Joined: 21 Jan 2005
Location: Bay Area
|Posted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 12:44 am Post subject: Houston Texans Season Preview
The Texans really donít look to be any better than they were last year. Their biggest problems remain unsolved and there isnít much reason to expect major improvement. Their O-line and pass protection are still horrible and their front 7 is still a weak unit. Andre Johnson is the reason for hope on this team, but he alone cannot make the team win. The Texans do have some potential stars, but clearly the Texans need to address their O-line and LBs before they can make the playoffs.
While the Texans have great offensive talent, their O-line has been their undoing over the years and it will stay that way until they make some changes. Their decision to not draft the draftís best OT, Alex Barron, didnít make any sense. David Carr was sacked 49 times last year and clearly needs better production. Their poor O-line makes Carrís job a lot harder and also is a big reason why HB Domanick Davisí yards per carry average is so low. Seth Wand is one of the worst LTs in the league and while he is young with room for improvement, the Texansí should have found someone else to start. Victor Riley could challenge Wand for the starting job and while he is an upgrade in the run game, speed rushers will consistently get by him. RT Todd Wade has many holes in his game and is a bad starter. OG Chester Pitts is a mauler of a blocker but his technique is lacking. OG Zach Wiegert has solid technique but his lack of talent limits him. Steve McKinney is not a strong center either and the line does not have very good depth. It is one of the worst lines in football and will hold the Texan offense and team back until it improves.
The team does have one of the better QB-HB-WR combos in the league. All are young and improving, but theyíve all proved they can produce in the NFL. Andre Johnson is the star of the group, as he solidified himself as one of the NFLís elite WRs last year. On the field, he is a lot like TO in that he is a powerful player who DBs struggle to tackle and makes big plays after the catch. Also like TO, he has the speed and athleticism to do it all. He is a vertical threat, and can also work the middle of the field or catch a 5 yard out, break 2 tackles and go the distance. HB Domanick Davis is a great multi-threat back who is coming off a season where he rushed for 1188 yards and received for 588 yards. Davis hits the whole hard and slashes through it and shows the patience to wait for things to develop when necessary. He has good moves and its hard to get a clean hit on him but he also lacks top end speed. His yard per carry average was a lowly 3.9, but behind a line as bad as his, itís hard to have a good yards per carry average. David Carr, who set a record by getting sacked 72 times in his rookie year, got sacked 49 more times last year, and itís not fair on this young QB. Carr has good mobility and has shown flashes of being a brilliant player. But heís been inconsistent and has struggled at times. This is understandable because itís hard for him to get into a groove in rhythm when his pass-protection is as bad as it is.
Another problem that has plagued this offense is the lack of any receiving threats outside of Andre Johnson. Corey Bradford has been the no. 2 receiver most the time and he is usually a non-factor. Once in a while he makes a big play but he doesnít get involved in most games. Over the last 2 years, he averages 25.5 receptions a year, which is about 1.5 receptions per game. Jabar Gaffney has been a very disappointing player. He is a smooth route runner with good athletic ability but he isnít as fast as his 40 time would indicate and he is afraid to take a hit. The team would love for him to step up and be a good no. 2 target but he hasnít risen to the occasion yet. The team drafted Jerome Mathis, an exciting player and a big-play machine who could make teams pay for leaving him in single coverage. The team needs someone like this to take pressure off Andre Johnson, but Mathis isnít the most polished player and weíll have to see if he can put it together on the field. At the TE position, Billy Miller hasnít been able to put up the numbers the Texans hoped he could given his receiving skills. Mark Bruener is a good run-blocker but not much of a receiver.
The team also has the luxury of having great depth at the HB position. Jonathan Wells is a power back who played well in a couple spot starts last year. Tony Hollings is an exciting player that just hasnít been able to stay healthy. Vernand Morency is an exciting rookie who can quickly get the ball to the outside and make things happen. Domanick Davis is still the full-time starter, but having that kind of depth means good insurance and the ability to keep Davis fresh and use their players situationally.
That being said about their offense, it is their strong point. Their defense is a struggling unit. The team has a very difficult time rushing the passer and their run defense isnít very good. Their biggest problem is that theyíre running a 3-4 with a sub-par group of LBs. Their LBs are actually quite different from last year, but they probably got worse at the position. Gone is Jamie Sharper, one of the leagueís leading tacklers, and Jay Foreman, a productive ILB. The team did sign Morlon Greenwood, who was a productive LB in Miami. Greenwood and Kailee Wong will team up as the teamís starting ILBs, and while both are solid players, neither is a standout. OLB Jason Babin is a very important player because they will be counting on him to rush the passer. He is the only speed-rusher on the team and they will need him to put a lot of heat on the QB in his second year. The team hopes Antwan Peek can be used as a pass-rusher, but he needs to perfect his technique. Other LBs who might contribute include Zeke Moreno, a tough run-plugger, and DaShon Polk, a talented player who canít seem to put it together on the field.
The D-line is an interesting unit, as it may very well start 3 DTs. Seth Payne, the NT is at times an immovable object. He isnít the biggest DT, but he is incredibly strong and gets good leverage. Blockers have a hard time pushing him back and he plays with a non-stop motor. Robaire Smith is a talented DT who is used as a 3-4 end. Putting the 330-pounder outside neutralizes some of his ability as a pass-rusher. This yearís first round pick, Travis Johnson, is a DT that could see some time as a 3-4 end. He has good size and strength and is a very disruptive player, but he isnít well fit to play the 3-4 defense. He might be used as a NT at times when the team wants a more disruptive player up the middle. Gary Walker is a veteran whoís play has been declining lately, but he is still a good power end who can work well in the 3-4 and he has some pass-rushing ability. Earlier in his career, he was a double-digit sack guy, but he doesnít have the same burst he used to.
Their secondary has to be considered the strength of their defense, but even that has some problems. Dunta Robinson, who is coming off a great rookie season, is the best player of the group. He is an athletic CB who does great in coverage and made a name for himself by making plays on the ball. Despite weighing only 174 pounds, Robinson is a physical and aggressive player. CB Phillip Buchanon is an exciting player who makes a lot of big plays but he is also a liability in coverage and he gets picked on a lot. FS Marcus Coleman, a converted CB, is a hitter and matches up well in coverage. He doesnít have the speed he used to and could be a more consistent against the run, but he is a very solid FS. The weakness on their defense is at SS, where Glenn Earl starts. Glenn Earl is a physical, aggressive run stopper, but he is not good in coverage. He simply doesnít have good range or speed and there isnít a lot of hope for him to improve in coverage. The Texans donít have a deep secondary either. DeMarcus Faggins has solid coverage skills and makes for a decent nickel back and Chris McKenzie is an exciting rookie. The team doesnít have good backup safeties and would struggle if injuries set in here.
The Texans didnít do well to address their weaknesses in the offseason. The team needs to improve their O-line and get a standout LB and a good complement to Andre Johnson to get into the playoffs. Right now they are just not on the level of division rivals Indianapolis and Jacksonville and the playoffs are a longshot for them. Important to the Texansí future will be the development of Phillip Buchanon and David Carr. And until this expansion franchise makes the effort to tackle their problems in the off-season every year will continue to be a developmental year.
Houses on my wrists. Whips on Fists. Your budget on my neck. Your spouse on my -.