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Eight steps the Texans should take to escape perpetual mediocrity

Wade Phillips, Gary Kubiak AP

Texans G.M. Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak put together one of the most disappointing defenses of the last decade.  Wade Phillips has arrived to clean up the mess.

Phillips played a huge role in picking six defenders in April’s draft, and his work isn’t done yet. The Texans are up next in our team checklist series.

1. Find a starting cornerback.

Phillips likes his front seven, but he doesn’t know what he has in the secondary. That’s Wade’s nice way of saying he knows his secondary stinks. Nothing should be guaranteed for last year’s first-round pick Kareem Jackson, while it may be too early to count on rookies Brandon Harris or Rashad Carmichael.

Could all of the young kids step up?  It’s possible, but the Texans should consider that a good problem after signing a starter.  They could be in the mix for Nnamdi Asomugha.  Some other possibilities: Johnathan Joseph, Ike Taylor, Carlos Rogers, and Antonio Cromartie.

2. Add a potential starter at safety too.

The team is moving Glover Quin to a new position (free safety) and have Troy Nolan at strong safety.  They need more. This won’t be an easy position to fill, as seemingly every team is looking for safety depth this offseason.

3. Build defensive line depth.

We actually believe Phillips when he says he likes Earl Mitchell and Shaun Cody in the middle.  The defensive end group of J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith, and Amobi Okoye could be worse.  There just is absolutely no depth behind these guys.

Phillips and Rick Smith will have to work their magic here because they will be picking up a lot of reserves that will make the team.

4. Teach the 3-4 defense for dummies.

The Texans organization is putting a whole lot of faith in Phillips. Not only is he helping to pick players and transform roles, he has to teach an entirely new scheme in one training camp.  If it works, it could be Phillips’ finest hour as a coordinator.

5. Settle the third receiver position.

Jacoby Jones is worth bringing back if the price is right.  Otherwise the Texans only have Kevin Walter, David Anderson, and a whole lot of blah behind Andre Johnson.  Ideally, the team would get someone with speed to put on the outside.

6. See if anyone wants Amobi Okoye or Steve Slaton.

Once looked at as possible cornerstones, Okoye and Slaton should be available for pennies on the dollar.  Okoye could stick as a reserve. We suspect Slaton will just get released if everyone including last year’s second round pick Ben Tate stay healthy in camp.

7. Bring back Vonta Leach.

Houston’s underrated offensive line gets a huge assist, but Leach was a key to Arian Foster’s breakout year.  He’ll cost a lot for a fullback, but not that much for a true difference maker.

8. Thank Mr. McNair once again.

Not many owners would have given Kubiak and Rick Smith another chance. We think it was the right move because of the lockout and the stability of Kubiak’s offense.  Hiring Phillips was an excellent gambit.  The deposed Cowboys coach could oddly save them all from perpetual mediocrity.

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29 Responses to “Eight steps the Texans should take to escape perpetual mediocrity”
  1. rcunningham says: Jun 17, 2011 5:15 PM

    Houston 8-8s!

  2. blastfurnaceknows says: Jun 17, 2011 5:22 PM

    The only “magic” that Rick Smith knows how to work is how to make money disappear with nothing to show for it.

  3. ezmoover says: Jun 17, 2011 5:36 PM

    It’s the Houston Texans!

    Does anyone really farking care???

  4. raynman49 says: Jun 17, 2011 5:36 PM

    As a Giants fan, I’ll take Steve Slaton any day. Get rid of Jacobs.

  5. nflsucker says: Jun 17, 2011 5:39 PM

    It’s one of the miracles of sport, that year after year a team can be one year away. So it’s pretty obvious that they’ll have a shot at being better than so-so next year.

  6. trbowman says: Jun 17, 2011 5:41 PM

    Fire Gary Kubiak

  7. mrbigass says: Jun 17, 2011 5:47 PM

    Houston 88’s…..Ha! I like it and I’m from Houston.

    Always admired Kub’s as a coach and his offenses have typically proved out. Defense, not so much. As always, time will tell if the new regime on the D will prove out as well……

  8. mrbigass says: Jun 17, 2011 5:51 PM

    Re: As a Giants fan, I’ll take Steve Slaton any day. Get rid of Jacobs.

    Dude, please take Slaton and be sure and make him the kickoff return man which is what he was relegated to here last year. And he was not only awful, he was gawdawful………..so please, take him!

  9. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Jun 17, 2011 6:01 PM

    First I wanna say thanks. I have been waiting for you guys to write your opinions about the texans for awhile now. TOOK YA LONG ENOUGH!! lol

    secondly I devour information about the texans. Searching several sources everyday to find articles. So i’m pretty up to date with what they’re doing ( as much as one can be during a lockout anyways)

    So with your 1st topic about corners.. Only 3 of those guys would ever be considered for the Texans. NNamdi Joseph and a split between taylor/rogers. Cro will never be in the discussion because The Texans only sign good character players. Not ones with 6 illegitimate children. As much as I would like NNamdi the problem is they will have to pay bank for him. When you do that next time a big name on the team comes up for free agency, he expects a big paycheck also. Jonathan Joseph on the other hand is my favorite of the bunch. I believe he’s the best overall selection. With skill/money being just the right porridge.

    Secondly I don’t believe they need to add a new safety. If you watch any game film from the Texans from last year troy nolan shows promise. I believe he can be good and Quinn going to safety is a great idea.

    Trading Amobi and slaton for a good 3-4 d-lineman would be great.

    And this is my big call here… I believe that Dorin Dickerson will emerge as the big time number 3 this year and eventually become the number 2 next to andre. He’s a converted T.E to wr who is Andre 2.0 size and even with the Texans complicated passing scheme he finished high on the depth chart. Look for him to step his game up.

    O an last thing, of course you gotta bring back Leach! HES A BEAST!!!

  10. canetic says: Jun 17, 2011 6:06 PM

    Step 9: Fire Wade Phillips and hire a different D.C.

  11. ramofsteel says: Jun 17, 2011 6:19 PM

    Find a #3? They need to find a legit #2. Walter is a good player, but they need someone like Miles Austin or Greg Jennings. Oh and Kareem Jackson was a rookie, he could improve next season. Mario Williams did after his rookie season.

  12. svallen says: Jun 17, 2011 6:19 PM

    Some interesting free agents on this year’s list. I think Jones is a must sign off this list.

    http://www.spotrac.com/free-agents/nfl/houston-texans/

  13. jackfnburton says: Jun 17, 2011 6:25 PM

    Who’d have thought a team called the “Houston Texans” would me perpetually mediocre. Of all the dumb team names. Houston Texans…please…at least “Houston Oilers” took advantage of Texas’ natural obnoxiousness.

    They could have called them the Houston Gun Nuts, or the Houston W.A.S.P.s, or the Houston Executed Retards. But no, they went with the most boring and predictable name imaginable.

    I know, let’s call the L.A. expansion team the Los Angeles Californians!

    Then again, we live in stupid times. They changed the Washington Bullets to the Washington Wizards. Really? Oh no! Look out! It’s the Wizards! SHAZAM!

    But back to football. If you’re not even gonna TRY to come up with a good team name then clearly God will punish you by cursing you with spotty line play, a crap secondary and eternal playoff drought.

  14. descendency says: Jun 17, 2011 7:05 PM

    Step 0: kidnap Peyton Manning.

  15. rcunningham says: Jun 17, 2011 7:09 PM

    jackfnburton says:
    Jun 17, 2011 6:25 PM
    Who’d have thought a team called the “Houston Texans” would me perpetually mediocre. Of all the dumb team names. Houston Texans…please…at least “Houston Oilers” took advantage of Texas’ natural obnoxiousness.

    They could have called them the Houston Gun Nuts, or the Houston W.A.S.P.s, or the Houston Executed Retards. But no, they went with the most boring and predictable name imaginable.

    I know, let’s call the L.A. expansion team the Los Angeles Californians!

    Then again, we live in stupid times. They changed the Washington Bullets to the Washington Wizards. Really? Oh no! Look out! It’s the Wizards! SHAZAM!

    None of that was even remotely humorous…and I’m not a Texans fan. Please try again.

  16. 808raiderinparadise says: Jun 17, 2011 7:49 PM

    Ok, I honestly have no clue who anyone is in this secondary (if you call it that). I only know who Kareem Jackson is beacuse of his affiliation with the porn party. Its a passing league nowaddays. There is no way Houston makes the next step till they can contain the pass at the very least. in the AFC you have Colts, Patriots, Steelers, Chargers that respectively have the best 4 QB’s in the league. 8-8ish again.

  17. raynman49 says: Jun 17, 2011 7:51 PM

    Bring back Andre Davis! Great return man, and if it wasn’t for him, Vick would have never been anything at Va Tech!!

  18. tr975 says: Jun 17, 2011 8:19 PM

    The Browns should try to get Okoye and Slaton for a late round pick next year. This would give them some more defensive line depth as well as a change-of-pace running back behind Hillis and Hardesty.

  19. frankdatank23 says: Jun 17, 2011 8:26 PM

    get Owen Daniels all the way back.

  20. baboushka says: Jun 17, 2011 9:09 PM

    Mediocrity runs in straight lines on a football team. From QB to RB to MLB to Strong Safety. Quick! Name Houston’s starters at each of those positions and tell me if anyone of them is a STAR. Now name their coach. Is he a star? They are all mediocre, with the possible exception of RB Arion Foster. And we’ll know this year about him.

  21. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Jun 17, 2011 9:17 PM

    @ tr975 I agree entirely except I would hope the browns would offer up some of their left over 3-4 d-lineman. I’m assuming they have some right??

    @Frankdatank23
    He’s gonna be there this season. Underrated T.E. imo

    @rcunningham
    Thanks bro, I was gonna say something but you said it all for me.

  22. lutazanderman says: Jun 17, 2011 9:51 PM

    jackfnburton says:
    Jun 17, 2011 6:25 PM
    Who’d have thought a team called the “Houston Texans” would me perpetually mediocre. Of all the dumb team names. Houston Texans…please…at least “Houston Oilers” took advantage of Texas’ natural obnoxiousness.

    They could have called them the Houston Gun Nuts, or the Houston W.A.S.P.s, or the Houston Executed Retards. But no, they went with the most boring and predictable name imaginable.
    ___________________________________

    That may be the most ignorant post I’ve ever read on PFT. Houston W.A.S.P.S.? Really? What on earth are you talking about? Houston is one of the most culturally diverse cities in all of the U.S.

  23. nooittall says: Jun 17, 2011 10:31 PM

    #1 Fire that phony G.M. He has zero football experience. He was an accountant in Denver, got promoted because he would do exactly what Shanahan told him to do.
    #2 Fire that phony Head Coach. He made his reputation by hanging onto the coattails of a Head Coach in Denver who made his reputation haning onto the coattails of one of the greatest QB’s in history and didn’t do squat without him.
    You got a bunch of world class B.S.r’s in Houston. These goofy owners need to stop talking to one another and the press to find out who they should hire and talk to some real football people.

  24. tr975 says: Jun 17, 2011 11:36 PM

    andrejohnsonforpresident says:

    @ tr975 I agree entirely except I would hope the browns would offer up some of their left over 3-4 d-lineman. I’m assuming they have some right??
    —————————
    Most of them will be free agents: Robaire Smith, Kenyon Coleman, Derreck Robinson. They also already got rid of Shaun Rogers.

    The only ones still on the roster that fit the 3-4 (that the Browns would trade) would be Brian Sanford, Scott Paxson, Titus Adams, and Brian Schaefering. I’m not sure if any of them would be an upgrade over any players the Texans currently have.

  25. dempsey63 says: Jun 17, 2011 11:44 PM

    baboushka says:

    Mediocrity runs in straight lines on a football team. From QB to RB to MLB to Strong Safety.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    You nailed it. A successful ballclub builds a rock-solid foundation along that line.

    A wise general manager will draft a strong-armed franchise QB, a dominant and intelligent C, and a RB who possesses both the power to run between the tackles and the speed to turn the corner.

    Add a run-stuffing NT to the mix, an agile and versatile ILB who can patrol from sideline-to-sideline, and a ball-hawking, heat-seeking missile at S–and pretty soon the team has an impressive backbone upon which to build.

    Constantly assess (as Ted Thompson does) that 53rd player on the roster. Is there somebody on the waiver wire that is better? Then acquire him and release the other guy.

    Build depth. Give each of those reserves a key role, whether it be a special teams position or a key sideline responsibility on game day to keep them involved and motivated.

    Create tradition, no matter how tenuous it might appear to others. Commemorate a great upset with a huge photo in the tunnel leading to the playing field. Establish rituals for the players to observe and to pass on to new players in subsequent years, like rubbing a beloved retired player’s old helmet for good luck.

    Finally, treat every opponent with equal respect. Nothing is more frustrating to a fan than to see a landmark victory followed by a letdown loss.

  26. tr975 says: Jun 18, 2011 12:15 AM

    Best bet for the Texans finding some 3-4 d-line depth is probably free agency rather than trying to trade Okoye and/or Slaton for some.

    Some of the players the Texans could target:

    Tony McDaniel, Miami
    Shaun Ellis, NY Jets
    Kris Jenkins, NY Jets
    Trevor Pryce, NY Jets
    Kenyon Coleman, Cleveland
    Robaire Smith, Cleveland
    Nick Eason, Pittsburgh
    Justin Bannan, Denver
    Ronald Fields, Denver
    Jamal Williams, Denver
    Ron Edwards, Kansas City
    Shaun Smith, Kansas City
    Jacques Cesaire, San Diego
    Stephen Bowen, Dallas
    Jason Hatcher, Dallas
    Marcus Spears, Dallas
    Cullen Jenkins, Green Bay
    Pat Williams, Minnesota
    Alan Branch, Arizona
    Bryan Robinson, Arizona
    Gabe Watson, Arizona
    Demetric Evans, San Francisco
    Aubrayo Franklin, San Francisco
    Ray McDonald, San Francisco
    Junior Siavii, Seattle

  27. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Jun 18, 2011 4:09 AM

    @ tr975

    I see about the browns.. Any of those guys could be quality depth. Maybe an okay pick to go a long with one of them or something.

    That list is pretty impressive.. While I know most of them wouldn’t be signed if I could to dump antonio smiths contract and amobi’s. I would go for

    Shaun Ellis, NY Jets
    Trevor Pryce, NY Jets
    Kenyon Coleman, Cleveland
    Robaire Smith, Cleveland ( return back to Houston)
    Ron Edwards, Kansas City
    Shaun Smith, Kansas City
    Stephen Bowen, Dallas
    Jason Hatcher, Dallas
    Marcus Spears, Dallas
    Don’t know if I would take all these 3 but I could see it happening anyways..
    Aubrayo Franklin, San Francisco ( would be a monster on this d-line.

  28. cmack21 says: Jun 21, 2011 6:10 PM

    Hey bring back David Carr… “he is a nice kid with a lot of potential” LMAO. He is still killing this team. Its great though most ppl still show up to the games in Oilers gear. Want to escape perpetual mediocrity… SELL THE TEAM MC NAIR!

  29. rjdunkman says: Jul 5, 2011 12:57 PM

    First of all, I’d like to say I really appreciate the PFT website, keep up the good work guys. On to each of the points on your to do list for our Texans:

    1) I definitely agree with needing to boost our CBs. We should have made a stronger effort to keep Dunta Robinson, but he wasn’t worth the contract Atlanta offered him. Overall our CB play last year was awful and needs to improve drastically. I thought Fred Bennett and Antwaun Molden from a few years ago would have developed better and we have not done enough to address this position through the draft, unless Jackson and Harris can make major strides soon. I would love to see us go after Asomugha or Joseph, but we have a history of trying to save money and not overspend on the high-end free agents, we generally prefer to overspend on mediocre free agents instead. This is a definite need but I would not count on us making a major splash in the free agent market, unless Wade Phillips can make a strong enough case for it.

    2) We’ve needed an upgrade at safety since back when Marcus Coleman took a major step back about 7 years ago. I don’t understand why they have not attempted to address the position with anything more than a 5th round pick. I like Quin and hope he can hold up as a FS, and I thought Pollard, while awful in coverage, was at least a good tackler and a decent SS and could have been kept around based on that merit, but if they want a 2nd rangy player to stick at SS then we need to address that.

    3) I worry more about our Mitchell and Cody anchoring our defense at NT than the DE situation. Mario Williams should still be a beast on one side, Antonio Smith started a Super Bowl as a DE in a 3-4 defense, JJ Watt should hopefully be a solid end, and Okoye may be more useful in that role as opposed to being a pass-rushing DT in a 4-3. Another body wouldn’t be bad to have there, but I don’t think it is a big need.

    4) Agreed. It may be difficult to install the new scheme with so much player turnover and so little time to work. Needless to say it may take a few games before the defense starts to gel together.

    5) If Jacoby Jones resigns I think we’re fine. We could always use another speed option, but I think the depth is fine.

    6) Good luck, I doubt we get much of anything for either one in a trade. I’d keep Okoye for depth but if Foster, Tate, and Ward are all healthy Slaton is probably gone.

    7) This could be a big key to the offense and I agree we need to bring him back.

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