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Football comes at you fast.

At the end of the 2019 season, the Houston Texans were recovering from a blown opportunity in Kansas City as they had the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs on the mat at Arrowhead Stadium, a venue where Houston prevailed 31-24 in Week 6 of the regular season. Perhaps the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl, and similarly coming from behind in their next two games, took the sting out of Houston blowing a 24-0 lead, but it seemed the Texans missed an opportunity.

Over a year later, the Texans traded All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, released defensive end J.J. Watt, fired coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, and quarterback Deshaun Watson wants out. Even if the three-time Pro Bowler continued to embrace the franchise, his mounting sexual assault lawsuits could eventually affect his on-field availability through a possible suspension, if the NFL decides to go that route.

With the Texans in disarray, the question becomes: how long will it take Houston to pull of the rebuild?

Consider it took the Texans eight seasons just to finish a year with a winning record, and that was barely over the hump at 9-7 in 2009. Then, they finally won their first playoff game in 2011, their 10th season in existence.

The franchise is in a state of disrepair not seen since its formation. Even in the 2006 offseason, when they finished 2-14 and fired Dom Capers, there was some optimism because the club held the No. 1 overall pick. The same can be said for the 2014 offseason, another 2-14 finish with the No. 1 overall pick in hand. Even the 2018 offseason had great silver linings because of the hope of Watson returning from an ACL tear, which was the final piece that sealed Houston’s 4-12 fate for his rookie year.

The Texans don’t have a first-round or second-round pick in this year’s draft. Their one shot to get such draft capital was Watson, and teams understandably may want to see how the NFL handles his situation. However, that will be more likely be after the draft, thus diminishing the returns Houston could have procured in a rebuild.

In some ways, the Texans are just trying to field a team in 2021 and get upfield to a more optimistic offseason. The rebuild doesn’t exactly begin until 2022 when they are able to utilize their presumably high-value draft picks to address key needs such as quarterback and pass rusher.

Houston has a key builder in Nick Caserio, who knows how to gather the building blocks of a winning organization as evidenced by his work as the New England Patriots’ director of player personnel from 2008-20. Chairman and CEO Cal McNair needs let Caserio take care of the football side of the operation and focus on generating interest with season ticket holders and sponsors. 2020 was a PR disaster for the Texans, and that would be the best place where McNair could help out, not fielding football questions in the media.

The NFL is an 8-8 — well, now, 9-8 or 8-9 league. The Texans won’t string together four-or-fewer win seasons forever, and the expanded playoff field should reward them when they get close. The rebuild may not be as long as the initial build from the expansion origins, but it will feel that way to Texans fans.

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