I’ve been a vehement defender of Kevin Walter in the past. Over the course of the last couple of years, a litany of Texans fans have been screaming for the team to either replace Walter with more of a playmaking WR, bump him down the depth chart, or move him to the slot. In every instance, I’ve been the first to outline all that Walter brings to the team that you don’t see show up on the stat sheet. His blocking, his route-running, etc… and I stand by all of that.
But something happened last year. Walter still brought all his excellent blocking and route-running to the table, but I don’t recall him so much as breaking a single tackle all season. I’m sure he did – I just didn’t see the same guy out there as before.
Similar to Owen Daniels when he’s at his best, Walter often had a knack for finding a seam in the defense, and often could shake loose on a broken play and get a tough first down after a Matt Schaub scramble.
With hopes that Daniels will be returning to pre-injury form, Walter won’t be (and won’t need to be) the security blanket he was two seasons ago. While he still holds great value for all the non-flashy things he does, to my eye he’s taken a step back in the last season in the realm of the things that DO show up in the statistical categories.
We all have to start dealing with the reality that Andre Johnson is going to either backslide soon, or will not be able to play through the injuries he’s been able to deal with in the last couple of years. You don’t need two dynamic playmakers at both wide receiver position – I mean, really who has that? But I think the Texans (and Walter) are at the point where they need more than what they have now.
Of course, Jacoby Jones was supposed to be the guy that stepped up big time in 2010, but his propensity to drop balls and the fact that I don’t think the Texans’ coaches always used him properly (okay, truth – I stole that theory from Rivers, but I think it’s absolutely true) resulted in a significant backslide from Jacoby, who figures to be a free agent once the lockout mess is settled.
With Walter’s strengths, a move to the slot I think would maximize what he does well, but I’m of course not at all sold that Jones would be the guy to replace him on the other side. Of course, the Texans signed what they think is a prototypical slot guy, David Anderson, to a new deal when the Broncos tried to sign him away as a restricted free agent. All speculation about Dorin Dickerson is just that – speculation.
I’ve been asked about how I feel on Plaxico Burress. I think he’s a good example of a guy who’s not a bad guy, but has made bad decisions. What I mean by that is – I don’t think his past stupidity would be something that would keep the Texans from taking a flyer on him, as opposed to a guy who has had regular trips to jail. But I thought Plax was already regressing before he ever landed in the clink. Plus, he may in fact still be effective – but the chances that he’ll be effective immediately are slim to none. Actually, none to none. He’d have to be dirt cheap for me to endorse him coming to the Texans.
Once the lockout is lifted, the Texans obviously have a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball, but as cliched as it is – I’m a big believer in the philosophy that you’re regressing if you’re standing pat. Re-signing Jacoby Jones isn’t enough (and you can make a good argument that the team shouldn’t even bother trying to, especially if they already have a plan in mind for his replacement).
Let’s be honest here, the Texans are one devastating injury away from having one of the most questionable and inconsistent (if not flat-out worst) WR corps in the NFL. Hopefully soon we’ll see if they have a plan.