NFL Team Preview – Houston Texans – AFC South

The Houston Texans were 2-14 last season, a complete turn from their AFC Wildcard Playoff appearance in 2012 where they beat the Cincinnati Bengals & then lost to the New England Patriots. Quarterback Matt Schaub was never comfortable, played absolutely terribly, threw interceptions for pick sixes all season, all the way to the point where he was benched permanently for Case Keenum, who used to be a 3rd string quarterback, but was popular in Houston because of his great play in college at the University of Houston.

The team was in disarray all season long, losing Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Cushing to a torn ACL, having Ed Reed never really pan out as a safety for the team in the offseason acquisition, & having WR Andre Johnson finally blowing up, which is extremely uncharacteristic as he is one of the most professional & quiet players in the NFL.

Houston Texans Jadeveon Clowney
Houston Texans #1 overall NFL Draft pick Jadeveon Clowney will help an already strong Texans defense to be one of the best in the NFL.

Even with the bad record, the Texans come in to 2014 as a team that can easily be right back among the elite in the NFL, doing similar to what the Kansas City Chiefs did last year, going 2-14 in 2012 & going to the NFL playoffs in 2013. With their #1 overall pick, the team took Jadeveon Clowney, the dominant defensive end out of South Carolina. There were questions whether the team would go with Johnny Manziel because of the weakness at the quarterback position, but new Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien believes that if the rest of the team is strong, the quarterback position can be used to simply manage the game through & it doesn’t have to be the absolute best.

Houston Texans Offense

The offensive unit went from being one of the best in the NFL for the last 3-4 seasons to absolutely dreadful last year, no matter what the stats say. The team was 15th in passing & 20th in rushing, but many times, it just looked like they were just plain last.

One area that many NFL insiders thought that the Texans should have worked to upgrade was the quarterback position, especially after Matt Schaub was not going to comeback under any real circumstances. The team went & brought in journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to save the day in Houston.

What? You aren’t pumped about this?? Yeah, we aren’t either.

Fitzpatrick has been an okay player for the time he has been in the league, particularly during his time with the Buffalo Bills, but he is absolutely not the franchise player for the future & likely may not keep Andre Johnson too happy unless something major happen & Fitzpatrick turns into Tom Brady.

If Fitz is on his game, then he will have some great targets to throw to even outside of Andre Johnson. Keyshawn Martin & Deandre Hopkins are great #2 & #3 receivers to complement Johnson & are excellent deep threats, which the Texans are known for getting the ball downfield quickly & efficiently.

With the offensive line still being very solid from last year (the line was NOT the problem that Schaub was throwing so many interceptions), Fitz will have time to get the ball out quickly & make big plays on a consistent basis. The running game should get back to normal with Arian Foster looking to have a bounce back season from a subpar 2013 season that was muddled with injuries & just down play from having many more players in the box ready to shut him down & focus predominantly on the running game as the passing game wasn’t working.

The Texans offense should be among the upper tier of the NFL this coming season, provided that Fitzpatrick can keep the ship straight before another great quarterback is available through free agency or through the NFL Draft.

Houston Texans Defense

The Houston Texans may boast the best overall front 7 in the NFL this coming season. J.J. Watt is absolute monster on the defensive line, getting sacks & swatting down footballs on a regular basis. The team, as mentioned earlier, brought in Jadeveon Clowney in the NFL Draft, the team gets Brian Cushing back & Whitley Mercilus on the other side of the field at the linebacker position opposite Clowney & Cushing.

The front 7 alone, will be a championship-level defense, assuming that everyone can stay healthy for the duration of the season. The secondary is a bit of a question with the only strong player in the back being Johnathan Joseph at the cornerback position. Free safety Chris Clemons is a good safety that can patrol the open area of the field very well, but the big question could be if Kareem Jackson can be a dominant cornerback & become a shut down corner on #2 receivers. If so, the Texans will  continue to be strong against the pass & definitely improve on their run defense.

Going back to the defensive line for a minute, the Texans drafted some serious beef at the nosetackle position in Louis Nix III, the over 350-pounder out of Notre Dame. Nix III will be able to plug up the line nicely & take over some offensive linemen, allowing the great linebackers to roam free & cause havoc in the backfield.

Houston Texans Record Prediction

The Texans should make a major bounce back this season. With a stronger defense & the offense looking to be back on pace, the Texans should be able to go up against the Indianapolis Colts for the division championship. The only reason the Texans may not win the division is the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick. If Fitzpatrick is above average, the Texans win the AFC South, if not, they will be in the Wildcard hunt in the AFC. Our prediction is 10-6.

 

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