This is the first installment in a series that will examine each of the Green Bay Packers’ scheduled 2020 opponents, their offseason changes, and their statuses heading into training camp. We open up with a look at the teams in the AFC North, starting with the Packers’ week 7 matchup against the Houston Texans.
Compared to most teams around the NFL, the Green Bay Packers maintained a high level of consistency through the 2020 offseason. The coaching staff remained almost entirely the same from last season, with a few minor tweaks, and in general, almost all of the team’s key players return from a 2019 campaign that saw the Packers go 13-3 and make the NFC Championship Game.
While the Packers saw a few veteran starters depart in free agency, the core contributors should remain mostly the same from last year. The same cannot be said of the Houston Texans, who are scheduled to host the Packers in week seven of the 2020 season.
Head coach Bill O’Brien effectively blew up his team’s offense this spring. He jettisoned All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, bringing back only modest draft pick compensation and a bloated running back contract with David Johnson. The Texans then added a few more bodies to the receiving corps, including a beloved former Packer, but the fact remains that if Houston’s offense is a mess, it’s entirely O’Brien’s fault.
Last year, the Texans won the AFC South at 10-6, then took a 24-0 lead on the Kansas City Chiefs early in the second quarter of their Divisional Playoff matchup. Since the ten-minute mark of that quarter in that game, everything else that has happened has left Texans fans scratching their heads.
Here’s the breakdown of the Texans’ offseason heading towards training camp, provided to us by the fine folks at SB Nation’s Texans site, Battle Red Blog.
Notable free agency additions: WR Brandin Cooks, WR Randall Cobb, RB David Johnson
Over/under 10 wins? Under. With brand new coordinators on both sides of the ball, a re-tooled offense missing DeAndre Hopkins, little done to improve a bottom of the league defense and a pandemic shortened off-season it’s hard to imagine Houston getting double digits wins in 2020.
Rookie I’m most excited about: OLB/DE Jonathan Greeenard: he has a motor, a mentor (J.J. Watt), and all the opportunity in the world to shine in a defense desperately looking for the next man up to make a play on the defensive front.
Best position battle heading into training camp: Wide receiver. Without DeAndre Hopkins there’s no clear cut #1 wideout in Houston for the first time since Andre Johnson was drafted in 2003. Can WR1-by-committee work for Deshaun Watson? We’re about to find out...
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: How will Houston overcome the loss of the best wide receiver in the NFL?
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Who is going to shore up the other safety spot alongside rising star Justin Reid?
Notable injuries heading into training camp: Will Fuller V, the Texans version of The Flash is once again coming off injury, but appears healthy heading into camp. Rookie offensive linemen Tytus Howard and Max Sharping also need to get and stay healthy in 2020 if Bill O’Brien’s shiny new passing game has any chance of working.