season. With this being said, almost all of the attention was paid to the offensive side of the ball and the team’s biggest star J.J. Watt has gone under the knife seven weeks before the season opener. Do the Texans have the firepower to weather this storm and deliver the deep playoff run that the fans have longed for since 2002?

Obviously, the answer to this question depends heavily on the health of J.J. Watt and his ability to deliver the type of dominant performances to which the Texans have become accustomed. He went into surgery on last Tuesday to repair a herniated disc which was sustained during his intense offseason workout regimen. According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the doctors said Watt could return in time for the season opener against the Bears on September 11th  barring setbacks during his rehabilitation. McClain also warned that no one can truly predict the outcome of such an event.

The scariest thing about this situation is that the Texans have been on the wrong side of murphy’s law many times throughout their short existence. Injuries have definitely played a large part in this and an injury to the face of the franchise could prove to be debilitating to the teams ability to deliver a productive 2016-17 season. As early as last year, Bill O’Brien had to deal with the loss of Arian Foster and Jadeveon Clowney who was the first pick in the draft two years ago.

Considering the circumstances, the Texans played well in stints and slid into the playoffs with the hopes of advancing. Unfortunately, the offense was stifled and we lost to the Chiefs 30-0 at home in the first round. Much of this was due to the ineptitude of Brian Hoyer including his four interceptions and two fumbles. The defense was on their heels early and could not recover.

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This certainly influenced the decision to beef up the offense and the front office answered the call by upgrading the quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions. The Texans added Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller, Will Fuller and Braxton Miller which should definitely improve our ability to move the chains.

With this being said, the defense has been the most solid unit of the three over the last few seasons and a lot of this success can be attributed to J.J. Watt. His pass rushing helps the secondary and his run stopping ability assists the linebackers in their duties. Any lost time would undoubtedly cause the unit to be less effective and our defensive prowess was responsible for a lot of the success that we encountered last year.

Can the new look offense help by keeping the opposing teams offense off the field? Let’s hope so. I feel that Osweiler can significantly reduce turnovers and do a better job at picking up key first downs than his predecessors, which would help out quite a bit. I also feel that Lamar Miller represents and upgrade over the running back by platoon situation that we were forced into last season. If these predictions come to fruition, the Texans may be able to handle a short stint without their best player.

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Overall, the city of Houston is praying that J.J. Watt recovers from back surgery without complication and is ready to play week one against the Bears. If this is not the case, we can hope that his teammates on both side of the ball can shoulder some of the greatness that he demonstrates on a weekly basis. Our season definitely depends on it.