Team needs: Houston Texans

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In their 10th season of existence — and their first without having to contend with Peyton Manning — the Texans made it to the postseason.  Even though they’d rarely beaten Manning, they had no interest in joining forces with him, opting instead to keep a less accomplished starter with a bum foot and an expiring contract.  If the Texans are going to follow their best season in team history with an even better showing, they need to ensure that they have young depth at areas that have seen turnover in the offseason.

Offensive line:  The biggest strength of the offense has lost 40 percent of its starting lineup, with right guard Mike Brisiel bolting for Oakland and right tackle Eric Winston surprisingly being cut.  (He signed with the Chiefs.)  Though it would have been even worse if center Chris Myers also had signed elsewhere, the Texans need to hope that the next man up can get the job done — and that they have capable help in the event they can’t.  An infusion of youth at both positions will be critical to the continued success of the unit.

Receiver: Andre Johnson turns 31 in July.  A hamstring problem limited him to seven regular-season games in 2011.  Though the Texans don’t need to start thinking about a replacement for the third overall pick in the 2003 draft, they should start rounding up youngsters who possibly will develop into first-string talent.  Especially since they’ve had a hard time finding a first-string option across from Johnson.  The current No. 2 option, Kevin Walter, turns 31 a month after Johnson.  They need an infusion of competent youth at the position, now.

Nose tackle:  The Texans made an effective switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 without a classic nose tackle.  Shaun Cody handled the transition well (after all, they didn’t trade him to the Eagles for a bag of cheese doodles), but the 3-4 won’t be as good as it can be without the rarest of football commodities — a large, fat man who can move like a point guard.  Or at least like a shooting guard.  The impact such a player could have on the Houston defense could be the difference between a playoff win and a Super Bowl victory.

Outside linebacker:  Though the Texans have the talent to make the fans forget about Mario Williams, the fact that the Texans enjoyed quality depth behind the first pick in the 2006 draft made his absence due to injury last season easier to overcome — and it will make his permanent departure easier to handle.  Still, injuries can happen to Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed, too, and the Texans will have to be ready with a replacement who can step in and play, well.

Cornerback:  Yes, the arrival of Johnathan Joseph helped make the Houston defensive backfield much better in 2011.  But with Andrew Luck arriving in the division and Jake Locker likely to become the starter in Tennessee, they’ll need as many bodies as they can to cover receivers long enough to let the front seven get to the fresh-legged quarterbacks in the division.

The Texans will be the preseason favorites to win the AFC South again.  The challenge will be to put together the kind of record that can earn a bye week and otherwise force other teams to come to Houston in the postseason.  If they can do that, the Texans could be making the short trip to New Orleans in February.

16 responses to “Team needs: Houston Texans

  1. I think the Texans should take Coby Fleener with their first-round pick. Hold on a sec, hear me out.
    Fleener is the best TE in the draft, and the TE class as a whole is weak. They can pick up a WR or two in later rounds, as this is a deep draft at the WR position.
    The Texans do need another TE, as they run a lot of two-TE sets and they lost Joel Dreessen when he signed with Denver.
    Fleener is 6’6″, weighs around 250lb. and ran a sub 4.5 40 at his pro day. He automatically creates mismatches for any defense – LBs are too slow to cover him and safeties are too small. Kubiak’s offense is predicated on creating just such mismatches.
    All that really matters is finding as many receiving weapons for Schaub as possible; they can be TEs as well as WRs. Fleener is so versatile he’s like having a really big WR.
    There, now I’m done.

  2. I keep reading how the Texans are pre-season favorites for the Super Bowl. How do you figure that after all the off season defections and trades? They play in a weak division. They had the talent to compete but have done nothing to get better thiss off-season. The window is closed for another 5 years.

  3. It’s ironic that the Texans gave runningback Arian Foster a nice, new contract (well deserved, in my opinion) but let 40% of the offensive line go. Our line uses zone blocking, which makes it less likely they can just plug in anybody. My second concern is Andre Johnson’s (lack of) durability. The Texans need to spend a fairly high draft pick on another receiver.
    It kills me to say this, but the Titans could easily win the AFC- South.

  4. They lost some relatively unproductive players:
    Ryans – only play about 50% of defensive snaps and will never fully recover from torn Achilles
    Briesel – always hurt and split time with Caldwell. got way overpaid by Oakland.
    Dressen – second string player blocking TE, way overpaid by Denver.
    Winston – seriously declined in pass pro. underperformed based on contract.
    Allen – career journeyman.
    Mario – always injured. waaaaaaaaay overpaid. would have counted over 15% of cap for 7-8 games.

    You can’t pay everyone in a salary cap league. Don’t forget that they signed two of the best players (Foster, Myers) at their positions to long term deals and freed up space to do the same with players like Brown, Cushing, Schaub and others.

    The only loss that really hurts is Mario but the defense didn’t miss a beat with him out for 10 games and playoffs. The biggest loss is the leadership these guys brought to the locker room. If Cushing, Arian, Brown can pick up the slack they’ll be fine. But they only lost one player with a “C” on his jersey so they’re even okay here.

  5. “I keep reading how the Texans are pre-season favorites for the Super Bowl. How do you figure that after all the off season defections and trades?”

    …because we didn’t lose anyone THAT important to our success.

    Mario Williams – We finished with the 2nd best defense in the NFL without him for all but 5 games. He was out of position in our 3-4 anyway. He needs/deserves to play in a 4-3.

    Demeco Ryans – Only played on 1st and 2nd downs, subbing out for an extra DB on 3rd. He was waaaaaay overpaid to play as little as he did.

    Eric Winston – This is actually a legit loss but not as bad as has been made out. Butler could prove to be just as good given enough snaps. Winston was fairly overrated.

    Mike Brisiel – Solid starter but if you remember, he and Studdard were actually splitting snaps in the 2010 season until Studdard was injured. He was a solid but replaceable starter.

    It only seemed like we lost a bunch of great players because we did lose a number of starters. However, they were all either average players (Brisiel, Winston) or were not used enough to justify their pricetag (Williams, Ryans).

    In short…we’ll be fine.

  6. As a Texans fan, I’m not sure that drafting Coby Fleener at # 26 would be a good idea. I’d much rather have a big DT or OL help.

    I’m not saying that Fleener wouldn’t be good for the Texans but, Dwayne Allen or Charles Orson can be had in later rounds. The Texans also have Garrett Graham and Casey that can capably fill the 2nd tight end role.

  7. fernjag says:

    “I’m not saying that Fleener wouldn’t be good for the Texans but, Dwayne Allen or Charles Orson can be had in later rounds.”

    I hear what you’re saying, but I’ll respectfully disagree with you. Yes, Dwayne Allen and Orson Charles can be had, but they are a BIIIIIG dropoff from Fleener. As far as Graham and Casey are concerned, Casey is now the full-time fullback, as Vickers signed with Dallas. And I’m sorry, but Garrett Graham is not going to scare anybody on the defensive side of the ball. He’s pedestrian at best.

  8. The Texans need 1st rd talent at WR NOW!!!! They have neglected this position for years and now Andre Johnson has shown durability issues. The NFL is a pass happy league now (the last 3 teams who have won the Superbowl have been pass first offenses, and the defenses weren’t even the top 10) and with next years schedule we are gonna need to be able to score points fast. (look at the talent The Patriots have stacked up WR) Even with Yates at QB last season, if we had a legit #2 WR we could’ve gone to the AFC championship or maybe the Super Bowl had he not tried to force passes to Andre Johnson that turned into INT.

    In short, talented WR in this draft or Bust

  9. Well, as much as I would love it if the Texans took Coby Fleener at #26, it’s looking more and more like they’re going to be taking an O-Lineman with their first pick. I’ve just been hearing too many rumblings along those lines to ignore it. I guess it makes sense, considering the losses they sustained during free agency. I’m still hopeful, however, that they will not panic and take a second-round or even a third-round talent at O-Line with their first pick. I’m hoping that Fleener goes first, and then they address O-Line and WR in Round 2 and beyond, as this draft is very deep at the O-Line and WR positions.

    C’mon, Texans! Be bold with this pick! Look beyond the immediate needs for one pick and take the best player available – Coby Fleener!

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