HOU: Can Dameon Pierce put the Texans on his back?
Give the Texans credit, they shipped off Deshaun Watson off to Cleveland and got lots of draft capital to rebuild their team. The only problem is, they don’t have many pieces this year to compete. Or do they?
Davis Mills has upside for a young quarterback. He had very little around him and managed to put together four top-10 finishes. He also had a lot of games where he was at or near the bottom too, again, because of cupboards being bare. Brandin Cooks is going to lead the way in receiving as long as he remains healthy, but is Nico Collins ready to make that next step? If not, then who? Can the Texans get something out of O.J. Howard? All of these help answer whether or not Pierce needs to do it all. Hopefully not. But when you look at Pierce closer, it’s enticing.
As a four-year player at Florida, Pierce had carries of 69, 54, 106 and 100. That’s an astonishing low mileage on a starting running back. In fact, Pierce had just nine college games with more than 10 carries. So durability will be a question for Pierce to answer, but he is a violent runner who can be a threat on the wheel route. He’s got all the tools to give those fantasy owners who were hesitant to draft him, some serious FOMO.
IND: Will they give the ball to Jonathan Taylor enough?
The Colts just missed going to the playoffs last year. While everyone rushes to point the finger at Carson Wentz, I keep wondering, why didn’t they give the ball more to Taylor? Sure, Matt Ryan will help, but this team is going places because Taylor takes them there. A 37-year old quarterback in the twilight of his career is not pushing the Colts over the hump. If Ryan can get Parris Campbell and Alec Pierce to make that leap, then sure, spread it around. Until then, keep it simple, stupid. Feed Taylor the ball.
JAX: Can Doug Pederson create a winning culture?
It’s great to have talent, youth and speed, but if you don’t have a winning culture or good leadership, all the intangibles are wasted. Urban Meyer showed how bad NFL coaching can be and his ego masked trouble beneath. The Jaguars overspent in free agency, upgrading key positions, but will it work? Pederson must find a way to get all this young talent to move in the same direction. Win or lose, the Jaguars need an identity.
The core of Jacksonville’s offense – Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, James Robinson, and Christian Kirk – is 25 or younger. So are Marvin Jones, Evan Engram, and Dan Arnold the right personnel to be leaders?
TEN: Can Derrick Henry last the whole season?
Henry played eight games in 2021 and still finished 9th in rushing yards (937) and 10th in attempts (219). Those are mind-blowing numbers when you consider what he left on the table in a 17 game season. 2,000 yards should be no problem. Why worry about his health? He’s 28 and missed just two games prior to last season. He tore his MCL and meniscus, but shows no sign of being slower or out of condition for the 2022 season.
Having Henry healthy will help Ryan Tannehill nail down his timing with Robert Woods, Austin Hooper and rookie Treylon Burks. Henry is a volume guy and defenses will key in on him. Opposing teams are daring them to throw so feed King Henry and the rest of his kingdom will thrive.