There’s no secret that any championship winning team, or any playoff team, has leaders. This goes for any sport, but with the competitiveness of the NFL, and the sudden death format of the playoffs, it’s a necessary component. Teams most often have a leader in their quarterback, but the Houston Texans may have to go against the grain.
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Their quarterback situation is unsettling, to say the least. They have a choice between two quarterbacks this year, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Neither have the flashiness of some other team’s “new quarterback” choices, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their option in number one overall pick Jameis Winston, or the Tennessee Titans who look to set their hopes in rookie Marcus Mariota.
Neither Hoyer or Mallett have done much to prove they can be leaders. Mallett hasn’t gotten a lot of opportunity, but still lacks leadership in my eyes until he proves otherwise.
In any sport or league, this need for leadership to be successful is evident. Although it’s a completely different sport and playoff format, take the (now eliminated) Washington Wizards for example. Paul Pierce, although certainly older than some of the guys on the floor, shows his wisdom and playoff knowledge and constantly was the guy to go to for a final shot. Although his last shot was waved off due to time expiring, he still proved himself as a necessary component, and his leadership was evident.
At the same time, younger player John Wall was also evident as a leader, and although he missed two games in the second series, he played all through the first series, leading his team to a sweep. He’s one of the best guards in the league who, even when he was sitting out with an injury, spoke to players and stayed as involved with the games as he could.
Now, back to football. I know that’s a rabbit trail, but trust me, it coincides with any team needing a leader. And with the Texans, these two players seem to have counterparts that beautifully go right along with each other.
Let’s take Vince Wilfork for example. He is the Paul Pierce of this team. He’s the veteran, coming in from another team that recently won a championship. His wisdom is plentiful both as far as regular football knowledge goes, and in the playoffs.
Wilfork isn’t just a flashy name, either. He’s proven himself on the field, for sure. He’s totaled over 500 tackles in his career and even grabbed a fair share of interceptions. There’s no doubt he’s a threat to rushing quarterbacks.
At the same time, Wall has a Texan counterpart. His could be said to be J.J. Watt. While Wilfork has 12 seasons under his belt, Watt has a third of the experience as far as total seasons goes. Yet, he’s still proven in that short amount of time, just like Wall, that he has what it takes to be a great player, and a leader.
He’s already totaled nearly 300 tackles in his short career, with 57 sacks. He’s even had his fair share on the offensive side as well, scoring a touchdown from scrimmage last year.
My point is that the Texans can’t necessarily look to the offense for leadership next year. While Mallett may certainly grow to be a leader, he isn’t one right now, and certainly doesn’t need that pressure on him. Watt and Wilfork are already proven leaders and can continue to do that.
While other teams mainly rely on quarterback leaders anyway, why not go against the grain? Let’s give the fans in Houston something different. Let’s embrace the defense-heavy attitude and rely on that for leadership.