For the first time I can recall during this draft cycle, Gary Kubiak said something that actually may give fans hope for the team's draft strategy on the offensive side of the ball. I still firmly believe that there's just NO WAY the Texans will take an offensive player in the first round, regardless of who is on or off their board, but the following quote from Kubiak in John McClain's latest Chron.com article made my left eyebrow raise... in a good way:
"We want to get more explosive on offense," Kubiak said. "To go into this draft thinking we're OK offensively would be a big mistake. We've got some players who could be (free agents)."
Okay, so I'm overreacting. Maybe. This could just be another incident of Kubiakspeak, where he is stating the obvious, that every team needs to improve - even in the area of their strengths. Or, perhaps he's dropping a bigger hint? Can an offense get immediately more explosive with a late-round pick? Doubtful. A mid-round pick? With the right guy, sure thing. But of course, there's always...
Well, okay, but not really. I'd love for the Texans to buck the trend and draft Alabama WR Julio Jones if he's available at #11, and the top defensive prospects are off the board. Andre Johnson is aging, and struggled to stay on the field in 2010. The Texans' solid, but inconsistent offense would experience quite a drop-off without Johnson, and it couldn't hurt to get the ball rolling on his eventual replacement (though we know nobody's going to be as good as 'Dre).
John McClain, who you could easily often confuse with a Texans Public Relations rep, has maintained that Houston is very much in favor of keeping Jacoby Jones. Kubiak has said it himself, but I'm not convinced. Jacoby's future in Houston depends entirely on how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement shakes out. If rules are put in place that allow him to become an unrestricted free agent, he'll be playing elsewhere in 2011. If he ends up being a restricted free agent, he'll almost certainly stay here. That is, unless there's an insane team who thinks that 1 - Jacoby is ready to be a full-time number two WR, and 2 - that is in need of a number two receiver. Can you say Washington Redskins? I knew you could.
The Texans offense could use a significant improvement in the receiving corps. Kevin Walter took a step back last season. He's still a guy you can count on for maximum effort, good blocking, and excellent hands - he just didn't do much when he caught the ball last year. He didn't quite show the same knack for finding the seam as he used to, and his role figures to diminish further with a hopefully 100% Owen Daniels primed to recapture his Pro Bowl status.
Of course, the Texans have a great running game as the base to their offense. Arian Foster and the offensive line give Houston a chance to be dominant on the offensive side of the ball if they can remain consistent. Healthy? It's rare that teams stay healthy. It's part of the deal in the NFL, and "injuries hurt the team" is more of an excuse than anything else. You have to have good depth in this league. Sure, you can't fully account for a superstar or key loss (DeMeco Ryans), but teams must have the depth to stay in contention. If the loss of one key player is the difference in you making a run, then you already weren't a very good team to begin with. The injury-riddled Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers come to mind. Talk about depth.
If the Texans are looking to get more explosive on offense, it's pretty clear they have an upgrade at wide receiver in mind. While I doubt very, very seriously that it could ever be Julio Jones, perhaps an early-to-mid round prospect will be best. Free agency is obviously an option, but they're going to tie up a lot of money there on the defensive side of the ball.
Come on, Gary. Don't tease us. With all the defensive needs, I won't be mad at you if you pass on Julio Jones (because I know you're GOING to pass on Julio Jones), but think of how this offense could go from good but inconsistent, to great, with the right pieces... and coaching... and clock management... and...