Continuing our series of offseason breakdowns following the 2021 schedule release, theRams.com examines the Rams' Week 8 road opponent, the Houston Texans (NRG Stadium, Oct. 31, 10 a.m. PT, FOX).
Starting the season 0-4, the Texans parted ways with head coach and general Bill O'Brien, who had held the position since 2014, and installed Romeo Crennel as their interim head coach. Crennel led the Texans to a 4-8 record over their final 12 games for a 4-12 finish.
Houston posted the NFL's No. 4 passing offense (283.6 yards per game) behind the arm of quarterback Deshaun Watson, but Watson's talents couldn't counteract a Texans defense that allowed the third-most total yards of offense per game in the league last year (416.8).
The Texans hired David Culley, who served as assistant head coach/pass coordinator/wide receivers coach for the Ravens the last two seasons, as their new head coach in late January. Culley's coaching staff announced on March 10 includes coach Lovie Smith (associate head coach/defensive coordinator) and longtime NFL offensive assistant Pep Hamilton (passing game coordinator/quarterbacks).
O'Brien's departure also created a void at general manager. Houston filled that position by hiring Nick Caserio, who had been with the New England Patriots over the last 20 seasons, including 18 in their player personnel department.
In free agency, the Texans' most notable additions were signing Ravens running back Mark Ingram and former Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay each to one-year deals.
Houston did not pick until the third round in this year's draft because of O'Brien trading away their first- and second-round picks as part of the trade with the Dolphins for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills. When they did finally get on the clock in the third round at pick no. 67 overall, they used the selection on former Stanford quarterback Davis Mills. Their next two picks also addressed the offensive side of the ball, with the last two going toward the defense.
Culley is in his first season as head coach of the Texans. He brings 27 years of NFL coaching experience to Houston – more than half of which came from serving as the Eagles' wide receivers coach from 1999-2012 – but this is his first year as a head coach in the league.
What to watch for
Rams defense vs. Texans starting quarterback
Like all the other opponents on the Texans' schedule, the Rams are wondering if they will be facing Deshaun Watson or someone else under center for Houston, given Watson's uncertain future.
If Watson is unavailable, the Rams will be preparing for one of Mills, 11-year veteran Tyrod Taylor or six-year veteran Jeff Driskel. While the Rams have never faced Driskel before, they did go up against Taylor during their first season in Los Angeles (2016) when Taylor was the Bills' starting quarterback. Taylor completed 12 of 23 pass attempts for 124 yards and two touchdowns in that game, a 30-19 Buffalo win at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Ironically, the rookie Mills would probably be the one Los Angeles would be most familiar with of the three, given new offensive line coach Kevin Carberry's three years at Stanford (2018-2020) overlapped with Davis' final three at the school.
With the 2021 NFL Schedule released, take a look at when and where the Los Angeles Rams will play during each week of the 2021 season.