Fred Faour: Texans play another close one against a superior team. But is this really progress?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Christian Smith/AP/Shutterstock (13091613g) Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio before an NFL preseason football game against the New Orleans Saints, in Houston Saints Texans Football, Houston, United States – 13 Aug 2022

Fred Faour: Texans play another close one against a superior team. But is this really progress?

The Texans’ lost season continued with another tough setback to a superior team, this time the Kansas City Chiefs, who all but converted NRG Stadium to a Chiefs home game and won 30-24 in overtime.

For the second week in a row, the Texans played hard. They forced turnovers. They threw a scare into the 14-point favored Chiefs. They had the ball in OT with a chance to win after a huge sack of Patrick Mahomes. But then they did what the Texans do – turn the ball over and give up the winning touchdown.

They look like they have made progress late in the season. But have they really?

It’s hard to take away any positives this late in the season. Many of the players on the field in these games are third and fourth-stringers, practice-squaders, and roster fillers. This is not what the Texans should look like next season. Are close losses better than blowouts? Sure. But in the end, it means nothing.

They are all but a lock for the No. 1 pick in the draft, which should be Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, a dynamic passer and runner who could change the offense immediately. The Davis Mills and now Mills/Jeff Driskell show needs to end. Mills fooled the Texans with a decent finish last season. They should not be fooled again.

There are other concerns to be addressed. First-round guard Kenyon Green started well but regressed as the season went on. He has a lot of improving to do to be worth his draft slot. Derek Stingley, Jr., the third overall pick, battled injuries all year, as he did in college. So too, did rookie linebacker, Christian Harris. Wide receiver John Metchie never saw the field after being diagnosed with cancer before the season.

Among the rest of the rookie class, safety Jalen Pitre has been inconsistent but has shown flashes. Running back Dameon Pierce was having a fine rookie season before being shut down just shy of 1,000 yards rushing.

The Texans will need all of these players to take a step next season and develop into impact players. And they will need a productive 2023 draft, which puts the spotlight squarely on GM Nick Caserio. He never had to draft a quarterback near the top of the draft in New England. He had never had to hire coaches there either, and now his track record is David Culley and Lovie Smith in two years.

And there is a lot more to do. The Texans need to beef up their front seven and need more pass rushers. The offensive line still needs help. The wide receiver group needs a revamp, even if Metchie is good to go. And they still need a running back to add depth behind Pierce.

These are all offseason decisions. Unfortunately for the Texans, they still have three games left to play. The only thing they can actually do is catch Denver and lose the No. 1 pick (which would go to Seattle, another team likely to be in the quarterback market). So, these gritty, close losses are best for them right now.

Many have speculated the Texans should go defense at the top of the 2023 draft and try to get USC QB Caleb Williams in 2024. But there are no guarantees you get that pick. And do you really want to sit through another year like this just on the off chance you might get the No. 1 pick again? Caserio should take Young, bring in a new coach – San Francisco 49ers DC and former Texan DeMeco Ryans will be one of the hottest names. If Ryans wants the job (and he will probably have better options), it’s a no-brainer to bring in someone from the Shanahan tree. Ryans would likely bring in an offensive mind from the same tree, and the young Texans could grow with their new coach and quarterback.

That’s for the offseason, however. Which in practicality is already here. And while it might seem like progress to play the Cowboys and Chiefs close, the truth is this is a lost season on all counts. It will be up to Caserio to keep it from happening again.

And for that, the jury is still out.

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