KRAVITZ: Conversation with Texans' beat writer John McClain

Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton takes a pass and runs 80 yards to score vs. the Houston Texans on Sunday, November 5, 2017. (AP Photo / Eric Christian Smith)
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Bob Kravitz

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Every week, Bob Kravitz chats with a reporter who covers the Indianapolis Colts' opponent. This week, he has an email conversation with the Houston Chronicle Texans' beat writer John McClain.

KRAVITZ:

Well, John, we’re in for a treat Sunday (sarcasm). We all feel pretty confident around here in saying that Chuck Pagano is coaching his final game for the Colts. What’s the deal with Texans head coach Jim O’Brien? Could he be coaching his final game for Houston? If so, why have things soured? He won two AFC South titles and things were going reasonably well this season before Deshaun Watson was injured.

McCLAIN:

I’ll be shocked if this is O’Brien’s last game. They won the division the last two years. He’s finished 9-7 three times. When Watson was healthy – and O’Brien coached him, devised the game plan and called plays – they averaged 34 points. Watson’s three losses were at New England and Seattle and at home to Kansas City. Those losses were by 4.2 points per game. In his last five starts, they averaged 39 points. They have nine starters and three part-time starters on IR. They’ve used four quarterbacks and started three. They’ve used five left tackles. Their top two tight ends are on IR. Their current tight end is an h-back. Against Pittsburgh, they started three defensive linemen they signed off the street. I think (owner) Bob McNair knows this. I believe if O’Brien wants to return with one year left on his contract and possibly get an extension, he’ll be back.

KRAVITZ:

Looking forward to the offseason, which areas do you expect the Texans to address in the draft and free agency?

McCLAIN:

The Texans don’t have first- or second-round picks because of Deshaun Watson and Brock Osweiler. Without cutting any players to pick up more cap space, they should be around 55 million under the cap. They’ll have three compensatory picks, including one in the third round for A.J. Bouye. Counting Seattle’s three in the Duane Brown trade, they’ll have three third-round picks and a two from Seattle in 2019 that they could package in a deal in this draft. They need to rebuild their offensive line and at cornerback. I think they’ll have four new starters on the line next year to go with center Nick Martin. They need more speed in the secondary and can always use more linebackers. They’ve got 20 players on IR – two more than the Colts – and that includes 11 starters and two valuable backups.

KRAVITZ:

OK, last thing: I feel like there are only two or three teams who are currently worse than the Colts, and the decimated Texans are one of them – especially with DeAndre Hopkins now injured and their quarterback issues. I’ve got the Colts winning 23-13. What’s your call?

McCLAIN:

The Texans win the IR game 20-18, but the Colts will win the game, 20-13. Happy holidays!

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