Houston Texans Season Preview

HOUSTON TEXANS

2012-2013 NFL Preview

written by Dan Vachalek

After what was a down year in 2010, finishing with a record of 6-10 and only winning two of the final ten games of the season, the Texans signed Jonathan Joseph, a cornerback who played for Cincinnati as well as ex-Chicago Bear Danieal Manning to help bolster up their pass defense. It definitely showed in 2011 as the Texans went to the playoffs for the first time in their franchise’s history, winning the AFC South with a 10-6 record after Peyton Manning spent the entire season on the sideline, injured, which sent Indianapolis looking for some sort of leadership all season.

The Texans, however, found that leadership just quick four games into the season as Arian Foster burst onto the scene with 155 rushing yards Week 4 in a 17-10 victory against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. As the season looked like it was right in favor of the Texans, things went downhill when they got the news of Andre Johnson injuring his leg and being forced to miss most of the season. To make matters worse, Matt Schaub ended up injuring his foot which sent him to the sideline for the rest of the season. With the playoffs looming ahead, and things getting worse after Leinart broke his collarbone in his first start of the season Week 12 vs. Jacksonville, the Texans had to rely on T.J. Yates to lead them to their first playoff appearance.

Losing the last three games of the year and the offense looking like it has taken a nosedive, the Texans were able to make it to the playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals. With Andre Johnson returning from injury, the offense got the boost it needed and won easily, 31-10. The next week featured Houston traveling to Baltimore for a Divisional Round match-up against another AFC North team. This time, things didn’t go the Texans way as they were knocked out of the playoffs after a 20-13 loss.

With the Texans and their fans looking forward to another strong season, with having Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub finally both healthy, the future looked bright, especially with a young J.J. Watt having a year of experience and hopefully being able to sign Mario Williams to a long-term extension. The Texans weren’t able to keep Mario Williams as he chose to sign with Buffalo. Eric Winston was cut from the Texans on March 13th and signed his new deal with Kansas City (four years, $22 million) on March 17th. Another lineman was lost in Mike Brisiel, who ended up signing with Oakland. The Texans made the move to clear $4.5 million in cap space with Rashad Butler filling in as his replacement for the year. Another big loss was the Eagles’ acquisition of two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans for a fourth-round draft pick which was used to select Ben Jones, a Center out of Georgia.

With eight selections in this past year’s draft, the Texans tried to help out their offense in the third round with DeVier Posey, wide receiver, out of Ohio State. He is extremely effective after the catch and is definitely a polished receiver, but seems uninvolved in the physical aspects at times. The first round selection, Whitney Mercilus, a defensive end out of Illinois, will help stop the run as that is his main strength. Very quick off the ball, but sometimes is lacking against the bigger lineman and also tends to misdiagnose run plays often. The selection of Ben Jones with Philadelphia’s selection received in the Ryans’ trade, was a solid one as he is consistent with staying with his blocks and mirroring, but is non-explosive and struggles with footwork, which, if not corrected quickly, will be a major struggle for him at this level.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Texans will be lead by Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. If all three stay healthy for the full season, the offense should be good to go. With the addition of DeVier Posey in the draft and Kevin Walter still around, the offense will just have to worry about the new plug-ins on the line.

Switching sides to the defense, the defensive line will be lead by sophomore J.J. Watt after the departure of Mario Williams with a record contract to Buffalo. Losing DeMeco Ryans are also going to be a big loss for them, but they still are going to have Brian Cushing in their linebacking core. The addition of Danieal Manning and Jonathan Joseph before last season has really improved their pass-defense and they aren’t allowing the type of yardage they use to. How the team will be without Mario Williams providing that strong pass rush is going to be a mystery that we won’t find out until the season starts, but if I’m a Texans’ fan, I have good confidence that the defense will hold up.

The Texans do have several good match-ups that they’re looking forward to on their schedule, but there are three games the Texans need to look out for. The first game that I think is a game to watch would be their match-up vs. the Green Bay Packers in Week 6, which happens to be a Sunday Night Football game. This is a big match-up, in my opinion, due to the fact that the Packers are a very good team and this is going to be their biggest test they will face all season to their secondary that is improved. If they can shut down the Packers’ passing attack and Aaron Rodgers, they will be able to stop any team and are in great position.

Another game that is a game to watch is the match-up vs. the Baltimore Ravens just the next week. The reason for the match-up to watch is that they are facing the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in Round 2. A big rebound for them would be able to defeat them.

The third game to watch is the match-up vs. New England in Week 14 on Monday Night in front of a national audience. The Patriots are going to be the team to beat in the AFC and if they win here, they can have some confidence that they can handle the best of the AFC and the road to the Super Bowl is right there for them.

I see ten wins for them this season. Week 1 through 4 in which they face Miami, Jacksonville, Denver and Tennessee with road games against Jacksonville and Denver. I see a toss-up against the Jets on Monday Night in week 5, a loss in week 6 and 7 vs. Green Bay and Baltimore. A win vs. Buffalo, a possible vs. Chicago in week 10 featuring another win vs. Jacksonville the following week. The match-up vs. Detroit in Week 12 is going to be a loss. They beat Jacksonville again, lose to New England, and win their final three games against Indianapolis twice and Minnesota in between in Week 16. My prediction for them is that they have a second-year in a row exit in the second round.

 

Second look:
By David Snipes

I do like the Texans, in more than one place I’ve seen them in the SuperBowl, my problems start with Andre Johnson, in 3 of the past 5 years he’s missed games. The Niners don’t become a legend without Rice and the Texans don’t go anywhere without Johnson. What kept them alive was Wade Phillips, who moved the Texans from 30th to 2nd in one year- if he can keep them top 5, and Bradie James fits in, this team can be scary.
The Schedule didn’t get better- swapping the NFC South and AFC North for the NFC North and AFC East, but if they can stay healthy, another 10 win season should be attainable, maybe even 12 wins if Ryans isn’t missed.
Week 14 they go to New England with homefeild on the line.

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