Monday, September 6, 2010

2010 Preview: Houston Texans

2009 Record: 9-7

2009 Rankings:
Total Offense - 4
Run Offense - 30
Pass Offense - 1
Scoring Offense - 10
Total Defense - 13
Run Defense - 10
Pass Defense - 18
Scoring Defense - 17

The Texans have built themselves from a team wallowing at the bottom of the league to a team on the brink of making the playoffs. Granted, they have been "on the brink" for the last few seasons and haven't been able to clear that one hurdle: namely, beating Indianapolis. The Texans closed out 2009 strong, winning their last 4, though 3 of those games came against non-playoff teams and the 4th was against New England who already had the division wrapped up. The real killer to Houston's 2009 season? The 0-4 stretch in November where they lost to Indy (twice), Tennessee, and Jacksonville.

On offense, everyone knows they can throw the ball. Acquiring Matt Schaub from Atlanta was probably the best thing this team ever did (besides drafting Mario Williams over Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and Vince Young). Schaub and Andre Johnson are the most dangerous QB-WR combo in the league. Despite having the #1 passing offense in the league, Schaub doesn't spread the ball around much. Johnson led the team with 101 catches last year, and only 3 others had over 40. Kevin Walter had 53, RB Steve Slaton had 44, and TE Owen Daniels had 40. Johnson's ridiculous 1569 yds were almost more than the next 3 receivers had combined for Houston. Their running game was downright atrocious last year, with Steve Slaton dropping the ball (literally and figuratively), Arian Foster seems to be the #1 back going into the season. If he falters, don't be surprised to see Gary Kubiak change things up to try to find something that works to take some of the pressure off Schaub.

Defensively, the front 7 is solid with anchors Mario Williams at DE and DeMeco Ryans at MLB. OLB Brian Cushing is suspended to start the season for using a growth hormone and being a moron. Their secondary isn't the best, but they get enough pressure on the quarterback to allow their defensive backs to make plays. Dunta Robinson left in free agency and the Texans drafted CB Kareem Jackson from Alabama to replace him. Jackson should be an immediate starter, and the Texans will have to deal with growing pains, particularly since Peyton Manning is going to be going after Jackson twice a season. 

All in all, this should be the best Texans team to date. In their short history, that isn't saying much, but this team has the pieces in place to make a run at the playoffs. We don't think they're quite to the level of challenging Indianapolis for the division crown yet, but they're getting there. This is still a tough division and Houston will have to play through a tough schedule, but they have the talent to get it done this year.

Ian's Prediction: 10-6

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