A Titan Sized Look at the Houston Texans in 2011
By Joe Owens
The crew over at Titan Sized provided a nice write-up on what they expect from the Houston Texans this season. Brandon Clark and the boys over at the division rival site do a great job and constantly provide a fresh outlook on the Titans and everything AFC South related. Be sure to check em out. Thank you Titan Sized.
The Rise of the Texans
I’ll admit, I don’t hover around the TV overtime a slight mention of the Texans runs across the bottom of the screen. I haven’t found myself waiting for a half hour to hear the advertised update on what Brian Cushing tweeted, BUT I do feel that I have seen enough of the Texans games over the last 5 years to be able to occupy you for a few minutes and give you my perspective.
Let’s get a few of the obvious things out of the way. First Matt Schaub is and will be for at least 5 more years a “Franchise Quarterback”. Matt Schaub can win games for you. He forces defenses to plan around him. He makes the most of his weapons and with the accompaniment of a legit rushing attack, the Texans have an offense to be proud of. I’ll go one step further–they have an identity.
I remember telling a buddy of mine that if he wanted to win his fantasy football league that he needed to draft that guy the Texans got from Atlanta. Unfortunately, that was the year of the Sage “Rosencopter”. Yeah, I think we all remember that. The Colts should not have won.
Isn’t that the story of the Texans? The Colts should not have won. It remains the oddest thing I’ve seen in pro football, aside from Favre mania, in the last few years. The Colts seem to have a way to ruin the Texans season both early and late in the oddest of ways. I accept that Peyton Manning is brilliant, but explain Sage Rosenfels. I believe that this is the year the odd losses change for the Texans. The offense has been built and the defense, while playing catch-up, seems–the key word here–to be capable of not losing. I’ll even give this a title.The Defense
The Texans defense is aligned with failure. You don’t want to hear and I don’t have any intention of coming across as if I have maligned intent, however do realize that they fail most of the time. You want to know why? It’s because they are not designed to play arena football. The Texans offense bears a serious resemblance to the Colts offense of the early 2000’s. A great quarterback (P Manning/M Schaub), a true number 1 wide receiver (M Harrison/A Johnson) and an emerging runningback (E James/A Foster). You can go ahead and debate who is better and why. I’ll even throw in a slight comparison to the early 90s Cowboys (Aikman, Irvin, and E Smith). Keep debating, you can even tell me I’m wrong in the comments. I’ll try my best to defend my point.
So, back on the defense. They fail because they have not been built to play defense that should only defend high scoring games. They have never seemed to have the depth in the secondary. They never seemed to have depth on the defensive line, despite many high picks. They have been stranded, but that ended in the 2011 NFL Draft. I remember clapping at the first 3 of the Texans picks.
The Draft Class of 2011In the first round, the Texans took Wisconsin defensive end JJ Watt. I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but Watt possessed the talent to go in the top-5. He weighs nearly 300 lbs and finished in the top-5 for nearly every athletic category at the NFL Combine. He is of great character (no Kenny Britt–cue the jokes) and he can play football at an elite level in the NFL. I have no questions about this pick, I just wondered what the Texans would do with Antonion Smith. They had 3 men who could excel at the defensive end position. They entered a stage of great depth at defensive end for possibly the first time in team history.
In the second round, the Texans were able to land rush-backer Brooks Reed from Arizona. Let me just define that rush backer. He will rush the quarterback from a standup position in the 34 defense. Most people just call it outside linebacker but I feel that would confuse him with someone that can play coverage. I see this as a developing area for Reed. Reed, I feel, will get to the QB. For starters, I have learned in the last month that Mario WIlliams will now rush the quarterback from a standup position (what a waste). The offensive line can’t double everybody. Look for Reed to make big plays in his first year.
For their second pick of the second round, the Texans took cornerback Brandon Harris from Miami. My first thought would be bleeped. My second thought was great move, Texans. Harris is the type of player that would’ve been taken in the first round had he been 2-3 inches taller. He stands 5’9″. His height is more of an obstacle than a final answer. Look at it this way, you can either play or you can’t. Harris had first-round grades from many and I saw him as an early second-rounder. Great move by the Texans as they got value and need with this pick.
Shiloh Keo that safety from Idaho. I wasn’t extremely familiar with him but after watching last season, I can’t argue with adding safeties. It can’t get worse.
TJ Yates, the North Carolina QB. He was one of my favorites. He could be the backup for 6 years and then give you 3 or 4 good starting seasons. I really thought this was a good move. I would forget the supposed wants by the Texans front office to have Matt Leinart back. I would start Yates over Leinart all day every day no problem (Katt Williams reference, check it).
I have no idea who Cheta Ozougwu, LB from Rice is. I’ll just not that more defensive depth can only help. Competition is always key when building a roster.>So, there is my rundown of the the new class. Three guys that could have a serious impact on defense immediately. Isn’t that what you wanted when games slipped away last year (Ravens anyone)?
Look for the Texans to finally be able to hold games late and that leaves us with the ultimate question, Jim Mora…..PLAYOFFS? I vote yes. It will come down to the Texans and Jags to win the AFC South, in my opinion of course. I see the Colts fading due to rookie tackles getting beat on their offensive line and a bad defense. I see the Titans (who I cover) having a rough start and possibly rough finish because they will, once again–my opinion, start a rookie quarterback. If the Texans wear their battle red uniforms they will probably beat the Jags but their conference games will be key this year. If the Jags finish strong in December (there is little reference to past play that would make this possible) then the Texans will need those games for the WildCard, but I wouldn’t worry. It finally seems possible for them.
One Last ThoughtGlover Quinn probably could play safety and that would go a long way. I went to junior college with Quinn. I actually watched his high school film with him and he is a standup guy. He will do what the coach says and he will do it with as much work and efficiency as he can. He won’t hold back. Maybe Kareem Jackson improves and the defense becomes more than good enough.