Although the Houston Texans have only been a franchise since their inception into the NFL in 2002, over the last decade the Texans have become one of the hallmark teams of the AFC. While their first eight years in the NFL were fairly unremarkable, the strides this organization has made in the last two years is simply stunning. Not only did the Texans win their division two consecutive times for the first time in team history, they managed to garner twelve wins last season, the most in the Texans’ brief history.
Despite these impressive triumphs, the Texans still lack one key component that will take them to the next level: consistency. Despite the fact that the Texans valiantly went 12-1 in their first thirteen games last season, they lost three of their last four games in humiliating fashion. What’s worse is the Texans feeble attempts in the playoffs, particularly last year when the Texans barely beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild card round and then subsequently lost to the New England Patriots in the Divisional round.
With that in mind, the Houston Texans could easily overcome their past adversities if their secondary becomes more formidable and if quarterback Matt Schaub can remain consistent throughout the regular season.
While Matt Schaub didn’t necessarily have a breakout season last year when he threw only twenty-two touchdowns and eleven interceptions, he still boasted decent numbers that when coupled with the impressive running attack of Arian Foster. Overall, the Texans have proven to be one of the more balanced teams in the AFC with a stout defensive line that allows their dynamic offense to stay on the field for a longer duration.
Of course, the Texans imposing defense owes a large amount of credit and appreciation to their dominant defensive end J.J Watt. Although Watt is only going into his third year as an NFL player, he plays with the tenacity and instinctual awareness of a trained veteran. During the 2012 season, Watt finished with 20.5 sacks and four forced fumbles along with 81 combined tackles.
This Herculean effort by Watt effectively made him a shoe in for being the defensive player of the year that he more than earned with his imposing presence and unstoppable quickness. If Watt can emulate these one of kind characteristics this season, the Texans will have one the most empowering defensive fronts in the AFC.
Even though the Texans have a solid pass rush, their secondary still leaves something to be desired after they allowed 225.8 passing yards per game last season (16th in the NFL). While the Texans mainly focused on bolstering their receiving core and defensive front in the draft, they still acquired two safeties that should contribute avidly from day one of the regular season. In free agency, the Texans made a bold decision to require veteran safety Ed Reed from the Baltimore Ravens.
Although Reed is no longer in his prime, he is still a reputable defensive leader who can easily revitalize the Texans lackluster secondary. Last year, Reed garnered four interceptions and had 58 combined tackles, the third most in his career. As long as Reed can bring forth the same instics that made him a hallmark player in Baltimore, he’ll be a perfect fit for the Texans.
What makes the acquisition of Ed Reed even more enticing is his ability to make the young players around him even better. When the Texans selected free safety D.J. Swearinger in the second round of the draft, it became clear they did so because they wanted a young talent who could learn from one of the best.
An aggressive safety out of South Carolina, Swearinger is a solid pick up that provides an unprecedented level of tenacity that makes him an intimidating defensive force. However, this characteristic is a double-edged sword in Swearinger’s case as he has become notorious for drawing penalties. Yet, under the stewardship of Reed, Swearinger has a chance to make a new name for himself while simultaneously developing into a more disciplined safety that can make big plays without costing his team crucial yardage.
In the end, while the Texans have reloaded all the components of their team that have allowed them to be successful, their refusal to draft more defensive backs is somewhat disconcerting. Although the Texans now have a deep and young receiving corps, it won’t mean much if their defense can’t consistently uphold their turf by forcing consistent three and outs. Yet, despite these concerns, the Texans have the leadership and proven athletes to out do their previous successes.
If Matt Schaub can improve upon his previous inconsistencies along with the Texans defense living up to it’s formidable and dominant reputation, this team has a solid chance to be a worthy contender in the playoffs and perhaps in the Superbowl.