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PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 10: Houston Texans

Matt Schaub AP

The Texans had a long climb to respectability.

But now that they’ve achieved it, there’s suddenly a sense of unfulfilled potential.

The Texans have looked like Super Bowl contenders the last two years, but have lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs both years.

The year before it unraveled when their quarterback went down, but they squandered a chance at home field advantage after an 11-1 start last year. That makes this year seem a bit of a repeat of last year’s expectations.

But teams are now pecking away at their base of talent, and some key losses in free agency mean they’re relying on young or new players in several spots.

The Texans are fully capable of winning 12 games again, but they’ve created the questions about their mental ability to win the ones that matter most.

Strengths.

The Texans have star power at some key positions, with players such as defensive end J.J. Watt, left tackle Duane Brown, running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson among the very best in the game.

Watt’s season last year was remarkable in many ways, primarily because he dominated games from a position usually tailored to tying up blocks so other guys can make plays. His ability to change the passing game both as a sack guy (20.5) and by batting down passes is something few can match.

And the offensive stars got a lift with the addition of first-round wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who should be able to take some pressure off Johnson (and by extension, Foster) with his deep ball ability.

Weaknesses.

Quarterback Matt Schaub has been pretty good, and maybe a top 10-in-the-league caliber guy, so it’s hard to call him a true weakness. But it is getting close to the time where he either has to move up or they have to start wondering when to move him out.

He’s accurate, he’s productive, he puts up huge numbers.

But he’s not pushing into the top tier of quarterbacks until he plays better in December and January, and more and more people are starting to realize that he hasn’t done that yet. He had one touchdown pass in the last four games last season, making it no surprise the Texans only won one of them.

He’s had the benefit of excellent talent around him — with a strong running game and offensive line making play-action easier — and now’s the time for him to prove he belongs in the conversation with the very top quarterbacks.

If he doesn’t, people are going to zoom in on him as the reason the Texans are falling short, rather than one of the reasons they’re so close.

Changes.

No position sums up where the Texans are at the moment more than safety, where they lost emerging free agent Glover Quin to the Lions and replaced him with veteran Ed Reed.

On the surface, it’s a downgrade, as Reed’s been showing the wear on his tires and Quin’s an emerging playmaker.

But the Texans weren’t buying the physical presence. They’re hoping Reed’s championship experience from Baltimore, and dare we say, swagger, rubs off on his young teammates.

While mentors can be overrated (somebody still has to block and tackle), the Texans were pushing against the ceiling, and needed some kind of change to take the next step.

They’re also thinning out in a few spots on defense, as the departure of Connor Barwin puts pressure on players such as Whitney Mercilus (and to a lesser degree, Sam Montgomery and Trevardo Williams) to produce now.

Likewise, veteran nose tackle Shaun Cody’s gone, leaving Earl Mitchell to make the move from solid backup to someone they’re counting on.

Camp Battles.

The Titans used a third-round pick on Brennan Williams hoping he’d be able to push Derek Newton for the starting right tackle job.

Problem is, both have been on the sidelines for parts of the offseason with knee problems, which has kept the staff from getting a full look. Newton was unspectacular last year, and it’s reasonable to think Williams can push him right out of a job.

They’re also waiting to see which of the young wideouts can progress into more than just a training camp tease.

Hopkins, rightly so, has leapfrogged the group of players such as Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin. But they need one of those guys to become more of a threat, just in case.

Prospects.

The Texans are approaching the point the Falcons had prior to last year.

Yeah, those numbers sure look pretty, and you won a lot of games. Call us in January.

Last year’s collapse did nothing but create questions. After putting on the letter jackets and getting destroyed at New England, they lost two of the next three, and exited quietly after making a lot of noise the first three months of the season.

That’s why bringing in Reed was an obvious signal this is an all-in year.

It might work, they might be fantastic, as their roster is among the most talented in the league, and their coaches seem to know how to use it efficiently.

But until they can prove they can beat the Patriots, it won’t matter, and the moves are going to start running deeper than filling in with veteran talkers.

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30 Responses to “PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 10: Houston Texans”
  1. robf2010 says: Jul 20, 2013 9:22 AM

    The Texans are the AFC’s version of the Falcons. They play consistently well against the teams they should beat but they both fold when a good team puts pressure on them.

  2. sportsmeccabi says: Jul 20, 2013 9:28 AM

    Only at 10? They were a top 5 team last year and now they get Brian Cushing back from injury and added some weapons for schaub.

  3. steelers4385 says: Jul 20, 2013 9:43 AM

    I dont really think its the elephant in the room any more…its pretty obvious that everyone agrees that this team is built to win…but not anytime soon with shaub

  4. 561bengal says: Jul 20, 2013 9:43 AM

    This is about right. Definitely a top 10 team this year. I imagine Houston fans will think this is too low but the difference between 1 and 10 is miniscule.

  5. chargersdiehard says: Jul 20, 2013 9:53 AM

    Texans will start the season with a loss on Monday night football in front of a national audience.

  6. therealhazer says: Jul 20, 2013 10:03 AM

    Have played in a weak division and never really beat really good teams.

  7. themackstrong says: Jul 20, 2013 10:11 AM

    The season there were points the Texans looked great. Against teams with good run defense and explosive passing games they looked really bad. They may be a top AFC team but if they played in the NFC they would probably be ranked 7th in talent. 10 sounds about right

  8. galvestontexans says: Jul 20, 2013 10:13 AM

    The Titans used a third-round pick on Brennan Williams hoping he’d be able to push Derek Newton for the starting right tackle job.

    Didnt know the Titans drafted him….

  9. patriots420 says: Jul 20, 2013 10:22 AM

    The texans don’t have time for a deep playoff run they need to hurry up and loose so they can do what really matters to players like JJ Watt which is making videos of how freakishly athletic he is for a white guy by jumping onto file cabinets

  10. 1oldpro says: Jul 20, 2013 10:23 AM

    The Texans finally have a blocking fullback for Foster. They finally have a #2 wide receiver. Cushing and a healthy Earl Mitchell are better than Shaun Cody with a bad back and Brady James. Any RT is better than last year. So that leaves one huge question mark: Quarterback.
    And that is why they are only ranked #10.

  11. jetsoptimist says: Jul 20, 2013 10:27 AM

    Because of schaub I have to agree with this ranking. They will probably win 10-11games but I don’t trust them in the playoffs. Sure anything can happen once you get into the postseason.

  12. jetsoptimist says: Jul 20, 2013 10:33 AM

    Idk why I just had this vision,but I just pictured Ed reed picking off P manning to end the broncos season… Sending the texans to the SB.

  13. harrisonhits2 says: Jul 20, 2013 11:04 AM

    The Texans have a lot of great players until the bigtime pressure is on. Then they collapse and disappear like they did against the Pats last year.

    And the coaching staff relying on amateur hour motivational tactics like college letterman jackets when they went to Foxboro for the playoffs is just plain embarrassing.

  14. beerbudsnbevo says: Jul 20, 2013 11:22 AM

    If you ever have the chance to attend a Texans game in Houston, do so.

    I have seen a couple there (vs. Cowboys, vs. Patriots) and the Patriots game I saw was when Welker tore his ACL…

    At any rate, it’s a cool stadium, awesome tailgate BBQs and great vibe.

  15. bigwinintx says: Jul 20, 2013 11:38 AM

    As long as we have Schaub under center, we’ll always be an “iffy” team.
    No long ball threat, and being less mobile than a dumptruck with two flat tires on the same side doesn’t help the fanbase have faith in Matt.

    He has to prove to himself, and us, if he really can carry us further.
    More than one job will be on the line if he should faulter.

  16. vertskate900 says: Jul 20, 2013 11:57 AM

    The Texans are a Super Bowl contender? Have we been watching the same team?

  17. donnymacjack says: Jul 20, 2013 11:57 AM

    I would love to see a Texans vs Seahawks Super Bowl. Two teams that tend to run under the radar of most major media outlets. Both teams that have reason to have a bit of a chip on their shoulders and. And both teams are loaded with potential stars at both skilled and non-skilled positions. I would make for a fun matchup. And we wouldn’t have to watch 2 weeks of the babbling Harblow brothers!

  18. twoticketstoparadise20 says: Jul 20, 2013 12:06 PM

    The Texans weren’t a top 5 team by the time the season ended. They were for much of the season, bu by playoff time, the Ravens, Broncos, Pats, 49ers, Falcons, Seahawks, and Packers were all clearly better teams in terms of their level of play in the postseason (and really the last few weeks of the regular season). 10 might be a little low, of the teams not ranked yet I’d put the Texans above the Saints for sure and possibly the Bengals, but it doesn’t seem completely unreasonable in light of the way they finished up last year.

  19. jbcommonsense says: Jul 20, 2013 12:19 PM

    Though Texans/Foster are a great running team, if they use Hopkins and air it out just a bit more this team could rock. I’m wondering if Schaub’s INTs are due to predictable passing situations.

  20. joestemme says: Jul 20, 2013 12:28 PM

    I’m done with picking the Texans to win anything. They’ve been the chic pick to “go far” for a few seasons now, but they always seem to under perform. That December game against the Patriots last season was the final straw: 42-14 (and it wasn’t even that close)! The number one team in the Conference and they do an el-floppo on National TV.
    The Texans remind me of the 90s Chiefs or the 80s Seahawks – the kings of the Pre-Season predictions.

  21. southpaw2k says: Jul 20, 2013 1:02 PM

    I have a funny feeling the Colts wind up winning the AFC South this year, and the Texans miss the playoffs entirely.

  22. 12444uggg says: Jul 20, 2013 1:25 PM

    The AFC is going to come down to the Colts v Texans. Their two games likely decides the division. The Texans have never won in Indy.

  23. taintedsaints2009 says: Jul 20, 2013 2:18 PM

    Schaub could be kind of a flacco type quarterback. Doesn’t really wow anybody like a Rodgers but then all of a sudden, could go on a hot streak at the right time. We will probably see his best play when we saw flaccos best play: when his contract is up.
    .

  24. flexx91 says: Jul 20, 2013 2:49 PM

    Put the Texans ahead of the Saints? Not until Shaub can play as half as good as Brees in the post season. Don’t count last year’s debacle. The Saints will be back in 2013…

  25. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Jul 20, 2013 3:03 PM

    For whatever reason they seem to be a better regular season team than post season team. I would expect them to make the playoffs and exit pretty quickly. So 10 is about right.

  26. tabcdef9 says: Jul 20, 2013 3:36 PM

    Matt Schaub did not play with confidence or authority at the end of last season. His energetics were weak for the QB position of a playoff team, in a photo I saw today he doesn’t even look like a real Pro Football player IMO, with the necessary inner strength to grind out wins under pressure.

    Don’t know how the Texans get to conference championship level with this guy under center, even with improvements they’ve made in other areas last year and in 2013.

  27. henry53 says: Jul 20, 2013 3:53 PM

    There was no way the Texans would go any higher than 10th in the rankings this year after the two severe beat-downs they suffered at the hands of the Pats last season.
    I think the Pats will be lucky to crack the top 5 with all their problems so I guess Texans belong in 10th.

  28. htowntexan13 says: Jul 20, 2013 4:06 PM

    Let’s be real Texans. We know we have a great team. Everybody in the NFL knows about our star players.
    The problem is Schaub. The local media try to defend him as much as they can but people outside of Houston can see right through the bs.

  29. htowntexan says: Jul 22, 2013 9:59 AM

    The biggest problem is our coaching. Offense — Schaub doesn’t call the horribly conservative plays; that’s Kubiack. Defense — how were they not prepared for the quick tempo offense in New England, after they got scorched by it 4 weeks before; that’s Phillips. Special Teams — bottom five in the league for multiple years; that’s on the special teams coach (who must have something on McNair b/c there’s nothing he can do to get fired).

    That said, we have some truly exceptional players, which make up for the poor coaching. Hoping for better things this year.

  30. fosteraustralianfortouchdown says: Jul 22, 2013 1:29 PM

    Easy to blame it all on Schaub and not having viable #2 wr, but when Cushing went down and they kept loosing replacement ilb’s the defense started giving up major passing yards and scoring. Hopefully Cushing is healthy and ready to go for a whole 16 games, they desperately need him in the middle.

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