Hard choices ahead for the Texans


Hard choices ahead for the Texans in 2015.

The Texans managed to turn a 2-14 team into a 9-7 near play off team. They did this with 4 quarterbacks and without the #1 draft pick. That says a lot about this team, where it is and where it is going. While the NFL continues with the playoffs the Texans coaching staff and back office are putting together a plan to build upon the success of this season. That starts with answering the hard questions now and facing the reality of what worked and did not in 2014.

With the Texans drafting at 16 this year, the opportunity to land a hot young stud of a QB is dim. There are far worse teams with questions under center picking ahead of the Texans only a few good prospects. Unless O’Brien really likes Oregon’s Marcus Mariot or the Florida State Seminole Jameis Winston and is willing to make a big move in the draft both of these young men will be gone by the time the Texans pick. O’Brien might have his eye on some one, but at the moment it’s really not apparent. Let’s assume the Texans don’t draft a QB this year, there is a good chance they won’t. Let’s break down the Quarterback’s first.

Ryan Fitzpatrick:

He gave the team his best season, but there is no upshot to bringing Fitzpatrick back as the starter. He’s prone to slow starts, running the ball and his skills physically aren’t on par with his intellectual understanding of the game. Letting him go is a forward looking approach. He did his best, he gave his all and we appreciate that.

Ryan Mallett:

We got to see a healthy Ryan Mallett for a single game against the Browns. He stunned and awed us with his command of the offense, his quick decisions and fast paced tempo on offense. Of the four quarterbacks started he had the best on the field presence of any of them. He’s a free agent, and free to look for other opportunities but the Texans would be fools not to try to land him for another go at starting for the Texans.

Case Keenum:

Let go prior to the start of the season to make room for Ryan Mallett who was traded from the Patriots, Keenum went from Houston to the Rams practice squad. Called up to action while sitting in a tree stand hunting to leading the Texans twice to finish off the season 9-7 beating both the Ravens and Jaguars. Bring the kid back, give him a shot. He’s got talent, but the level he can reach isn’t clear yet.

Thad Lewis:

Cut him. He was with the team for several weeks but his command, understanding and control obviously were not there as Keenum was called in to start. Nothing against him personally but that’s not a good sign.

Tom Savage:

If the Texans draft a QB, Savage should be the first name considered for releasing. He had 13 weeks of practice squad to get the offense, yet when called upon he looked completely lost. Yes, it’s true he settled down and played a better back half of the game then his start his very shaky start did not inspire confidence. Raw, talented but lacking.

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Other hard choices are primarily who to keep on a defense that played phenomenal in December. The biggest name is not Jadeveon Clowney but Brian Cushing. It’s obvious that two wrecked knees later the larger then life #56 isn’t the same beast he was at the start of the 2013 season. This is sad, really. The fans love him, his teammates love him. Can he really return to form? Obviously the Texans aren’t going to cut him, but drafting heavy on linebackers is a priority.

As for Jadeveon Clowney, his knee problem and the surgical solution to resolve it are bad ju ju all around. Few players return to form from micro-fracture surgery and often show a sharp decline within a few years. The replacement cartilage just isn’t able to replicate the lost tissue. Clowney is all about speed and burst power, two of the first things to go with this kind of injury. He’s going to have to be both dedicated to return and a lucky to be anywhere near the player his potential promised.

One other area that shouldn’t be a hard choice but for legal and monetary reasons obviously is, will be the field at NRG Stadium. The pallet tray system has been cited in the injuries of several players including former Texans Brett Harmann whose career ended when his leg was shattered after being stuck in a hole and Jadeveon Clowney who says he landed in a space between the pallets that caused his injury. Many teams hate playing in NRG because of the risks and lack of uniformity. The easy answer is to cut ties with the company doing the field and lay down an artificial surface. Renovating the field to bring in a single field like is done at Arizona is cost prohibitive and needs to be planned well before the off season begins.

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