Wednesday, August 12, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Houston Texans
2008 RECORD: 8-8
(3rd in AFC South)
HEAD COACH: Gary Kubiak
Key Additions: DL Antonio Smith (FA/Cardinals) QB Dan Orlovsky (FA/Lions) LB Cato June (FA/Buccaneers)
Key Losses: QB Sage Rosenfels (trade/Vikings) DB C.C. Brown (FA/Giants) CB Demarcus Faggins (FA/Titans) RB Ahman Green (FA)
Offense: Quarterback Matt Schaub had a breakout season of sorts for the Texans in 2008 after throwing for 3,043 yards and 15 touchdowns to go with 10 interceptions. Schaub ranked fourth in the AFC in passing and will be back again in '09 as the starter.
Running back Steve Slaton also burst onto the NFL scene in 2008 by rushing for 1,282 yards for a 4.8 ypc average and nine touchdowns. Vonta Leach is the fullback and provides solid lead blocking for Slaton and gets an occasional carry as well. The backup to Slaton is Ryan Moats.
The wide receivers are led by Andre Johnson, who led the NFL in receiving with 115 catches for 1,575 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Kevin Walter made 60 catches for 899 yards (15.0 ypc average) and scored eight touchdowns. Andre Davis and David Anderson are the backups and the Tight End is Owen Daniels.
Daniels had 70 catches for 862 yards and two TDs in '08 and is backed up by Joel Dreesen.
The offensive line has center Chris Myers, guards Chester Pitts and Mike Brisiel and tackles Eric Winston and Duane Brown starting and versatile Rashad Butler and Antoine Caldwell are reliable substitutes.
The offense is solid and ranked third overall in the NFL in 2008 and fourth in passing with 280 yards passing per game. The rushing attack was 13th overall (115 yards per game).
Defense: This is an area that needs to improve if the Texans are going to get over the hump and make a serious run at the playoffs.
Houston ranked 22nd overall on defense last year, giving up 347 yards per game while allowing 123 yards on the ground and 224 through the air. They also allowed 394 total points, which placed them at 27th in the league.
The defensive front has Mario Williams (12 sacks in '08) at Right Defensive End and newcomer Antonio Smith coming over from Arizona via free agency at the left end spot. The defensive tackles are Travis Johnson and Amobi Okoye.
The linebackers are DeMeco Ryans (middle LB) and outside backers Zac Diles and Xavier Adibi. Free agent Cato June comes over from Tampa Bay and adds depth to the unit.
The secondary includes safeties Eugene Wilson and Dominique Barber and cornerbacks Jacques Reeves and Dunta Robinson. Reeves led the Texans with four interceptions last season as the team managed just 12 for the season.
Rookies Brian Cushing (linebacker from USC) and Connor Barwin (DE from Cincinnati) were drafted high for a reason and will get their chances to help improve the Texans' defense.
OUTLOOK: The Texans finished .500 in 2008 and out of the basement in the AFC South however, a return there would be no real surprise as the Colts, Titans and Jaguars are always ready to play.
Houston Head Coach Gary Kubiak has a solid offense to build around with Schaub, Johnson and Slaton in the mix.
The defense has a lot to prove as 2009 gets going.
If the Texans can get a better pass rush (the team had only 25 sacks in 2008) and get more picks from the secondary, that would bode well as the offense would have more opportunities to put up points.
Houston showed they can play against the Colts, who up until last season, was THE perennial power in the AFC South. The Texans lost two very close games to Indy and they know they can compete after getting off to a 0-4 start in '08 before coming back to finish at 8-8.
The key for success in '09 will be overall consistency and improvement from the defense.
A playoff spot? Maybe. The Falcons and Dolphins showed the turnaround can be quick, so why not Houston?
The answer to that question remains to be seen and it's likely the Texans may need more time to get there. Look for Houston to go 7-9 in '09 and look forward to better things in the future.
Week 1-vs. NY Jets (Sept. 13)
Week 2- at Tennessee (Sept. 20)
Week 3- vs. Jacksonville (Sept. 27)
Week 4- vs. Oakland (Oct. 4)
Week 5- at Arizona (Oct. 11)
Week 6- at Cincinnati (Oct. 18)
Week 7- vs. San Francisco (Oct. 25)
Week 8- at Buffalo (Nov. 1)
Week 9- at Indianapolis (Nov. 8)
Week 10- BYE WEEK
Week 11- vs. Tennessee (Nov. 23)
Week 12- vs. Indianapolis (Nov. 29)
Week 13- at Jacksonville (Dec. 6)
Week 14- vs. Seattle (Dec. 13)
Week 15- at St. Louis (Dec. 20)
Week 16- at Miami (Dec. 27)
Week 17- vs. New England (Jan. 3)