Sunday, September 4, 2011

NFL 32 in 32: Houston Texans

The Houston Texans have been around for 9 years (already), and they have never been able to crack the postseason. But, many believe that this is the year that they do so. With a potent offense, and a vastly improving defense, there is a consensus that the Texans are close to taking the AFC South title away from the Colts. Can they?

What's New: Plenty, mostly on the defensive side of the football. The biggest addition was the adding of Johnathan Joseph, the corner from Cincinnati. He should help out a secondary that was the worst statistically in the NFL last season. They also added S Danieal Manning from Chicago, and drafted 3 corners in the draft as well. There was more attention paid to the defensive side of the football, with the drafting of DE J.J Watt, and the shifting around of many players due to the implementation of the new 3-4 scheme from Wade Phillips. That addition may be the biggest of all, as he tries to take a defense that was one of the league's worst last season, and in a few others. The defense was all that truly needed attention this offseason, and the Texans and Rick Smith did all of that very well this offseason.

Biggest Strength: On offense, they have Matt Schaub, who is a great QB, and underrated because he plays in Houston. He can make all the throws he needs to make, and has deep threats to use to make all of the throws. He has possibly the league's best wideout in Andre Johnson, and a very good TE in Owen Daniels to boot. There is also noticeable depth at the wide reciever position, with Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, as well as last season's rushing leader, Arian Foster. Despite his injuries he should still be a very good running back this season, even though he may not be quite as good as last season. They have good depth at the running back position too, with Derrick Ward and Ben Tate. On defense, they have a good group of pass rushers on both the front 3 and the linebackers. Examples include J.J Watt, Antonio Smith, DeMeco Ryans, and Brian Cushing. The secondary of course got a massive and well-needed facelift, and is now better at the top end than it has ever been.  

Biggest Weakness: The offensive line is an area of concern, with some young players, and others who have not impressed. They need to perform at a high level to keep Matt Schaub upright, and spur on the running game, which added a much needed second dimension to the running game. They had problems last season, and they need to improve by a considerable margin this season. There are also issues on the defense, with the transition to a brand new scheme, and there are some players out of place that need to find new spots. There are also depth and injury issues in the secondary, and in the linebacking corps too. The problems in the secondary are mainly with the second corner and second safety, because the problem players from last year are still there and their only replacements will be inexperienced rookies.

Outlook: There is a very good chance that they will unseat the Indianapolis Colts at the top of the AFC South. However, despite the great offseason additions, there are still some problems with depth and some starters that could prove to be bigger than advertised. The opening part of the schedule is very tough, and the NFL world will learn very quickly as to whether the Texans are for real, or they will do what they have done in the past 9 seasons, miss the postseason again.

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