What Went Wrong? Offensive line

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
5:45
PM ET
Until his staff is complete, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien won't announce any member of it officially, despite the fact that many of them have already been working for weeks and are in Mobile, Ala., scouting players at the Senior Bowl.

One of the vacancies is offensive line coach. The Texans are hoping to land former Titans coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame player as an Oilers lineman. That gives him instant credibility for a line that will need a little bit of tweaking before next season.

That's where we pick up our "What went wrong?" series. We've already examined safeties, running backs, inside linebackers, receivers, outside linebackers, tight ends and defensive linemen.

Key Players: LT Duane Brown, LG Wade Smith, C Chris Myers, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Derek Newton, T Ryan Harris, G Ben Jones

What went wrong?: There will be a large swath of Texans fans who don't want to hear this, but this unit got beat up verbally more than they should have been last season. Yes, there were protection breakdowns; no, the run blocking wasn't perfect every time. But they were seriously hampered by two things: an inexperienced quarterback who lacked an effective mental clock and ridiculous injuries to running backs, who are a big part of pass protection.

Case Keenum averaged 3.7 seconds from the time the ball was snapped to the time he was sacked, according to ESPN Stats & Info. While I didn't crunch this year's numbers, that figure would have been in the top third of the league when it came to most time between snap and sack last season, per numbers examined by Pro Football Focus.

The one position that was a major problem was right tackle, where Newton struggled in pass blocking. The Texans might have had more leeway there had third-round pick Brennan Williams been healthy. Williams spent the whole season on injured reserve.

Reason for hope?: If the Texans can land Munchak, his influence will be good for this group. Smith becomes a free agent in March, so that could be a position that changes. I'm not sure Smith was ever healthy this season, though he insisted he was. Myers and Brown had solid seasons and Brooks steadily improved and showed he can be a strong piece for the future of this line.

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