When it was announced that Stefon Diggs was traded to the Houston Texans on Wednesday morning, NFL fans could take a breath and simply say, “finally”. Rumors of Diggs’ displeasure in Buffalo circulated for the last couple of years. Now, Diggs joins his brother Trevon of the Cowboys in Texas.

The second thing that came to my mind after “finally” was a newfound sense of fear. One cannot help but fear the new most loaded team in football. Stefon Diggs will be joining two young studs in the Texans wide receiver room: Nico Collins and Tank Dell. Both Collins and Dell have shown flashes of being #1 receivers. The two were projected to be one of the better WR duos in the NFL for the upcoming season. Now, Texans star quarterback CJ Stroud will be throwing to a three-headed-monster in Diggs, Collins, and Dell.

This brings me to my third thought – a thought that made more and more sense to me the more I thought about it. The 2024 Texans will feature a star QB in his sophomore season, with three #1 caliber wide receivers at his disposal. Does this sound familiar?

Cincinnati Bengals, 2021

Following an up and down rookie season in 2020, then sophomore quarterback Joe Burrow led his Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance vs. the Los Angeles Rams, just coming up short in the championship game.

Burrow’s receiver group consisted of a superstar rookie in Jamaar Chase, and two 1,000 yard threats in Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Following the 2021 season, each of Chase, Higgins and Boyd had 1,000 receiving yard seasons on their resumes (Boyd in ’19, Chase and Higgins in ’21).

In the offseason going into the ’21 season, the Bengals notably snagged edge-rusher Trey Hendrickson from the Saints in free agency. Hendrickson made a huge leap, becoming a first time Pro-Bowler, and the Bengals’ most outstanding defensive player.

Houston Texans, 2024

Following a fairly successful rookie season in 2023, featuring an unlikely playoff win, CJ Stroud will head into 2024 with an outstanding wide receiver group, as previously highlighted. Any of his three receivers are capable of a 1,000 yard season, barring injury. It is possible that all of them could get there this season!

This offseason, Houston locked up former All-Pro edge Danielle Hunter with a two year contract. Hunter joins a young star in Will Anderson Jr. on the Texans defensive line.

So, bringing in a bonafide stud receiver, retaining last season’s top receiver duo, and signing a premier edge-rusher, all to support your star quarterback on the second year of a rookie contract ( who went to Ohio State, coincidentally) is a familiar approach.

What more could this edition of the Texans have in common with that excellent 2021 Bengals team? Actually, one important person.

Joe Mixon

Yes, running back Joe Mixon is the thread that ties this analogy together. Mixon, who was a star on the ’21 Bengals, was let go by the team this offseason, replaced by former Colt Zach Moss. Mixon, coming off of a somewhat average season, decided to take his talents to Houston.

Whether Mixon can return to Pro-Bowl form this year or not, he is an upgrade over last season’s RB1, Devin Singletary. Mixon is known for his tremendous speed and elusiveness in open space.

Mixon’s signing, in addition to the acquisitions of Diggs and Hunter, gives Creedence to the ’21 Bengals analogy; so much so that it may be less of an analogy, and more of a formula for success that the Texan’s GM is not so subtly emulating.

Final Thoughts

The formula for success is clear, tried and tested. Like the Super-Bowl losing Bengals, the Texans are spending at the right time, and building a super-team around the quarterback before they have to pay him his true value. Like Burrow did, Stroud has all the weapons he could dream of at the skill-positions, and a defense that is no slouch.

While Houston’s squad is dynamo, a broad look at the AFC may give Texans fans pause. To get to the Super Bowl, Stroud and the Texans will have to go through Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and of course, Patrick Mahomes. The conference is as competitive as it has ever been, and the Kansas City Chiefs are eager to three-peat.

If Houston can get to the big dance, I would like their chances. What Joe Burrow’s Bengals had in skill-player talent, they lacked in offensive line talent. Burrow was sacked 7 times in the Super Bowl. Stroud plays behind one of the best offensive lines in football, anchored by tackle Laremy Tunsil.

Of course, not all things will be smooth, and injuries and attrition will be a factor for some of the older guys. Should they make a deep run, much of the credit will go to the front office. Maybe some credit will drift to the Bengals, for an inspiring 2021 run.

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