Texans Tea: Texans ready for AFC South
Texans prepared to take over AFC South
On the eve of preseason and with the regular season just around the corner, the GZL is up and running and the Texans for one appreciates all the work done by the commishes.
"It is a thankless job, literally like herding 32 cats," commented Texans GM Tim Miller. "I have done it before and you can never please all of the people. Some people want it to go faster, some people want more time, and some people just disappear. I appreciate what Garth has done and what AF is doing."
Then he added with a grin, "Because it is that much closer to us being able to stomp some Titan BUTT!"
Training camp in Houston has been completed and they are definitely looking bigger, faster, and stronger. New playbooks have been tried, new players have been worked into the team, and things are starting to work like a well-oiled machine.
Even the experts agree.
"(Titans GM Tim) Nissen is a bum! Gave him the best VIP dance of his life, told me he was going to the ATM for cash, and he ran out!" commented Judy Baker, aka Trixie from Gold Diggers. "Texans are going to walk all over them!"
"In my opinion, the Texans have the tools, they have the coaching staff, and the have the players," explained CBS commentator Rony Tomo. "I mean, they could get a better QB if they signed me, but they just need to find the discipline and the right playbook, but the definitely improved their team much more than the Titans this offseason."
"We are seeing big money being put down on the Texans winning the AFC South with 10-11 wins," a source from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas confirmed. "At first it was just trickling in, but, once the controversy started, the spigot really opened."
What was that controversy?
Balls, but not deflated footballs like Deflategate. No, we are talking the ones attached to a man's body and it starts at the top.
Titan whistleblowers have confirmed that if they are down at halftime, they all have to strangely change their jockstraps. And that is when the burning begins, along with the smell of Icy Hot.
A former Titans equipment manager says he has text messages from a Phoenix area cell phone with the message "Light them up!" He claims they come from Titans GM Tim Nissen.
Former Titans left guard Andres Crawford thought there was something going on and was incensed. "He is messing with my family jewels man! I mean, yeah, it woke me up, it got me mad, and I took it out on the other team. But those are my jewels!"
Nissen has denied any allegations, but the league has stepped in and disallowed any topical pain relief products in the Titans locker room plus has a special dog now located as the players exit the locker room to check for the existence of any cream being applied.
"Just sad what some people will do to gain an advantage," sighed Miller. "It will be good for all of football when we take him down this year."
This has been Ilika Footlong reporting.
(by T_Miller on 11/06/2017)
Replies - 1 :: Views - 13
Texans Tea: Ready to play!
|Texans ready to play
With preseason set to start next week for the 2023 season, the Texans have been working hard to implement changes as well as integrate new players and rookies. We sit down with Texans GM Tim Miller at one of his favorite locations, a VIP room at Treasures on Westheimer Rd, to talk about training camp, the offseason practices, and the preseason.
Ilika: Tim, thanks for sitting down with us for Texans Tea.
Tim: Sure Ilika. I love talking Texans football. About the only thing I like as much as Texans football is supporting these single mothers here at Treasures.
Ilika: Um, yes, we have noticed, especially when you wrote it into your contract when you accepted the job. Any way, how has the team looked so far?
Tim: Just a moment Ilika, did I show you my new tattoo? Here it is:
Ilika: Um very nice, but I have no idea why you got it there!
Tim: OK, the season! I am excited for the season! I am not sure I have ever been so excited for a season!
Ilika: Really? Why do you say that?
Tim: Well, I loved the team I inherited, I love the free agents we picked up, but I think I love the rookies the most.
Ilika: How is the team gelling?
Tim: Like the jello they use here every Thursday night! The mentors have started mentoring, the rookies have been listening, and the coaches have been able to add things they have not tried in the past.
Ilika: Like what?
Tim: Well I cannot go into specifics but if the teams around the league crowd the box for young (rookie running back Jelani) Temitope, (QB Kendall) Irving will hurt them downfield. And if they try to shut down Irving, heaven help them if they like Temitope build up any steam! The teams in the AFC South will be needing to soak on Mondays from the bumps and bruises they receive. On the defensive side, (CB Nigel) Malone and (CB Micah) Price are tutoring Conley and he is coming along swimmingly. Already faster than what we timed him at the combine, that boy is going to be a difference maker. And the rush being put on by Shante Redman, Joey Bosa, and Akeem Spence is really freeing up our linebacking corp nicely to defend the run or the pass. We have some speedy linebackers!
Ilika: So, do you know who you are playing in preseason yet?
Tim: No, but it doesn't really make a difference to us. We feel like we can get through the preseason injury free and we keep our preseasons pretty vanilla. So we will be playing starters but we will save our game plans for the regular season.
Ilika: We have heard reports of fighting in the camp?
Tim: That is just part of the mentality of losing that we are trying to drive out of Houston. Guys say some wise crack like "Your momma is a Titan lover" or "You're playing like a Titan" or "Your momma is from Nashville!" really gets people's panties in a twist. I like the fire and encourage it, but we cannot let it go too far.
Ilika: Have you come up with any goals for the team?
Tim: Sure. #1 Beat the Titans, #2 Beat the rest of the teams in the AFC South, #3 return to the playoffs. Those are our current goals. These have really united the team, but we still need to win some games to lift morale.
Ilika: OK, thanks Tim. Any last thoughts?
Tim: Can't think of anything right now with Bubbles coming to the stage! See ya!
This has been Ilika Footlong reporting.
(by T_Miller on 10/26/2017)
Replies - 1 :: Views - 19
Texans Tea: Special Training Camp Report
|Texans looking forward to 2023
A recap of 2022
After losing seasons in 2019, 2020, and 2021, Texans fans were ready for something new, like maybe a winning season. Even better, perhaps a return to the playoffs? They could dream couldn't they?
Texans GM Paul Willis felt the same way. A few seasons of going through the motions had not gotten them any closer to the Tennessee Titans, and some of his key players were getting up there in age. He was losing his window and he knew it.
Basically content with his roster, the Texans only made a few preseason moves, basically signing a few players as roster fillers. Willis knew who he could count on and knew what he wanted to do. It was going to come down to Kendall Irving, Trent Richardson, and that awesome offensive line on offense. On defense, he needed Joey Bosa, Nigel Malone, Buddy James, and Blaine Ambrose to get that side of the ball motivated and ready to go.
Willis conferred with his coaches and agreed they they would present a run first attack on offense while running a conservative 4-3 on defense. They hoped both sets of gameplans would have them set up for whatever might be thrown at them.
The Texans came out of the gate ready to play. Their first week saw them traveling to Atlanta to take on the Falcons and Bo Callahan. While it was not a pretty game, the patient attack of the Texans outlasted the passing attack of the Falcons with the Texans running the ball 35 times compared to the Falcons 11. When the Texans did throw, Irving was masterful, going 20 of 29 with 1 touchdown and, most important, no interceptions. The Texans were happy to leave Atlanta 1-0 after the 16-13 victory.
Week 2 saw the Texans home opener and another NFC South foe in the New Orlean Saints. Another week, another hard fought battle, another close game. Unfortunately the Saints scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter while the Texans could only score a field goal and that ended up being the difference in the game as the Saints won 20-16. Irving was again his conservative self going 13 for 20 with another touchdown and no interceptions. The running game did not fare as well, only gaining 78 yards on 35 carries with a fumble by Trent Richardson. Overall, the offense only gained 196 yards on the day.
Week 3 sent the 1 and 1 Texans to San Diego where they seemed to be looking at the cheerleaders more than the game. They allowed Tyler Wilson to throw for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns on only 9 completions. On offense, Kendall Irving got knocked out and Kiante Green had to finish the game at quarterback. Trent Richardson finally broke a long run of 65 yards and went over 100 yards rushing, but had another fumble. The Texans ended up losing 47-13 after spotting the Chargers a 31-6 halftime lead.
Week 4 found the Texans at 1 and 2 and in third place in the AFC South behind the 3-0 Titans and the 2-1 Colts. They also found themselves having to rely on a backup quarterback since Irving was going to be out for a week or longer. So, they dove into AFC South play by heading up to Indianapolis to take on the Colts.
And something happened. Something finally seemed to click for this Houston team. They beat the Colts to move to 2 and 2 and 1 and 0 in the division. Then came a game in Denver against the Broncos. Again, they came out on a top. Finally home again, they took on the Cincinnati Bengals, who would go on to win the AFC North and represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. And another hard fought victory for the Texans. Then the Raiders came to town, and in true shoot-out style, they sent that team back to Oakland even blacker after pasting them 33-23.
The Texans were on a roll! A four game winning streak and sitting at 5-2 and 1-0 in their division! With a huge home game against the Titans coming up. The Titans came in a 6-1 and 3-0 in the division having swept the Colts and barely beating the Jaguars. Could this be the season?!
Sadly no. The Texans were thrashed by the Titans 30-3 and thrashed in all phases of the game. The Titans gained 485 yards compared to the Trent Richardson-less Texans 135 yards. For the game! Kendall Irving had a horrible game going 9 for 25 for 84 yards with 2 picks, 4 sacks and 0 touchdowns. Michael Thomas had 2 drops and Danny Cieszko just was not given the ball enough to get going. The upstarts had been shut down.
After that it was pretty much a lifeless season for the Texans. They managed to defeat the Jaguars the following week to get to 6-3 but three straight losses to the Bills, Panthers, and Buccaneers saw them settle back to 6-6.
There was some hope after they throttled the Chiefs 57-17 and even a little more hope as they beat the hated Titans 27-24 in week 15 to get back to 8-6. But back to back season ending losses to the Jaguars and Colts saw them end the season at 8-8 and out of the playoffs again.
For the season the Texans offense ended up being 21st in scoring, 25th overall, 31st in passing, and 6th in rushing offense. For the season they were only 35% on third down conversions. They only scored 86% of the time they reached the red zone, and less than half of those were touchdowns. They did not do horribly with turnovers with only 18 total between 12 picks and 6 fumbles lost.
The Texans defense was 28th in scoring, 28th in total defense, 31st in passing, and 8th against the rush. Teams scored 92% of the time they reached the red zone against them. They were 17th in the league in sacks and tied for 17th with 24 takeaways.
Despite all this, the Texans did have three representatives in the Pro Bowl: wide receiver Jordan Page, right guard Dallas Thomas, and defensive end Joey Bosa.
Overall, they knew they needed to improve, especially after seeing Tennessee go 13-3 and make it to the AFC Championship game again.
The offseason begins
After enjoying the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl, there was some upheaval in the GZL as multiple general managers just were not sure they were up to another season. One of those was the Texans GM Paul Willis. Willis reportedly went to the Bahamas to take some time off, and ended up tweeting in his resignation letter from a Senor Frogs on a bar napkin. The tweet went viral as the napkin read "F**k off losers! I quit! Keeping my a$$ in the sand!" with an upside down cow head draw crudely on the bottom.
So the Texans began a GM search. The former Redskins and Chiefs GM Tim Miller heard about the opening and threw his hat in the ring for the position. The league basically said "Anyone else? Anyone?", got no responses, and realized they were stuck with Miller as the new GM of the Houston Texans.
Miller came in, tried talking with the players and immediately saw the morale problem. Miller invoked league bylaw 3.14 regarding morale and a new GM, and the GZL intervened with a "morale booster". No one is quite sure what is involved in said "moralel boosters" but a van with the tagline of "Happy Endings" pulled up and out piled a whole team of female masseuses that looked like the Swedish bikini team.
Miller was also looking for money and unfortunately Trent Richardson fell in his sites. Trent's skills had steadily been diminishing over the years and it just got to the point where his contract was too big for his skill set.
The Texans extended an RFA offer to cornerback Marlon Barrett that he accepted after no one else came calling.
The Texans also looked to keep the line intact by putting the franchise tag on extremely talented but very disgruntled center Khaled Holmes. They also resigned outside linebacker Randy Gregory to a new 5 year deal to try and keep the defense intact as well.
To try and prevent more loss, the Texans made match qualifying offers to free safeties Osvaldo Norris and Blaine Ambrose, wide receiver Erich Carey, and cornerback Dre Hall.
The Rams came with deep pockets after Hall. Miller struggled with the decision but ultimately ended up letting Hall go. "We didn't want to go too far in debt knowing what we still had to achieve," mentioned Miller. "If it had been someone in the AFC, especially the AFC South, then we may have been more aggressive. Plus, if we would have known Ambrose's posture, we would have done things differently as well."
No one ended up bidding on Ambrose, Norris, or Carey. However, when they went to make an offer to Ambrose, the Texans learned that no amount of money was going to get him to return. "He was just too far gone," sighed Miller. "Did not think we could right the ship."
Norris and Carey returned to the team.
The Texans were not terribly aggressive in the pre-draft round of free agency, mainly looking to fill the hole left by Ambrose and the need for a kicker. They were happy when veteran safety Kenny Vaccaro answered the call and accepted their offer. On the kicking front, the Texans went hunting for another veteran and ended up landing "the man with the cannon leg" in Triton Janikowski. Janikowski was left unprotected by the 49ers after only hitting 87% of his field goals last season after having hit over 94% the previous 3 seasons. Janikowski also puts over 26% of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
The Texans went into the draft with 1.14, 2.14, 4.14, 5.14, 5.24, 6.14, and 7.14. They came out with the same number but less one 2024 pick.
They had needs obviously at running back, could use a corner replacement for Hall, and openings at center, defensive end, and even punter.
They came out with 7 picks that they feel good about....
The Texans debated on this pick. They had originally targeted a running back for this slot but saw top prospects Joe Mixon and Damon Washington already gone off the board. They were seriously eyeing defensive end Solomon Thomas, but the Saints also snatched him up before the Texans could move. So when it came time to pick, Miller sent in the card for the sure all... a tall, fast cornerback and that is what they got in Ohio State's Gareon Conley. At 6'2" and 210 pounds, Conley has been battled tested in the tough Big 10 and played in the national championship play in games. He has good strength for a corner along with excellent agility, jumping, and toughness. He is fairly aware for a rookie corner although the Texans know they will have to work on his catching and acceleration. Overall, they are very pleased with their pick and he should see the field right away. "We are fortunate to have some mentors for young Gareon so we can keep him at nickel or, as matchups allow, into either the CB1 or CB2 positions," explained Miller. When asked about any concerns about his off the field issues, Miller brushed them aside. "We did our own investigation into the issues to see what the outcome would be. Our legal team assured us that the accusations were not based on anything and he would not be serving any time." Conley was a three time all Big 10 selection and a 2 time all American selection as a Buckeye. He hopes to contribute right away.
The Texans had their corner but they still did not have their running back. As the first round ended and the second began, Miller got anxious (or some say bored) and saw some great prospects still on the board and decided to make a move. Nic St. Marie and the Seahawks came a calling. The Texans paid a huge price in sending their second round pick and their 2024 first round pick to Seattle for the fifth pick in the second round and the Seahawks 2014 4th round pick. But Miller felt it was needed... and he wanted to leave. So it was going to come down to either Texas' own D'Onta Foreman or Clemson's Jelani Temitope. The Eagles made the decision easier by taking Foreman at 2.2 and the Texans gladly took Temitope at 2.5. The 5'10", 250 pound bruiser was one of the strongest running backs in the class while also being considered the best at breaking tackles. "At 5'10" there is just nothing for the defense to hit," commented Miller. "But if they do, they bounce off the 250 pounds fireplug. I cannot wait to see the first cornerback who has to tackle him on a sweep!" Temitope took a while to get into the starting backfield at Clemson, originally slated as a fullback because of his size, but once he got there he stayed. He was an all-ACC selection his sophmore and junior years while helping lead Clemson to a national championship. He decided to leave early and the Texans are the beneficiaries of the move. The Texans may take one of his strengths, his strength, and increase it. They also know they need to work on his catching and ball carrying, but overall, they are very happy with the pick.
Houston did not have a third round pick, and rather than giving up more of the future, they decided to stand pat and see what fell to them in the fourth round. And they are happy that they did as they landed an extremely nice prize in Alabama center Kent Kerrera. The 2nd team SEC offensive lineman stands 6'3" and comes in at 308 pounds. Kerrera was a two year starter at Alabama. The Texans are excited to get him into camp to see if his combine numbers match up with real life. Kerrara is excited to be mentoring under Holmes and is happy to be blocking for Temitope instead of being on the opposing sideline. "We hope he is the heir apparent to Khalid but can spend a season or two learning from him," commented Miller.
The Texans started drafting for need in the fifth round, beginning with punter Salas Major out of the University of Cincinnati. Salas only took up football in his senior year of high school, but was good enough to walk onto the Bearcats and eventually earned a scholarship. While not known for the coffin corner kicks, he possesses decent leg strength that Houston hopes special teams coach Tillman can work on and improve.
Houston filled their defensive end need with the 24th pick in the fifth round. With it, they selected Alphons Miers out of Memphis. Miers stands at 6'5" and 279 pounds and is known for his speed at the combine. His strength, agility and acceleration could improve, but for a fifth round pick, the Texans were happy. Twice voted as the American Athletic Conference defensive player of the week last season, Miers was a definite disruption to the opposing team's passing game. "Game film showed him just getting past the tackle before the tackle knew what had happened," mentioned Miller. "We hope we can capitalize on that."
Round 6 saw the Texans go back to best player available. The Texans were happy to still see safety Jackson Applebee available after initially targeting him as early as the fourth round. "We liked what he showed at the combine for speed and agility," commented Miller. "While he is only 5'11", he comes in at 216 and he has been relatively injury free and tough from having gone through the gauntlet of SEC games for four seasons." The Texans cannot wait to get Applebee into their own training facility to truly get him measured and see how he grades out. "Only problem is that everytime I say his name, I get hungry!" laughed Miller. Again this was not a position of need for the Texans but it is a spot where Applebee could mentor under newly acquired Vaccaro.
The same could be said for the Texans seventh round pick, offensive tackle Liam Cox from Montana. The Texans were in a bit of auto-pilot at this time but ended up with a pleasant surprise in the 22 year old, 6'4", 329 pound lineman. "He is a little raw in his technique and his knowledge of the game," mentioned Miller. "But we have Menelik Watson, who can mentor him for a few seasons, if all the rest of Liam's measurables come out decent." Simply based on their combine numbers, the Texans like Cox's speed and acceleration and toughness. Cox was a two year starter at Montana after transferring there from Blinn County Junior College in Texas where he helped them win a national juco championship.
"Like I said, overall we are very happy with this draft class," mentioned Miller. "We got what we needed at the top, middle, and bottom and we have the talent to let them develop where needed. We just need to get everyone into training camp and get started!"
All the new rookies were offered a contract and showed up for their first minicamps and there were a few surprises...
Fourth round pick Kent Kerrera was faster and stronger than the Texans originally anticipated but he seemed to lose a step of quickness off the line. His pass blocking and run blocking also seemed diminished from their combine levels.
Fifth round pick, punter Salas Major, was a little less aware than his Wonderlic showed and his leg was not quite as strong as advertised. But his kicking accuracy seems to have increased, so the Texans were pleased that they were not going to have to get one from free agency.
The Texans other fifth round pick, defensive end Alphons Miers, had definitely worked out since the combine. He was stronger, more aware, more agile, and had better acceleration than he had shown even during private workouts.
The Texans sixth round pick, Jackson Applebee, was a bit of a disappointment. His speed, strength, awareness, agility, acceleration and catching were all at a lower level than what he had showed during previous workouts. While this does not necessarily doom his future with the Texans, it does not help.
The Texans seventh round pick, offensive tackle Liam Cox, was basically as advertised. While he lost a little agility, he was actually quicker off the line. And his pass blocking dropped when he started playing against real players.
2023 Training Camp and Mentors
Texans GM Tim Miller put an demand on his new team: "You will attend training camp and you WILL do offseason conditioning." And the Texans responded, seemingly happily.
Wide receiver Michael Thomas took to the new regime quite well. He was reported to have been working with the trainer from the Jamaican sprinting team and it seemed to have increased his speed.
Rookie punter Salas Major responded well to Special Teams Coach Tillman's workout plan and regained some of the leg strength that he had lost since the combine. He reported did one legged squat thrusts with multiple sets until the leg was stronger.
Corners Micah Price and rookie Gareon Conley took the simple "Apple a Day" plan to new heights and showed up seemingly less injuy prone.
There were a few positions where the coaches wanted more weight, so the food buffet was open to them. Middle linebacker Carroll Phillips was able to gain 10 pounds but maintain his speed going from 240 pounds to 250.
Rookie Alphons Miers was already a physicial specimen, but added a desired 10 pounds to get his weigh up to 289.
Those apples, plus daily workouts with the American bobsledding team and Herschel Walker, saw rookie corner Gareon Conley increase his speed and acceleration to levels that will really help the team and make it tough to keep him at nickelback.
Second round pick Jelani Temitope worked on his squats but was also able to keep his hips loose. It was reported that he was seen trying out for "So you think you can dance?" and getting some private "after hours" lessons from some of the instructors. Whatever was done seems to have improved his strength and his agility.
Defensive end Alphons Miers did multiple practices off of the line to eventually get them perfect. This really increased his acceleration and will help him down the road.
"One of the benefits of a veteran team, such as what we have," commented Texans GM Tim Miller. "Is their ability to pass on their knowledge. We encourage mentoring and believe it helps the entire team."
Center Khaled Holmes will be expected to mentor the rookie Kent Kerrera to increase his awareness and skills.
Corner Micah Price will teach rookie Gareon Conley and third year player Sampson Wasser, how to watch the quarterback and turn errant throws into interceptions.
Offensive tackle Menelik Watson is expected to work with young Billy Deere and Liam Cox in order to show them the proper ways to protect the quarterback and make new holes for running.
Defensive tackle will work with Kerry Jefferson on his tackling and stopping the runner.
Newly acquired free safety Kenny Vaccaro will have his hands full learning a new defense, but also teaching rookie Jackson Applebee the proper angles to catch and tackle.
Outside linebacker Buddy James will work with Pietro Peace and Chris Ebner to be better linebackers with their tackling and awareness.
"Most of these are players that have been in the league for a while and know what it takes to be a great player," explained Miller. "So the entire team will benefit from that knowledge."
2023 Season and Position Battles
"We have two goals for the season:" explained Miller. "Beat the Titans and make the playoffs, preferrably as AFC South Champs. If nothing else, we will have the Titans 'Remember the Texans'!" Miller almost fell down laughing at that one.
The Texans were able to retain some of their most important assets: most notably their offensive line, their quarterback, and their top receiver. Jelani Temitope will step into the starting role at running back and the Texans expect him to get those tough yards but also run through the arm tackles.
"With Kendall Irving and the line coming back, it gives us a lot of options on the offensive side of the ball," commented Miller. "Kendall can go deep, go short, or knows when to check down and hand off to Jenali."
Trent Richardson will not be easy to replace but this team has been so dedicated to the run for so long, the linemen know their roles, as well as the fullback and tight ends.
There will not be a lot of differences on the defensive side of the ball either. While the loss of Blaine Ambrose and Dre Hall are nothing to sneeze at, the Texans feel like Kenny Vaccaro and the rookie Gareon Conley will more than make up for their loss. In fact, Vaccaro will be able to be a mentor, something that Ambrose was not able to be. And Conley already be at the same speed with better agility and acceleration than Dre Hall plus that all important inch of height with better jumping ability.
The Texans are still not sure whether they will be playing a 3-4 or a 4-3, but the line seems able to play either way. The one area of weakness may be the middle linebackers lack of experience and awareness, but if that can be improved, this defense could be formidable.
The Texans also feel like they improved at least their kickoffs and field goals with the acquisition of Triton Janikowski. Janikowski's big leg will allow more field goals and more touchbacks. Salas Major may have some struggles this season, but he will also improve.
From the rookie aspect, Conley, Temitope, and Major will start immediately. Kerrera will get some time on special teams while Miers may get rotated in on the right end side as he develops.
Overall this should be a team that can improve on 8-8 and they expect to be in the playoffs come December.
"And one last thing," exclaimed Miller. "Titans suck!!!"
This has been Ilika Footlong reporting.
(by T_Miller on 09/29/2017)
Replies - 4 :: Views - 68
Texans Tea: Meet the new GM
Texans welcome Miller
The Houston Texans finally got around to introducing their new GM, Tim Miller, today. Tim sat down with our own Texans beat writer, Ilika Footlong, to talk about the Texans, the Titans, the Oilers, and the AFC South in general.
Ilika Footlong: This is Ilika Footlong here with our first insight into the Texans new GM, Tim Miller. Tim, welcome back to the GZL and welcome to the AFC South!
Tim: Thanks Ilika. Titans suck. It is great to be back in the GZL, such a wonderful well run league. Titans suck. I look forward to dominating the AFC South for years to come. Hashtag Titans suck.
Ilika: Wow! That is quite a bold statement right off the bat!
Tim: Is it, (Titans suck) Ilika? Is it really that far fetched to see a team that has so much talent on offense and so much talent on defense in a division where 9 and 7 can win the division??!! (Titans suck)
Ilika: So is that why you picked the Texans upon your return?
Tim: That and getting to play against Tim "Bridesmaid" Nissen twice a season were quite attractive to me. Another thing that attracted me was how put together this team already was. Paul (former Texans GM) did not leave the cupboard dry.
Tim: Yeah you know... Always a bridesmaid, never a bride?... Oh never mind (titans suck!)
Ilika: And the first thing you do is cut Trent Richardson?
Tim: Well the first thing I did was try to find out why everyone was uphappy and raise morale. And then I cut Richardson. Since then I have been working on getting players with expiring contracts to re-sign and also get started on our draft board. We have decent picks so I am hoping we can put them to good use.
Ilika: Speaking of morale, it still seems as though your team has some issues? Rumors are that free safety Blaine Ambrose would not resign with the team?
Tim: Yeah, even though I put in one way glass to the cheerleaders showers and made Topless Tuesdays mandatory, some of them are just not cheering up. We will just have to do some good old winning.
Ilika: Some say you took this team just to beat the Titans and Tim Nissen?
Tim: Ha! That guy! Listen... Houston had a tradition rich in the NFL with the Oilers and such players as Warren Moon and Earl Campbell. Then some fancy pants like Nissen offered cheap bikini waxes in Nashville and the whole team moved and became the Titans. Well, good riddance! Texas has a great team now!
Ilika: Are you speaking of the Cowboys?
Tim: No! Are you high? I have no idea what Van Wagner is doing in Jerry's world and I don't care. They are not in our division. I am talking about the Houston Texans!
Ilika: So any hints on which way you are leaning in the draft?
Tim: Well, let's see... I let one of our top corners walk, I cut our starting running back, and I could not sign our starting free safety. So... I could throw a dart and hit paydirt!
Ilika: Well that has been enough for today. Thank you for the insight and we are looking forward to this season.
Tim: Thank you Ilika. God bless the Texans! Titans suck! (copyrighted) Hashtag MusicCityMiracleWasAForwardLateral
This has been Ilika Footlong reporting.
(by T_Miller on 09/22/2017)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 19
Texans 2020 Training Camp
|Previous Season Recap: (506 words)
Last year I wasn’t in charge of the team, but the team had a losing record, finishing 6-10. The best thing I can do is go back and look at the stats and get a better look at what the game plan was, what was successful, and what wasn’t.
The team lost every divisional game last season, and you can’t expect to go very far without being able to compete against division rivals. We started off the season at a reasonable 4-4, only to win 2 of the next 8 games. This marks only the 3rd time in team history that the Texans have finished below .500, and the 4th year in row missing the playoffs.
The first thing I noticed was the spread between running and passing the ball. We passed the ball for 57.8% of the time, and that was rather surprising. With that much passing, I think it gets the depth guys too many reps, and which leads to some poor offensive play. Quarterback Kendall Irving has the skill to make the plays, but isn’t surrounded with enough talent to get it done consistently. This is the 4th year in a row where he’s seen a QBR in the 70’s. He also threw a career high 17 INTs as well a career low in completion % (50.52). Ruben Randle is the only real WR threat to a defense. He led the team in Receptions (63), and posted another 1k yard season.
In a season where he seen his least amount of action, halfback Trent Richardson posted a career high in YPC, posting 5.33 YPC. It’s hard to believe a guy with this kind of talent ended the season with only 3 rushing touchdowns. Trent wasn’t used nearly as much as much as he should have been, but that’s an error that can be fixed moving forward.
The defense was a huge disappointment last season. They finished the season ranked 20th against the pass and ranked 29th against the run. They tied for being ranked dead last in takeaways last year with a total of 15 (12 Ints and 3 FR). The opponent scored on every red zone attempt except 2. That is just pathetic. Opponents had their way passing the ball against us, posting an average of 88.11 QBR, making the worst quarterbacks look elite.
The problem with last season wasn’t just the offense or the defensive but a mixture of both including depth. Being unbalanced on offense led to a low time of possession, and not many scoring opportunities. The defense wasn’t suited to be on the field that much, having only 4 CBs. I think that lead to some poor pass defense which is clearly noticeable just by looking over the team stats from last season.
With the addition of new players and staff, look forward to the adjustments coming in 2020. There are a bunch of high paid players on the team that need to go and this training camp features plenty of positon battles to keep an eye on.
Offseason Recap: (1009 words)
Midway through the offseason, the Houston Texans elected it was time to see a new face in charge. I didn’t have a chance to do pre-draft match-eligible free agency. Regardless, most of the players were probably going out the door anyway. Here’s a look the players we lost this off season
LT Sam Baker (Now a brown) – At the age of 35 and jumping into regression, there was no need to keep him around. He’s still a good player, but we had a combination of 4 1st and 2nd round picks. It was a good time to get young and save some money in the process.
LE Cornelius Washington (Also a brown) – This is a guy we will miss, but pre-draft free agent matches were already being bid on, so couldn’t do much to keep him here without him hitting UFA.
SS Mariano Mcgehee – He’s a good player, but age is beginning to catch up to him as well.
RE Marcus Cleveland - This guy shouldn’t be seeing the field unless the special teams unit is out there. He probably won’t be getting a phone call to play for another team anytime soon.
QB Mark Steele - Looks like he was just signed because of injury because this is not some guy you want to see out on the field. Good riddance.
QB Terence Bennett (Via Cut) – He’s a good quarterback. His morale was getting low because he’s good enough to be a starter, and he was getting paid to be a starter. I wanted to get rid of him and look for a young and cheap QB to play behind starter Kendall Irving.
DT Devon Still – I elected to trade him to the Titans for him + 5th for a 3rd. He’s a solid a good player who was on the last year of his contract, and after doing some digging I noticed a 4th DT didn’t get much use. I didn’t notice this until I received a message asking if he was still available, and that was after the draft. Since he was on his last year and I just drafted Cyrus Youssefi, he was expendable.
1.11 LE Joey Bosa - 6’6” 278lbs (Ohio State) – I was really happy to see Joey slide all the way to 11. I was watching some of the college game the night before, and he really played well. I know you can’t completely judge it from that, but he showed promise. He will be a stud, and I’m excited to see him wreak havoc on the field. There are only 10 players with an 80SPD/80STR/75AGI/80ACC combo in the league.
1.24 LT Abraham Pearl – 6’6” 340lbs (Kentucky) – He’s one of 16 players to possess a 60SPD/94STR/60AGI/75ACC and he weighs more than any of them going into his rookie year. He’s a great player to come in and fill the need that opened with the departure of Sam Baker. I really wanted LT Jack Conklin at 1.11, but I was more than happy to see Abraham still sitting there at 1.24.
2.11 SS Jalen Ramsey – 6’1” 204 lbs. (Florida State) – I like my defensive backs to be over 6FT/90SPD/90ACC. Ramsey has that and will sit behind Earnest McBride in his final year under contract. He will be molded into the starter over the next season or 2.
2.24 DT Cyrus Youssefi - 6’3” 318lbs (TCU) – He’s what you see in a typical DT. A little weaker than I would like, but I think having high awareness for a rookie will elevate his game. He was the 6th DT picked in the draft. He had a solid performance in the College game leading up to the draft. Overall, I was pretty happy with picking him up. I was running out of options that I thought were worthy of 2nd round talent, and my next pick wasn’t until the 5th round.
5.11 CB Marlon Barrett 6’0” 176lbs (Oregon State) – I like many of the cornerbacks currently on roster, but I don’t like the idea of only having 4. I simply picked Barret because he was over that 6ft mark and wanted to get some depth. I was hoping he would get a good skew, but that was a disaster. He got -2SPD/2STR/-1ACC/1CTH/-2TAK. Dropping under 90SPD and 90ACC was tough, and could hurt his chances going forward.
Overall, I thought it was a pretty good draft. I missed out on some of the players I really wanted, but I was still pretty pleased with the players I ended up with. I think I got good value out of the spots I had, and didn’t reach for anyone.
Free Agent Acquisitions:
QB Charles Romberg – The fourth year pro isn’t exactly a jaw dropping acquisition, but he serves his purpose. Many of the young Quarterbacks I was looking at were scramblers, and I wasn’t interested in picking on of them up. Many of the younger QBs all had pretty bad AWR, so I went with Romberg because of his 89 THA. I know 88 THP is weak, but he doesn’t need an arm to play back up. If Irving goes down for an extended period of game, I would probably look to pick up a better QB.
RE Marco Baker – Picked up to back up Christian Ballard. He runs close to the 80SPD/80STR/80ACC I like to see in my defensive ends. I think he will be fine, but he’s only on a 4 year cheap bonus deal should he struggle in his role.
TE Asanti Bragg – Former Jets player who didn’t see much playing time. He’s going to be 3rd in depth. He was picked up for his blocking skills. I plan on getting back to a more balanced attack next year, so I think having an extra TE will pay off.
WR Mike Williams – Renting Williams for a year to give Irving another good target to throw to. He’s a veteran who just had a 1000 yard season. This should help the passing game. Having Ruben on one side and Williams on the other.
Training Camp: USE GZQ
LE Joey Bosa - +1 SPD (1st boost), +1 ACC (1st Boost)
CB Micah Price - +1 SPD(3rd boost), +1 ACC (2nd boost)
LT Abraham Pearl - +1 SPD (1st boost)
Season Prediction: USE GZQ
(by S_Goodman on 01/06/2016)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 24
Texans Hire new GM
|The Houston Texans have hired Steven Goodman as their new general manager. The news of a rookie general manager comes as a bit of a surprise, but one that Houston has recently became accustomed to. He's the fourth new general manager since the departure of the highly respected Paul Willis. The organization has been in a mediocre downward spiral ever since, and look to Steven Goodman to bring them back to its winning ways.
When Steven received the first phone call, he was asked to catch a flight the following day to Houston to have an interview with Owner McNair and head coach Haslett about the job. Both Mcnair and Haslett were intrigued with Steven, and he came back for a second interview a few days later. The Indiana native was then asked to accept the job, and immediately got to work. In the midst of the offseason, he was quick to resign feature back Trent Richardson and give quarterback Kendall Irving a contract extension. On the following Monday, Steven was asked to give a press conference to announce the hiring and his plans going forward.
"I would like to thank this organization for giving me an opportunity to prove myself in this league. This is a dream come true, and I couldn't be happier to be here. It feels great. I know the people here are hungry to get back to the post season, and we'll get there. My goal is to get this team back to where it was. Building a strong foundation is the most important thing. Mcnair, Haslett and I are all on the same page, and we fell good about the process of reanalyzing our roster to set that foundation. This is a young organization, and I have confidence we can set a standard going forward."
(by S_Goodman on 12/19/2015)
Replies - 2 :: Views - 49
2018 Texans TC
2017 Houston Texans: Stuck On Repeat
The 2017 season is in the books, but if you are a Houston fan who wasn't paying close attention then you might still be waiting on it to kickoff. The 2016 Texans started 5-1 then fell in to a tailspin. They were able to correct the ship long enough to get to 9-6 and set up a win and in week 17. That team failed to take advantage and fell just short of the playoffs. Last season, 2017's Texans started the season 5-2 then hit their now routine midseason lull and fell to 7-6. Again, the Texans recovered and again had a win and in situation at 9-6. This time Houston was unable to overcome a putrid performance by Kendall Irving and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champions in what turned out to be a pre-Wild Card game. The 9-7 finish is the third such in GM Paul Willis' tenure and despite a 59% career win percentage and just one losing season, some are calling for a change from the top-down.
Another unhoped for similarity between the 2016 and 2017 squads was the play of quarterback Kendall Irving. The once Offensive Rookie of the Year continued his struggles, managing a 4-6 record in 10 starts. "Dr. K" was consistently inconsistent throughout the season. Some weeks showed glimpses back to his electrifying rookie campaign but much more often his games were marred by inaccuracy, interceptions, sacks or some combination of the three. Irving saved his worst for last in the previously mentioned week 17 failure. After the Houston defense gave the offense several short fields and the team managed a 13-0 lead, the former first overall pick fell apart. An 8-23, 98 yard, 2 interception performance was good for a 12.6 QBR. The defense clung to the lead as long as they could but almost predictably ran out of steam in the final minutes as Ben Roethlisberger connected with DeAndre Brown for the game winner inside the 2 minute warning.
An injury to Irving early in the season led to what may be the great regret of the 2017 campaign. Once upon a time the Texans were among the league's most consistent and explosive offenses. In those days Matt Schaub was the quarterback who led the way. Unfortunately for Houston, Schaub was oft-injured and the backup was a burly 6'1", 234 pounder from the Ivy League named Terence Bennett. Bennett, nicknamed "Teri" by disgruntled fans, was not meant to be rushed on to the field early in his career. Injuries to Schaub forced that, and Houston's only 2 playoff appearances during that era were played and lost with Bennett and not the 2012 MVP. 2017 was a revelation for the much maligned backup. The man once called Teri went 5-1 in his starts, completed better than 60% of his passes and threw for a respectable 14/6 touchdown to interception ratio. The hot seat Dennis Green and Paul Willis now sit on is so warm due in large part to the decision to switch back to Kendall Irving after his return from injury and subsequent struggles. Rumors abound from the locker room that the team would much rather follow Bennett in to battle and some veterans lobbied Denny Green to have him put the Harvard grad on the field for the crucial week 17 matchup with Pittsburgh.
Despite another year of inconsistency under center, Trent Richardson and the running game were a well-oiled machine as always. Christine Michael was traded for a 1st round pick to Tampa Bay before the season. In his place the Texans signed veteran Peyton Hillis to spell "T-Rich". The move turned out to be a wise one, as Hillis provided a fantastic change of pace. Most defenses wore down after being worn down by Houston's "thunder and more thunder" throughout the course of a game. If the men behind center had been able to pick up 3rd down conversions at a better clip this running game would likely have led the league. As it was, they finished third. Wide receivers Reuben Randle and Darvin Adams both topped 1,000 yards. It was just the 3rd time in team history that the Texans have had 2 receivers hit 1000 in a season and the second time Randle and Adams have done so.
Houston's defense was sturdy but not spectacular. Despite ranking 16th in the league in sacks and 24th in takeaways, the Texans had the top pass defense in the GZL in 2017. Opposing passers averaged a paltry 67.64 QB rating when facing Houston's defense but the team only managed 15 interceptions on the year. The team was also the top ranked red zone defense in the league last season with just a 33% touchdown allowed percentage.
Cornerback Nigel Malone had a breakout season. The former second round pick has finally grown in to his game and has become the DeAngelo Hall type that Paul Willis hoped for. With 32 passes defensed and 3 interceptions to just 31 catches allowed, Malone finished the season ranked third on the KVW Most Productive Cornerbacks list. Long time Texan DeAngelo Smith had a typically solid season across from him, although his interception number was disappointing at just 2. Third year man Dre Hall made the most of limited opportunities during an injury riddled campaign, deflecting 3 passes, intercepting 2 and giving up just 5 catches primarily from the nickel.
The front seven made the transition in to the post-Brian Cushing era in 2017. Oliver Nixon took over in the middle of the defense and had a solid season, but a difference was noticeable. The Texans had grown used to getting 120+ tackles and 20 or so tackles behind the line from their defensive captain. Nixon was solid, but despite being one of the most gifted athletes in the league at his position he was not able to match the production Cushing routinely gave the team for years prior. LOLB Buddy James was a pleasant surprise for Houston. The stocky 6'1, 265 pounder was drafted late in the 5th round but managed to beat out second round pick Junior O'Neal for a starting spot. Possessing blazing speed for a man of his stature(or any linebacker), James lived in the backfield in 2017. His 66 tackles and 15 tackles for loss are the most of any Texans outside linebacker in team history and he will only get better.
On the defensive line only Kawaan Short truly excelled. Short is a consistent presence up the middle for the pass rush but Cornelius Washington took a large step back after a 13 sack 2016 with only 8. Christian Ballard was the big free agent signing for Houston last season but he had only pedestrian numbers, though the right end in the Texan's system is not often asked to rush the passer. Ballard did well in run support, which was the main reason for his acquisition.
Restricted Free Agency: Cazmanian Devil
The RFA period was big business for Houston. 4 players were tendered from the squad and none were bid on. This allowed the Texans to retain the services of RG Sergio Abbott and CB Dre Hall for the next several years. With 3 1st round picks in their pocket, including 1.29 from Tampa, the front office was aggressive in going after New England WR Caz Dudley. A 6 year, $38.5 million deal and 1.29 was enough to coax the Patriots in to declining to match the offer and Houston is the proud new owner of a 6'4" 226 pounder with solid speed and incredible strength. 2017 was a breakout season for Dudley, who hauled in 10 touchdowns on 90 catches for 1265 yards receiving. Houston had made a deal during the season in order to acquire Kenny Britt from Carolina. Dudley gives the Texans what they hope is essentially a younger version of Britt and should be a perfect compliment opposite the speedy Reuben Randle.
Free Agency: Out With The Old
Everyone knew big changes were coming for the Texans this offseason. Long time Texans Brad Jones, Duane Brown and DeAngelo Smith had expiring contracts and were not getting any younger. All 3 men were allowed to test the free agent market. Most notable of the 3 is RT Brown, who is still among the quickest linemen in the league but had seen a dramatic decline in production over the past few years.
A tough decision was made to re-sign C Khaled Holmes instead of DT Kawaan Short, who was declared match eligible. Along with Short, WR/KR Wilson Hanks and P Mike Scifres were declared for the match eligible phase. Short and Hanks both received strong offers that the Texans declined to match. Kawaan Short moved on to Cincinnati and Hanks became a Chief. With the decision already made to allow the afformentioned to leave, Houston put in a 3 year bid on long time Cowboy HB Joe Lima. Dallas declined to match the offer and Houston now has the replacement for the aging Peyton Hillis that the team was eager to find. The running game has always been the backbone of the Houston offense, and the 250 pound Lima reminds the team of a young version of the departed Hillis.
With the match eligible phase over, Houston addressed the empty RT position by signing former Falcon Sam Baker to a one year deal. With a loaded offensive line class and 2 1st round picks, Houston was confident they could find a franchise RT in the draft but didn't want to hamstring themselves in to a need pick. Baker gives the team a legitimate starter or fantastic depth. Not the athlete that Duane Brown is, but Baker has better technique and is slightly more powerful. CB Riley Mitchell was brought in as depth after the Texans failed to lure Sanders Commings away from Baltimore during the match eligible free agency period.
Pre-Draft Trades: Predictably Quiet
GM Paul Willis is known for making relatively few trades and this season was no different. Many deals were negotiated and all but one fell through prior to draft day. After signing Caz Dudley in restricted free agency, the Texans put WR Darvin Adams on the trade block. Adams, a former 2nd round pick, is entering his 7th season and coming off of his second 1000 yard season but was never quite the type of counterpart for Reuben Randle that the front office coveted. Willis made it known that the team would accept the best 3rd round pick but preferred a comparable player at linebacker or defensive tackle. After receiving several offers of picks, the Seahawks swooped in with an offer the Texans couldn't refuse. DT Akeem Spence was drafted at the end of the 2015 second round by Seattle and has been a solid presence in the Seahawk defense for the past 3 seasons. While not an all-world talent, Spence has excellent strength and above average speed and should be able to fill the hole left with the departure of Kawaan Short effectively.
Houston also came very close to agreeing to terms with Tampa Bay on a deal that would've brought in CB Morris Claiborne. A deal seemed imminent but reports point to Willis pushing for more than the Bucs were willing to give and Claiborne became a Bear shortly thereafter.
The Draft: Got Their Man
The Texans entered the offseason with 4 premier picks: 1.12, 1.18, 1.29 and 2.18. After building their draft board and determining their primary targets, the front office decided it didn't like the prospects of picking past the #20 range. 1.29 was shipped to New England for Caz Dudley and Willis began shopping either of the team's remaining firsts along with 2.18 to move up in the opening round. Eventually the team made a handshake deal after Oakland acquired 1.6 from Indianapolis. The deal was dependent on Oakland's target being off the board, although recent reports out of Oakland indicate that the Raiders rolled the dice and made the deal to move down to 1.12 from 1.6 in return for 2.18. The deal allowed Houston to select the player it coveted all along, and the Raiders got their man later on as well.
1.6 CB Micah Price -- Houston's front office has dreamed of having a towering, athletic corner on the roster for the past few seasons. The dreams began after Willis noticed the success enjoyed by players like Claudio Ambellina, Sean Smith, Eric Victorino and Steven Yates. The Illinois alum along with fellow draftee Jacob Reed's addition to GZL means there are now 11 corners at least 6'3" and of those, Price will be the fastest not named Richard Sherman when he's fully developed. He's not without his warts though, as his hands were a major concern for some scouts. Throughout his time at Illinois Price both delighted and frustrated with fantastic deflections and dumbfounding drops. Despite his questionable hands, Price will be expected to start from day one opposite Nigel Malone. The Texans are hoping Price's size will be an equalizer in a division that A.J. Green, Justin Hunter, Michael Floyd and Chaz Schillens.
1.18 DE/OLB Randy Gregory -- After moving up to grab their corner, the Texans had 12 long picks to wait until they went on the board again. The Texans were banking on one of the top offensive linemen or linebackers to slide to them. The top 2 linebackers went immediately following 1.6 and the linemen vanished shortly after. OLB Anthony Barr was the top remaining man on the board as of 1.12 and it appeared that Houston would get him until the Jets burst that bubble just a pick ahead. Randy Gregory was the backup plan. The pick was looked upon fondly by most, but the Texans plan to move him to ROLB where he'll be a bit of a project. Gregory will need to develop his technique as a tackler and learn how to cover but he has incredible measurables and will be a homerun if he can grasp his new position.
6.18 RG Santiago Vargas -- Vargas ran a better 40 than any lineman at the combine, but his 3 cone drill was among the worst. He could be an effective player on kickoffs.
7.14 HB Estoban Nunez -- Nunez has good size at 220 pounds but isn't the caliber of back the Texans would normally keep on a regular season roster.
7.18 P Andrew Breckenridge -- Breckenridge has a strong leg and could provide the Texans with a long-term punter if he sits behind Mike Scifres for a season or three.
Post Draft UFA: A Starter And Some Depth
The elephant in the room throughout the offseason was the contract situation of DT/NT Dan Williams. The veteran run stuffer was due to make almost $9 million for Houston this season and most expected him to be cut after the team offered him up for ANY draft pick. No offers came in and the inevitable happened shortly after the draft. Williams was cut, in large part to make room for DT Devon Still. Still is an interesting case as he was selected with 2.18 by Minnesota in 2013, had a quiet rookie season and then didn't log so much as a tackle in a Viking uniform for the next 3 seasons before heading to Buffalo as a free agent last season. Still was given a chance to start as a Bill and produced with a solid 6 sack season. Still became expendable after the Bills gained the services of the massive Terrence Cody and Houston signed him to a 3 year deal off of the waiver wire immediately. The move gives Houston a brand new interior d-line for 2018, with Still expected to fill the pass rushing void of Kawaan Short and Akeem Spence set to fill in for Williams as the run stuffer.
With Darvin Adams and Wilson Hanks gone, the Texans wanted to find a dependable #3 receiver who could provide a potential starter in case of injury. Michael Crabtree was given a 1 year deal to fill the role. At one time Crabtree was looked at as an elite prospect but his career has landed him more in the role of possession receiver. That's fine for Houston, who will ask little more of Crabtree than to catch the balls that are thrown to him and use his powerful 6'1" frame to maintain blocks for the bruising running game.
The final piece of the puzzle that bears mentioning is one HB John Clay. Clay was the initial target for the #2 spot until the team found itself with the extra cap to go after Joe Lima so they were happy to scoop him up as almost an afterthought this late in the process. The addition gives Houston 2 250 pounders backing up the 242 pound Trent Richardson and will allow the team even more opportunity to wear down opposing defenses.
Training Camp: Observations
Both new starting DT's have been working with the training staff to add bulk to their frames. The Texans grew used to having 320+ pounders man the middle and will be working with the smallest duo of tackles in the Willis era, but both men are obliging his request to get bigger without falling out of football shape.
The Texans linebacking corps is as athletic as it has ever been. Randy Gregory, Oliver Nixon and Buddy James are all arguably among the fastest at their positions in the league and appear to push each other to improve. When asked by a camp reporter who was the fastest, all three men stated "I am" simultaneously. This is a good problem for Houston to have.
When he's not glued to Nigel Malone's hip, top pick Micah Price is a gym rat. The 6th overall pick in the draft remarked that he "should've gone number one. I'll make them all regret that. I'm gonna make you forget about Waynes. I'm gonna make you forget about Sherman. You're looking at it." If "it" is a man who is dedicated to his craft he is not lying. Price has consistently been the first in and last out throughout camp.
Training Camp Battles: Not Much To Argue About
Wide Receiver(#3-5) -- Michael Crabtree vs. Jacoby Ford vs. Andre Burt
Crabtree should have this spot locked down barring something unbelievable. Jacoby Ford is a dependable and solid punt returner but his lack of height and polish usually keep him off of the field when the offense comes on. Ford likely has a lock on the #4 spot behind Crabtree. Andre Burt was brought in to eventually take over for Wilson Hanks as the team's primary kick returner and a potential developmental player at wideout. He has good measurables for his size which help in the return game but is raw as a route runner and doesn't have dependable hands.
Quarterback -- Kendall Irving vs. Terence Bennett
The coaching staff has publicly squashed any notion that there is a competition for the starting quarterback spot. The organization is all in with Kendall Irving as they proved last season by sticking with him even when he was clearly outperformed by his counterpart. So far in camp the two look much more evenly matched than they did when the games counted, and the staff seems confident that Irving's slump is over now that he's entering year 4 of his career. The good news for Houston is that they now know they have a man on the bench they can depend on in case the pieces don't fall in to place for Irving like everyone is counting on.
2018 Houston Texans: Must Overcome Mediocrity
The goal is simple for the Texans: win more than 9 games and make the playoffs. Wrenching control of the AFC South from Tennessee's grip would be even better but will not be an easy task. Not only have the Titans improved on an already stellar roster but the Jaguars have gotten even better after a 9-7 year themselves. On top of that, Jason Arnold has the Colts ready to stop playing doormat to the rest of the division. There will be no easy wins for the Texans on the docket in 2018.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the key to the season is the play of Kendall Irving. When the team got solid QB play(from Terence Bennett) last season they were successful. The acquisition of big Caz Dudley and dependable Michael Crabtree should give Irving targets more suited to his skill set. Slumping Duane Brown is gone and will be replaced on the right side by Menelik Watson, who cut his teeth as the left tackle the last few seasons. Watson is no comparison athletically to Brown but he is a much more polished blocker even at his young age. With Same Baker sliding in to the left tackle slot, the team should be more dependable across the front. The running game is strong and should be even better with 250 pounders Joe Lima and John Clay added to the fore. Depth at HB is crucial to Houston, who run so much that the 3rd HB often gets a good chunk of carries.
The defense promises to be one of, if not the most physical squad Houston has ever produced. Micah Price joins a secondary that was already #1 against the pass a year ago and should get more help from a pass rush that underachieved a year ago. The addition of Randy Gregory to the linebacking corps allows the team to be more aggressive than ever before with its pressure schemes. Losing Kawaan Short and Dan Williams certainly hurts, but Akeem Spence and Devon Still should be able to replace most of that production.
As mentioned before, the schedule will not be easy. This season the AFC South draws the AFC East and NFC South. No game will be a gimme but if Kendall Irving can return to rookie form, there's no reason this team can't win 12 games. The Titans have had the upper hand in the rivalry the past few seasons but this year should at least yield a draw. With the Jaguars looking to be back to top form and the Jags on the rise, I think 11 wins will get the division this year. I still think the division comes down to Houston and Tennessee and this year the good guys win it on tiebreakers.
(by P_Willis on 01/09/2015)
Replies - 1 :: Views - 17
2017 Texans TC
2016 Houston Texans: Wha Happen?
The season was supposed to be a coming out party for a talented young squad who was ready to take over the AFC. Everything was going exactly as we had envisioned for the first 6 games. Houston was 5-1 with the only loss being a strange flukey one point defeat against Jacksonville that left many wondering if Denny Green forgot how time functioned. The win that brought the team to 5-1 was a 55-19 drubbing of a Broncos team that would go on to finish 11-5 and earn a wild card spot. The Texans' huge victory over Denver was the high point of what turned out to be an underwhelming season. 5-1 turned to 6-6 as Houston dropped close games they should've won and got blown out by the eventual Super Bowl champions in a demoralizing 41-13 contest in Seattle.
2015 Rookie of the Year Kendall Irving experienced the proverbial Sophomore Slump in a bad way. Virtually every statistic that could take a nosedive did: 26 TD down to 20, 11 INT up to 16, 53.85% down to 51.99%, 8.75 YPA down to 6.45 and a QB rating that went from 95.1 to 72.3. Unfortunately the numbers don't tell the entire story. The true tale of Irving's season was even worse, since those numbers don't detail the failure to step up in the clutch and change losses in to wins. All-Pro wideout Reuben Randle also dropped off the map, losing nearly 500 yards of production and 5 touchdowns versus his previous season. In all, the team that finished 2015 as the top ranked scoring AND total offense dropped down to 20th thanks almost solely to a pass offense that ranked 31st in the league.
Irving's inability to do so little as appropriately manage games was made all the harder to believe by the breakthrough season Trent Richardson enjoyed. Richardson, acquired by Houston in a blockbuster offseason trade that saw the Texans send 1.27, 2.5 and 2.27 to San Francisco for the gifted back. The team would be rewarded for their faith in Richardson to turn around a disappointing career, as the former 49er posted a career high 5.14 yards per carry on his way to a league leading 1870 yards. Richardson failed to reach 100 yards in just 4 games and in two of those he carried the ball 11 and 13 times respectively. Along with 2015 2nd round pick Christine Michael, the Texans led the league in rushing at nearly 156 yards per game.
A defense that finished two straight seasons allowing over 28 points a game finally came together as a cohesive unit. The biggest spark was provided via the huge second year leap made by 2015's 11th overall pick. Left end Cornelius Washington was selected early by the Texans because they expected the raw young talent to fill the void of athletic freak at end they'd been missing since Mario Williams' departure. Those shoes proved far too large to fill for Washington as a rookie as he managed only a pedestrian 26 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 9 sacks in his first year. Washington heard the "bust" whispers and dedicated himself to his craft. 2016 saw the former Georgia Bulldog explode on to the scene as he more than doubled his tackle total(55) and proved to be a force against the run and the pass with 13 tackles for loss to go with 13 sacks. Along with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawaan Short, veteran nose tackle Dan Williams and breakout journeyman Clinton McDonald; the Texans had one of the most rock solid front lines in the GZL.
The back end of the front 7 saw a big boost in athleticism with the addition of first round pick Oliver Nixon and the trade for former Bengal Keith Rivers. While neither put up eye popping numbers, the boost in quickness was noticeable on the field. The captain, Brian Cushing, was predictably fantastic as always. The secondary finally came together as well, as cornerbacks DeAngelo Smith and Nigel Malone both had strong seasons. While safeties Earnest Mcbride and Phillip Ross weren't spectacular, their solid performance was visible on film.
Houston responded from its 1-5 slide by winning three straight to get themselves to 9-6 heading in to week 17. All the team needed was a win against a San Diego team that was already eliminated from playoff contention in order to claim their second straight AFC South title. The Chargers won 33-21 in a game that seemed like a microcosm of the season itself. Ronny Lewis returned not one but two kickoffs for touchdowns and OLB Casey Carter snagged a Kendall Irving pass and brought it back 93 yards for another. The loss, coupled with wins by both Tennessee and Kansas City, meant that Houston not only didn't win the South but was also the first team out of the playoffs. Another promising season was down the tubes, and GM Paul Willis went in to hiding until the offseason.
Restricted Free Agency: Cheap Depth
Restricted free agency was not as hot a topic in Houston as it has been in years past when the likes of tight end Charlie Gantt have made their way to town. The Texans targeted none and only opted to bring back serviceable depth players in free safety Troy Royle and halfback Stepfan Taylor. Both players were offered the minimum tender and neither were offered extensions after clearing the period without receiving offers from other teams. Moving on..
Free Agency: Worked Out Nicely
Despite his down year, getting WR Reuben Randle re-signed to a long-term deal was a priority for the Texans. The 6'2" burner will be expected to repeat on his 1591 yard, 12 touchdown 2015 season after signing a 5 year extension worth over $22 million. After securing Randle, Houston would only dip its toes in the match-eligible free agent pool. The only offer the Texans put out was to Chicago punter Mike Scifres. The Bears opted not to match on the 1 year, $3.55 million deal.
Throughout the early offseason the Texans kept an eye on right end Christian Ballard in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers had franchised the former first round pick and while they were asking little in terms of compensation, GM Paul Willis knew how players who had received the tag expected to be compensated. Unsatisfied with the prospect of taking on Ballard as an expensive one year loan and unwilling to negotiate the inevitable demands that would have come along with restructuring the deal, Willis watched and waited. Eventually Arizona sent a 4th round pick in return for Ballard, but quickly begain shopping him themselves. After attempts to unload Ballard and his unrealistic contract demands failed in Arizona the Cardinals cut the fifth year man and let him hit the open market. It was at this time that Houston pounced, offering up a 4 year deal worth over $25 million with $10 million guaranteed. Ballard will immediately take over the starting right end spot from Clinton McDonald, who had a career renaissance in 2016. McDonald, who was acquired from Indianapolis for a 4th round pick last offseason, will provide excellent depth or could be released without penalty if Houston finds themselves in a monetary jam during the season.
Also signed during the pre-draft free agency period were former Cleveland WR Andre Burt and former New Orleans TE Keith Zinger. Burt, entering just his second season, is a 6'3" project who will provide the Texans with a very solid backup plan to Wilson Hanks in the return game. Hanks was shopped some in the offseason and this move could usher his exit if interest still exists in the all-time yards per return leader in to the season. Zinger will be given the opportunity to compete for the #2 tight end spot thanks in large part to his blocking skills. Zach Miller was a good pass catcher but a player of Zinger's ilk matches the Houston run first philosophy much more closely.
Pre-Draft Trades: Ammo For Next Year
As usual, the Texans didn't make many moves during the offseason. Also per normal, the few moves they did make were substantial. The first deal struck sent HB Christine Michael and Houston's 2017 4th and 5th rounders to Tampa Bay in return for the Bucs' 2017 1st rounder, 4.19 and 5.8. Willis loved Michael when he drafted him at 2.18 in 2015 but the Texas A&M alum was stuck behind Arian Foster and then Trent Richardson during his two seasons in Houston. Tampa should take full advantage of Michael after investing their future first in him and Willis expects big things from his former back.
A few weeks later perhaps the most shocking move in Houston since Mario Williams was traded occurred. Brian Cushing, middle linebacker and captain of the defense for the better part of a decade, was sent to Green Bay along with 2.20 and 7.20 for 1.25 and 3.4. Cushing leaves Houston as the 3rd leading tackler in GZL history and is tied for second all-time in tackles for loss. Also a fantastic pass defender despite his questionable hands, he's pulled down 11 career picks but 8 in the last 3 seasons. Houston traded their first round pick this year for 1.22 last season when OLB Oliver Nixon slid in the draft. The 6'4", 261 pounder was brought in with the specific intention of eventually replacing Cushing and the time will now come sooner than later. The coaching staff believes Nixon will be ready and as always, the best experience comes on the job.
The Draft: Gather Depth and Prep For Next Year
After acquiring 1.25 in the Brian Cushing trade, the Texans found themselves in a strange position. After only coming up with a list of about 13 players with a "true" first round grade, the Texans made it clear that they would most likely look to trade out of the first round for future considerations. When DE/OLB Trent Murphy went off the board to Tampa at 1.23, Houston's decision was made and they broadcast throughout league channels that 1.25 could be moved. After a quick series of negotiations, the Texans agreed to send 1.25 and their 2017 3rd round pick to Detroit for the Lions' 2017 1st rounder and 2.25.
2.25 LOLB Junior O'Neal -- After missing out on Trent Murphy to Tampa at the end of the first, the Buccaneers again snagged Houston's target in the second round when they claimed D'quarius Kemp at 2.20. The Texans' consolation prize is West Virginia linebacker Junior O'Neal. The 6'2", 241 pound O'Neal is a solid if not spectacular athlete who has no particular flaws but doesn't stand out in any one area. Very similar to current ROLB Brad Jones, O'Neal will enter training camp as the favorite to start at LOLB.
3.4 LE Trent Thomas -- Thomas was high on Houston's board prior to the Christian Ballard signing. After Ballard solidified the RE position, Thomas dropped down the board in large part due to a questionable burst off the line. Coaches will have to decide whether to store him as a backup at RE or deep depth at DT.
3.21 DT Pat Ventura -- Ventura was drafted because he reminds the front office of current DT/NT Dan Williams. Not a great athlete but certainly a powerful hoss at 334 pounds. Will provide depth for now and could start one day if he works to improve.
4.19 QB Cameron Green -- Green is short and has a noodle arm(82 THP). If that sentence wasn't true, he'd be a first round pick. The former Trojan is just as polished and accurate as 7th overall pick Bo Callahan. The Texans have Teri Bennett entrenched at the #2 spot but Green is a solid #3 who could develop in to something more one day.
4.20 LT Phillip Ugla -- If he was a better athlete he could be an eventual starter at OT, unfortunately Ugla doesn't meet all the criteria that Houston looks for and will strictly provide depth.
5.8 LG Carl Junior -- See above. Junior is solid fundamentally for a rookie but doesn't have the athleticism to get out in front of Trent Richardson consistently on counters and sweeps.
5.21 LOLB Buddy James -- The Texans found an intriguing prospect in James. The Georgia Tech product has incredible straight line speed(86 SPD) but questionable change of direction and burst(79 AGI and 77 ACC). James has a chance to win a starting OLB job if he can prove himself in the preseason.
5.28 C Miles McDonald -- Depth and nothing more.
6.6 LT Bray Dallas -- When Paul Willis found out that Bray Dallas was not one of Mike Rotundo's sons he fired his entire scouting staff.
6.20 DT Dudley Bryant -- The numbers game may force Bryant out the door but he was the BPA at the time.
Post Draft UFA: TBD
This phase of the offseason hasn't happened yet, but it's doubtful Houston will do much more than grab some affordable depth players. The roster is already at 52 strong.
Training Camp: Observations
Cornerback Dre Hall heard the rumors that the Texans moved up to 1.25 with their eye on a corner. He also seems to have caught wind that Cyrus Nicholson III was a target at 2.25. Hall has worked hard in the offseason and appears a step quicker off the line and his covering speed appears improved as well.
LB Oliver Nixon will be making the transition from outside to inside that Brian Cushing made many years back as he takes over for the departed stalwart. He hasn't rested on his laurels in the offseason either, the 6'4", 261 pound freak athlete looks even quicker in coverage and bursting through the line. Nixon is still only 23 and has yet to hit his prime.
Rookie 5th round pick Buddy James is taking his opportunity to beat out 2nd rounder Junior O'Neal for the starting left outside linebacker position very seriously. Coaches say James practices with a chip on his shoulder and is a gym rat of the highest order. The knock on James coming out of college was that he was slow off the snap, but it appears to have been slightly exaggerated. Also seems to be moving even faster in space than his already impressive 40 time would suggest.
Left end Cornelius Washington didn't quit working to improve even after his huge 13 TFL/13 sack season a year ago. He's been lightning quick off the line so far, getting a jump even more impressively than a year ago. Lining up opposite tackle Duane Brown every day only highlights the development. Brown is hands down one of the quickest lineman in the league(86 ACC) and Washington routinely beats him around the edge right off the snap. It has been a great matchup to watch so far in camp.
Training Camp Battles: QB Battle Highlights Camp
Outside Linebacker -- Brad Jones vs. Junior O'Neal vs. Buddy James
Jones appears to be locked in to the ROLB spot. The former Packer started at the position for 5 seasons for Houston and even earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 before losing his position last season when Keith Rivers was brought in. Rivers' contract demands were more exorbitant than the Texans were willing to pay and he was allowed to walk in large part due to Jones' presence. The battle for LOLB is the truly intriguing one. Both O'Neal and James are surprisingly sound for rookies and both are solid athletes. James has the higher ceiling but does have a tendency to either make a big play or be burned. So far the race still appears neck and neck and a decision likely won't be made until after the final week of the preseason.
Wide Receiver(#1) -- Darvin Adams vs. Wilson Hanks vs. Jacoby Ford vs. Andre Burt
Darvin Adams will likely retain his role as the starting wideout opposite Reuben Randle but the staff is reportedly not happy with him following a 44 catch/8 drop last season. Things got so bad last year that Andre Johnson was signed off of his couch and took over the position from Adams. Houston's apprehension regarding Adams after last season doesn't make return specialists like Hanks, Ford and Burt any better options at the #1 slot however. Hanks is the best athlete in the group and has good size at 6'1" 220, but was raw coming out of college and hasn't developed much at receiver. The 5'9" Ford doesn't run great routes but has decent hands and the kind of speed that can stretch the field. Andre Burt was released by Cleveland after one season. He's a big target at 6'3" but is even more of a project than Hanks was coming out and has little chance of rising in to the top 3 at the position. The most likely result of this competition will be a repetition of the status quo with Adams at WR1, Randle at WR2 and Hanks or Ford at WR3 depending on the matchup.
2017 Houston Texans: Irving's Team Now
The 2017 version of the Houston Texans shouldn't be much different than the team that limped to a disappointing 9-7 finish in 2016. Despite losing Christine Michael, Trent Richardson and the running game will still be ferocious. Despite losing Brian Cushing, Cornelius Washington and the defense will still swarm to ball carriers and create turnovers. Despite losing Brian Moorman, the special teams will still be top of the line thanks to the kicking of Reid Forrest and the returning of Wilson Hanks and Jacoby Ford. No, none of that should change much one way or the other.
The determining factor between success and failure will be the performance of 2015's first overall pick. Kendall Irving must return to the level he performed at as a rookie in order for this team to become a legitimate contender in the AFC again. The excuses are over now. There is no more sophomore slump, no more rookie wall. He has one of the deadliest deep threats in the league in Reuben Randle to throw the ball to, and a Pro Bowl tight end in Charlie Gantt who can be counted on. "Dr. K" will be expected to put up Matt Schaub type numbers from now on. It won't be an easy task, Schaub threw for 78 touchdowns to just 24 interceptions in his time as a GZL Texan, Irving has thrown 46 to 27 in his first two seasons. The talent is there but the proof will be in the pudding.
Even if Kendall Irving reaches his potential, the road will not be an easy one for Houston. The AFC South promises to be more competitive than ever. The odds say that Christopher Henderson should finally stay healthy for the better part of a season, and Tennessee was good enough to beat out the Texans for the division crown even without him last season. Jacksonville is about as schizophrenic a franchise as there is in GZL. If they get off to a decent start and Justin Herr doesn't decide to bench his starting quarterback a few weeks in to the season they could easily return to 2014 type form, when they made the Super Bowl. Perhaps the most intriguing team in the division is Indianapolis. Veteran GM Jason Arnold took over for Merlin Smith this offseason and will be determined to get the Colts removed from the short list of GZL franchises who has never made the postseason. The question mark on the team is QB Ryan Nassib, who showed promise last season but still needs polish before he can be accused of being an elite quarterback.
Houston enters the season with big expectations and Kendall Irving's progression will be the key. Bet on the big kid from Iowa to bounce back. Bet on a tight division race with Tennessee and Houston eventually pulling ahead and a tiebreaker to decide the champion between both 11-5 squads. The Texans will then FINALLY win their first playoff game. I'm not going to predict where they go from there.
(by P_Willis on 07/08/2014)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 25
13th Place Is the First Loser
Texans Hope For 2012 Repeat
The Houston Texans find themselves in a familiar position as the 2017 offseason rolls along. Much like in 2011, the Texans finished 9-7 and a week 17 loss away from a division title. Houston was also the last team out of the playoffs(or 13th place as I like to call it) in both years. The 2012 team bounced back, going 14-2. That team lost Matt Schaub for the season in week 16 and faltered in the playoffs when a then rookie Terence Bennett took the reins. A 2017 repeat would be a welcome sight for a Houston franchise that is desperate to rise above mediocrity(and Terence Bennett is now actually a viable option as a backup in case Kendall Irving were to get hurt). The 2012 Texans are an exception to the rule however, as history shows us that "13th place" teams in GZL do not have a great track record:
Jets 2011 - 6-10
Texans 2012 - 14-2(L, DP)
Patriots 2013 - 6-10
Ravens 2014 - 7-9
Broncos 2015 - 7-9
Ravens 2016 - 9-6-1 (L, CC)
Texans 2017 - ?
As seen above, the only team other than Houston's 2012 squad to make the playoffs following a "13th place" finish was the 2016 Ravens. Oddly enough, the Ravens are also the only other franchise to have twice finished in the agonizing 13th position.
The parallels between the 2012 squad and 2017's don't end at the team's record however. Just like last time, the Texans do not own 1.20. The 2012 team traded WR Leonard Hankerson to get back to 1.19 but then spent the pick on a kicker. While a first round kicker is not going to happen again in Houston, a 14-2 type bounce back is exactly what the franchise is hoping for.
(by P_Willis on 06/28/2014)
Replies - 5 :: Views - 90
Andre Johnson To Retire A Texan
Report: Johnson Set To Accept Veteran Exception Offer
Days after Houston's 31-27 loss in St. Louis dropped the Texans to 5-2, news has leaked out of 2 Reliant Park that Andre Johnson has agreed in principle to a one year deal to return to the team after 3 years away from his original team. Johnson, 35, has spent the 2016 without a team after being released by Washington during the offseason. The former 3rd overall pick is not the athlete he once was, but the Texans are reportedly frustrated with their often times butterfingered receiving corps. Pro Football Focus notes that of the 126 catchable balls thrown to the top 6 Texan receivers, 23(18%) have been dropped. The frustration over this issue has been building within the front office and the coaching staff since Johnson left. Our source within the organization told us that "[Johnson] is not just being brought in to retire in a Texans uniform or be a locker room leader. They worked him out and they want him to see the field. He could bump [Darvin] Adams from the starting lineup, no doubt."
Coach Dennis Green has been entrenched in Houston since 2011 and spent 2 and a half seasons coaching Johnson. When Johnson was amnestied prior to week 11 in 2013, Green was vocal about his displeasure with GM Paul Willis's decision. From his press conference following the move, the always candid Green said, "No, it wasn't unanimous. We just lost one of the best players, and best men, in the world to our arch rivals and got a ********* 5th round pick for him." In Willis's defense, the Chiefs did originally bid a 2nd, but were able to withdraw the offer thanks to a now closed loophole. The Titans got something out of nothing when Johnson was subsequently traded along with CB Kareem Jackson(another former Texan) to the Redskins for a 2nd round pick prior to the 2014 season. That, along with other similar amnesty scenarios, led to the rule change that made it illegal to trade a player acquired via amnesty for a higher round pick than was originally surrendered.
#80 amassed over 2400 yards and hauled in 15 touchdowns in two seasons with Washington despite his increasingly heavy feet. Johnson is expected to resume wearing his trademark #80, which Reuben Randle began representing last season as "a tribute to my hero". Randle is expected to adopt the #10, and 80 will likely become the first retired number in Houston Texan history when Johnson retires.
In Other News: Mcbride Gets Clean Bill of HealthSS Earnest Mcbride is finally ready to go this weekend at Indy. The 26 year old has been out of action since a torn bicep in the preseason sidelined him. Mcbride has been one of the most dependable players on the roster since he was drafted in the 2nd round in 2012 and was named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie campaign. Mcbride is a big strong presence who plays both the run and pass well, and even though Mariano Mcgehee filled in admirably in his absence, Mcbride's return will only make what has been one of the GZL's top defenses this season even better. Mcgehee, 6'1" and 212 pounds, is often used in the nickel or dime when matchups call for it and the coaching staff now has that flexibility returned to them as well.
(by P_Willis on 03/06/2014)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 22
Breaking News: Richardson To Houston?
Report: Trent Richardson To Texans?
Earlier today the San Francisco Chronicle's Erich Branch tweeted that big news could come out of 49ers headquarters any minute. A few hours later Branch followed up, tweeting out simply that "The 49ers and Texans have agreed to terms to send HB Trent Richardson to Houston. 49ers will receive 'a slew of picks' in return." The report has been confirmed by several unnamed but reliable sources in both the Texans' and 49ers' camps. While nothing specific has leaked, one source told us that "the Texans pretty much gave up their draft for Trent. Willis thinks that Foster is over the hill and he was desperate to keep a star behind [Kendall] Irving." There were rumblings throughout 2015 that Christine Michael was drafted to take Foster's spot, but Willis insisted he wanted to bring him back for at least one more season. Updates to follow as more information comes in.
UPDATE: Specifics Revealed!News continues to leak out of both San Francisco and Houston and we know now what the price tag for a Trent Richardson is. Houston has agreed to sent 1.27, 2.5 and 2.27 for the gifted back. The cumulative value of those picks is 1520 on the vaunted draft value chart, or the approximate value of 1.7 + 6.18. Richardson, drafted 4th overall in 2013, has yet to truly live up to the hype after being the highest drafted back in GZL history. While all of the rumors leaked, Richardson was in the practice facility with quarterback Geno Smith and a few other teammates in town voluntarily. When he arrived in the locker room he was swarmed by reporters. When asked his thoughts on the trade, Richardson seemed bemused. After laughing off a few questions, when realization finally dawned on Richardson he shared few words. "Wow, what? Wait...Geno! What's going on man? Where's Heard at?" Richardson quickly left the room, reportedly straight to Maurice Heard's office.
Despite the unusual circumstances of his potential exit from San Fran, the former Heisman nominee will have to live up to his potential in order to make this deal worthwhile to Houston, who already has a talented young back in Christine Michael on the roster. Michael was an excellent spell for Arian Foster last season, as he picked up 492 yards and 8 touchdowns mostly in relief duty. However, Michael was given the chance to start in week 4 against Indianapolis and managed a pedestrian 82 yards on 24 carries. His 3.42 yards per look even worse if you take his 25 yard run out of the equation, on his other 23 carries he managed only 57 and less than 2.5 per.
It's believed that Maurice Heard had no intention of trading Richardson. According to an anonymous 49er exec, "Willis just wouldn't stop calling. Mr. Heard would say 'no' and then the next day he'd call again with a better offer. Willis finally just made an offer he couldn't refuse I guess." A source in Houston claimed that Christine Michael was a part of most of the initial offers, but that the 49ers preferred picks to the young back. Michael's future in Houston could be in question, or he could stay on as a solid backup and speller for Richardson.
In Other News: Orton To Kansas CityIn much less surprising news, Kyle Orton's long bench ride in Houston is finally over. The Texans and Chiefs agreed on a deal that will send the veteran to Kansas City in return for 3.16. Orton could provide the Chiefs with a playoff caliber signal caller while the team searches for a long-term replacement for Andrew Luck. In two seasons with Houston Orton threw just 27 passes, but was 16-27 for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. With the Trent Richardson deal believed to have cost the Texans their first 3 picks, the selection Houston has received here will be their first in the 2016 draft.
(by P_Willis on 12/15/2013)
Replies - 8 :: Views - 96
Texans Preseason Standouts
Some Positives To Take Away From Preseason
The Houston Texans played it safe throughout the first 3 weeks of the preseason. Opting to sit projected starters Kendall Irving/Terence Bennett, Arian Foster, Reuben Randle, Charlie Gantt and Duane Brown on offense. In addition, nearly the entire projected back 7 of the defense sat for the first three. The Texans went 1-2 over those games, with losses to Denver and Pittsburgh following a week one victory over Cleveland.
The Texans have never been hand-selected as an opponent for the preseason, but this year James Parrone made the team one of his choices for the Giants to face. The Texans chose to send out their starters for a test against the Champs, and while it was essentially the "B" team out there, some youngsters were impressive and may have earned starting roles.
LG Sergio Abbott, drafted in the 4th round out of Ohio State, has impressed throughout camps and the preseason. He's battled incumbent starting LG Alvin Bailey for the #1 spot since he was drafted and appears to have won that contest. Finishing the preseason with 18 pancakes and no sacks allowed, Abbott certainly outperformed Abbott(6 pancakes, no sacks) on the stat sheet. The athletic young big appears to have a long future in Houston and it should start week one.
TE Charlie Gantt was signed away from Buffalo as a restricted free agent with no compensation required. The Texans have felt they got a steal all offseason, but the week 4 matchup against the Giants was his first chance to show us what he's capable of. It was a solid debut, Gantt had 2 catches for 25 yards and 4 pancakes. One of those sprung Arian Foster for a 33 yard touchdown score, something Houston is hoping to see multiple repeats of in 2015.
LT Menelik Watson is another rookie penciled in to the starting OL depth chart. Drafted 2.1 out of Florida State, Watson really had no competition for the starting role outside of mentor David Diehl. Diehl is no longer the athlete he once was and Watson impressed the coaching staff enough to have won any battle regardless. Finishing the preseason with 18 sacks and only 1 sack allowed, he'll step in next to LG Dallas Thomas from day one and hopefully provide the Texans with the stability at the position they haven't seen since Eric Winston was released following a short lived franchise tag.
WR Wilson Hanks was taken late in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft and is another Florida State alum. He excelled as a rookie kick returner and slot receiver and looked to be destined for that role again in 2015. That may have changed following a stellar preseason that saw him haul in 17 catches for 232 yards with only 1 drop. With Reuben Randle locked in as the team's top deep threat, Hanks offers a nice combination of speed, strength and size that could allow him to hurdle Darvin Adams in to the starting lineup eventually, but his value as a KR and ability to perform from the slot will keep him out for now.
HB Christine Michael is another 2nd rounder that the Texans have put their trust in. Drafted to replace Stepfan Taylor as the #2 back and eventually take over for Arian Foster as the feature back, Michael got off to a tough start with 9 yards on 8 carries against Cleveland and 34 on 13 against Denver. Over the last two games Michael put up 194 yards on 35 carries, good for 5.54 yards per. That type of production is exactly what the team hopes he can carry over in to the regular season, where the Texans will rely heavily upon the run regardless of who is the starting quarterback..
QB Kendall Irving started slow against the Giants in his professional debut. Maybe it was the nearly 9 months between games, maybe it was nerves, maybe it was a combination of both. Either way, Irving eventually settled down and finished the half 8/19 for 119 yards and a beautiful 38 yard TD strike to Reuben Randle. Irving was also the victim of his receivers, 3 of his passes were dropped by 3 different targets. While he was sacked once and did throw a bad interception, all in all this was a successful first day out for Irving. After the Texans offense was shut out in the first quarter(Hanks' KR TD was only Houston score), they were able to score 3 TD's in the 2nd. For his part, Terence Bennett was 7/12 for 83 yards and a TD with the 2nd string offense. Coach Dennis Green wouldn't name a starter for week one at the post game press conference, saying only that "I liked what I saw from the kid(Irving). He was able to shake the rust off, overcome some adversity and really step it up late in the half. Terence looked good too, we'll take a look at the schedule and then make a decision."
Perhaps the most important victory for the Texans during the preseason is that they came away without a single player listed on the injury report, a staggering bit of luck for a team used to losing key players during the earliest phase of the season.
(by P_Willis on 07/18/2013)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 22
Houston Texans: Providing Care for the Elderly
Houston Acquires Experience In Droves
After the draft the Houston Texans have one of the most inexperienced depth charts in the GZL. With 5 rookies expected to start or receive significant playing time and a grand total of 18 players under 25 expected to see the field for extended periods in 2015, the Texans decided to bring in a wave of experienced veterans to fill out their roster. The Texans, despite what the naysayers would have you believe, are in a great spot with their cap situation after unloading some key pieces with big contracts over the past few years. With the youth on this team expected to grow and demand pay raises in the upcoming years, Houston has taken a conservative approach in free agency. This year, with nearly $30M in cap room available after cutting some loose ends(most notably CB Don Carey, who was thought to be a contender for the nickel until the emergence of Dre Hall in training camp), the Texans decided not to leave money on the table and threw several offers at aging but valuable depth. The one player under 31 who the team made an offer to was CB Clarence Mitchell. Houston thought they could grab a steal by offering a default 3 year deal to the 5th year man from St. Louis, but underestimated the interest elsewhere and lost out.
LG Alan Faneca has been brought in to be the 3rd string at both guard positions while his main duty will be to take youngsters Dallas Thomas, Sergio Abbott and Alvin Bailey under his wing. Thomas was a first round pick in the 2014 draft who struggled at times despite his athleticism. Bailey and Abbott, both mid round picks, need work to polish their game and Abbott especially could benefit from the future Hall of Famer's presence. Bailey and Abbott continue to vouch for the starting right guard spot. The loser is expected to be the primary backup at both LG and RG, with Faneca happy to collect a big paycheck for a year as a cheerleader.
LT David Diehl is in a similar position. While Faneca is unlikely to ever step on the field in a regular season game as a Texan, Diehl's chances are somewhat better as he will be the top backup to both RT Duane Brown and LT Menelik Watson. Watson, drafted at 2.1, is a player that the Texans feel extremely confident about and Diehl will be counted on to shadow the rookie's movements. Growing up in the UK, Watson was never supposed to be a pro football player, at least not American style. After shattering his ankle at 13, Watson's dreams of a futbol career also shattered. After catching on as a basketball player and earning a scholarship at Marist, Watson transferred to junior college to take on a new challenge in American football. Despite only one season at Florida State, he is a prodigy who has soaked up the game and was one of the most fundamentally sound linemen available in this year's draft. With Diehl to help guide him the Texans feel they have a franchise bookend. LT Jeremy Bridges is a solid veteran, but isn't likely to see the field with Diehl on the roster.
C Nick Hardwick was brought in, because if the other young offensive linemen get a mentor then C Khaled Holmes shouldn't be left out. Another former first round pick, Holmes has had a mediocre run so far in Houston. Entering his 3rd season as a pro, Holmes still has a lot to learn and a guy like Hardwick can provide a positive presence.
DT Paul Solai hasn't seen the field in a few seasons, but the 6'4", 344 pounder is very likely to get a chance to shake off some of that rust this year. Of all the signings, Solai has the best chance to actually win a starting job. Houston was very disappointed in 2014 2nd round pick Kawaan Short's rookie campaign. Signing Solai, who is a huge presence who resembles a less athletic Dan Williams, gives the Texans an option in case Short fails to step up his game in his second season. At worst, Solai will get a shot to rotate in from time to time.
P Chris Hanson was brought back to address what is arguably the team's weakest position. After spending about half the year as the team's punter last season, Hanson was cut midway through the season to give a chance to the much younger Ryan Donahue. Donahue didn't take advantage of the opportunity, and Hanson will once again take over.
(by P_Willis on 07/08/2013)
Replies - 2 :: Views - 38
2015 Houston Texans TC
2015 Houston Texans: A New, New Era
Trainwreck, nightmare, utter disaster. The 2014 Houston Texans went from being picked by some pundits as a Super Bowl representative to the worst record in the league and the first pick in the 2015 GZL entry draft.
The start of the season was an omen of things to come. With Terence Bennett firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback after a preseason trade sent Matt Schaub to New York(the Jets would later send Schaub to Green Bay where he finally got to start a GZL playoff game), the Texans opened the season with an egg in Jacksonville. Rooke first round pick Bull Griggs made his coming out party in his first pro game, goring the Texans with 156 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Jags took the lead early and never looked back and the Texans absorbed a 45-10 loss to start what would become a series of embarrassments for the franchise.
Week 2 saw Terence Bennett essentially give away a game on a pick 6 in Indy territory that led to a 21-11 loss at the Colts. Week 3 was another exercise in futility, as budding superstar Boston Mallett dissected the Texans defense, finishing his day 17 of 22 with 376 yards and 2 touchdowns. To make things worse, Bennett threw 5 INT's before a couple of garbage time touchdowns made it 41-14. Week 4's loss wasn't as embarassing, dropping a 23-17 game against Carolina in their home debut.
After an 0-4 start, the Texans finally got in the win column with a surprising win over 4-0 Buffalo. Robert Griffin did everything in his power to give the game away, but it took a 13 point comeback and overtime for Houston to take advantage. A win is a win, but this one hardly inspired confidence. That lack of confidence was enforced by a week 6 failure against Oakland. The final score of 26-21 doesn't look so bad, but once again Houston was outclassed in the first half as they went in to halftime down 20-0. Week 7 provided a bye, and week 8 saw the Texans pull another upset. This time Tampa, 5-2, came to Houston and the Texans once again did just enough to escape. The 27-25 win was the second close victory over a top team, but back to back losses against Baltimore and then Cincinnati plunged the team to a 2-7 mark and essentially killed any chance of a heroic playoff run.
The team would win 2 of the next 3 to pull to 4-8 before dropping the final four, including 2 with Bradley Cooley and 1 with Zac Robinson as the starting quarterback. The season ended as one of the worst in franchise history, Arian Foster had what by his standards was a terrible season with only 1085 yards. Terence Bennett failed to improve significantly on a rough first two seasons. The defense and offensive line regressed despite some previously exciting additions.
Through some strange tiebreaker scenarios and a lot of luck down the stretch, the silver lining was that Houston now held the first and sixth picks in the upcoming college draft.
Restricted Free Agency: Bennett Stays
Entering the restricted free agency period, GM Paul Willis made it known throughout the league that Houston would be offering QB Terence Bennett the highest tender(1st and 3rd round compensation). The twist, Houston would not match any offer Bennett received, which would allow the team to draft Iowa quarterback Kendall Irving with the first pick while also giving Bennett a chance to see the field elsewhere. There was some surprise in the front office when Bennett was not given an offer, but the team took it in stride and quickly signed the slowly improving Bennett to a 7 year, $37M deal. This led many around the league to assume that Houston would take cornerback Travis Murphy with the first pick in the draft, though the front office was far from decided on which way they would go, despite having Bennett locked down in a long-term deal well below normal market price.
Bennett wasn't the only story in Houston during restricted free agency. When Willis saw Buffalo had offered a no compensation tender on tight end Charlie Gantt he quickly faxed an offer to Gantt's agent. The 6 year, $30M deal was the best offer Gantt received and Buffalo decided not to match it. A former 3rd round pick by Washington, Gantt is a gifted athlete with the attributes to be a solid blocker and receiver. After trading Owen Daniels after 2012 and letting aging Dallas Clark's contract expire after 2013, the Texans depended on Zach Miller and Tory Humphrey to man the position in 2014. After unacceptable results, tight end was high on the to-do list and Gantt was a pleasant surprise.
Free Agency: Nope
For the second straight offseason, the Texans decided to skip the match-eligible free agency phase. After restructuring MLB Brian Cushing last season and resigning FS Philip Ross earlier in the offseason the Texans felt comfortable sticking to the plan and addressing any other looming needs in the draft. The lone exception was CB Jabari Greer, who is a mentor to Nigel Malone and would potentially serve the same role for a rookie if the team were to nab one. Tampa Bay made a modest effort to sign Greer, but the cap happy Texans were able to match without any worry.
The Draft: Stockpiling
With plenty of time to consider what to do with the first pick, Houston explored every option. Once Terence Bennett was signed to a 7 year extension the selection went on to the trade block. Most offers the Texans received seemed half-hearted at best and a blatant insult at worst. After declaring that the decision had been made to select Iowa quarterback Kendall Irving, the team came fairly close to hammering out a deal with Miami. Ultimately the deal fell through when Houston pushed for a combo of either 1.7 and 1.6 or 1.9 and 1.14, while Miami's best offer was 1.14, 1.16 and a future 2nd. After Willis insisted that one of Miami's top 2 picks be involved the Dolphins informed him that they had a deal in place to move elsewhere in the top 4, presumedly calling Houston's bluff that they would indeed select Kendall Irving at 1.1.
With Miami out of the race for 1.1, it became evident that Willis wasn't going to get what he wanted to give up the first pick and quickly struck a deal with Green Bay that sent 1.6(acquired for Matt Schaub along with what became 3.1) to the Packers for 1.11 and 2.18. The slide down gave Houston a pick they believed would be another starter in the 2nd and the ability to grab an elite talent for a cheaper price tag in the first. It would be the only "draft day trade" Houston made, making it one of the quieter drafts in Willis' normally wheeling and dealing history.
When the Texans finally came on the clock, the decision was made. Kendall Irving would join a crowded quarterback crew in Houston and provide the team with what it hopes is the best player under center they've had since Schaub was dealt. The team did strongly consider Travis Murphy for a time, but after researching past drafts they decided against the electrifying, but injury prone corner with questionable strength. The top player on the team's board was actually Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson, whose physical ability is among the very best to ever enter GZL and comes along with one of the best skill sets for a rookie in the league's history. After spending a first round pick in each of the last two drafts on an offensive lineman however, Houston felt they had to pass and Irving was too talented at too important a position to overlook.
With the 11th pick the Texans selected arguably the best pass rusher in the draft in Georgia LE Cornelius Washington. Washington, who does have trouble diagnosing reads and sometimes whiffs on tackles, was one of the few "freaks" in the draft. Early on in the process he was ignored on the draft board due to being so raw and the presence of the very promising Jonathan Massaquoi on the roster, but once again Willis felt like the value was too great to ignore. The move gives Houston two potential elite pass rushers, which was considered vital after the team managed a paltry 23 sacks(T-30th) in 2014. Willis had hoped that David Amerson would still be available here, and also considered CB Brent Parrish and LT Menelik Watson at this point.
With over 20 picks between 1.11 and 2.1, the team examined potential trade down scenarios with the first pick of the second round throughout the second half of the first. The Texans had a deal in place to move down if CB Brent Parrish, LT Menelik Watson and OLB Josh Jordan were gone, but only Parrish went before the next pick. With a decision to make between Watson and Jordan, Willis decided to trust his board. Houston had Watson graded as a top 10 pick thanks to his above average physical ability and top notch skillset. For a rookie Watson(70 AWR/89 PBK/88 RBK) is about as polished as they come, so it didn't hurt TOO much when Dallas took Jordan at 2.5.
With 2.18 Houston decided it would take one of the last players off of its original board(the first board consisted of about 44 players give or take a couple). While DT John Jenkins(2.21 to NYG) was rated slightly higher, Houston was unable to trade incumbent Kawaan Short and decided to secure Arian Foster's heir. Texas A&M's Christine Michael has a woman's name and a man's game. The former Aggie is a near mirror image of Foster, and Houston is hoping he can duplicate the success of GZL's all-time leading rusher at the bargan price of a second rounder.
3.24 was the next pick on the docket, and Willis' eyes began to light up as team after team passed on far and away the top prospect left on Houston's board, OLB Jerry Ellis. With Ellis' name already written on the card, the bottom fell out when Seattle took the Penn State backer just one spot ahead of the Texans. In a panic, Willis sent in Tennessee CB Dre Hall's name as the replacement. Hall is a solid athlete with good size at 6'1", 194 pounds but will need to come to camp better than advertised if he wants to compete for a starting, or even nickel job.
After the 3rd round disappointment the Texans were happy to select Ohio State OG Sergio Abbott with 4.1. Abbott is a very intriguing prospect(68 SPD/93 STR/53 AGI/69 ACC - 63 AWR/80 PBK/83 RBK) and should compete with Alvin Bailey for a starting job at RG. I thought this was one of the better value picks in the draft.
The rest of the draft was spent on depth, although a couple could be keepers or possible trade bait if they outperform their combines. Florida State LE Eric Dorsey is unspectacular, but provides a genuine backup at the pass rush end slot. Georgia SS Shawn Williams(89 SPD/78 STR) is fairly raw but could be a steal, especially for a team that often sees its starting safeties injured. K Clint Ross is likely training camp fodder.
Post Draft UFA: TBD
This phase of the offseason hasn't happened yet, but it's doubtful Houston will do much more than grab some affordable depth players.
Training Camp: Observations
Rookies Cornelius Washington and Christine Michael have been spotted on multiple occasions at the Houston area Golden Corral loading up on cheap gristly steaks and macaroni and cheese. Both appear to have packed on some pounds as a result of their accelerated diets. The added bulk makes them look much similar to previous weight gainers, Jonathan Massaquoi and Arian Foster. At 6'4" and an estimated 275 LBS, Washington now looks every bit the part of the Mario Williams replacement Houston hopes they drafted, and Michael looks like a shorter, stockier version of Arian Foster.
WR Wilson Hanks was one of the few bright spots in a stormcloud covered season in 2014 and is doing everything he can to improve upon that. Hanks and fellow 2014 second rounder Nigel Malone have been challenging each other nearly daily in minicamps and are running stride for stride, sometimes outpacing speedster Reuben Randle in drills.
2nd year man Dallas Thomas and rookie Menelik Watson appear to have formed a friendship, which is good for the left side of the Houston offensive line. The two buddies have pushed each other on the bench press, with Watson winning most contests but Thomas appears to be making up ground as camp goes on.
We already knew Kendall Irving had a big arm, but the rockets he's been slinging in camp so far are likely the most impressive this franchise has ever seen. Still being worked with on his feet, a good deal of passes have been behind or high.
Training Camp Battles: QB Battle Highlights Camp
Quarterback -- Kendall Irving vs. Terence Bennett vs. Kyle Orton
So far Bennett has been the best of the three, but not by as much as he probably needs to be if he's to be the day 1 starter. Irving has shown moments of greatness and the lowlights that come with learning a pro offense for the first time. Orton is steady as usual, but most often working with the third team or acting as an on-field coach to Irving. My guess is that Bennett will continue to win the battles but lose the war, the team has too much invested in Irving for him not to start at some point this year even if it isn't week 1.
Halfback -- Arian Foster vs. Christine Michael
This hasn't been much of a battle, but it says a lot for Michael that he's completely taken over the role as the #2 back during camp. Stepfan Taylor has received only a few carries and Damien Berry has the look of a man who knows his time is short.
Wide Receiver -- Reuben Randle vs. Darvin Adams vs. Wilson Hanks
Hanks was a revelation as a rookie, putting up 714 yards primarily as a big play slot receiver and the team's primary kick returner(27 YPR, 1 TD). It will be tough for him to break in to the starting lineup however, as Randle's size/speed combination makes him the defacto deep threat and Darvin Adams is a much more polished player with similar physical ability. Hanks' success as WR3 last season also seems to make this a done deal.
Nickelback -- Don Carey vs. Dre Hall
Hall has missed all of camp due to a previous surgery, but what little we've seen of him suggests that he could win the job here. At 6'1", if he can return from his injury with the same kind of explosiveness he displayed in college then he has a realistic chance to upend Carey, or possibly even Malone or DeAngelo Smith.
2015 Houston Texans: A New New Era
The nightmare that was 2014 is over. The 2015 Texans appear to have a brighter future, but things won't be easy. If Kendall Irving is given the starting quarterback job, the team could struggle early on after failing to significantly upgrade the defense with the exception of Cornelius Washington. On the other hand, if he plays to his full potential the defense would be given a huge boost and could look more like the top 5 defense that showed up when Matt Schaub and Arian Foster had the offense converting 3rd downs.
If Terence Bennett starts the season, he will be on the shortest of leashes. The Harvard grad has shown upside, but fans still remember his two playoff losses and multiple interceptions performances(especially that 8 INT game against Miami). But the best case scenario for Houston this season is for Bennett to become a franchise quarterback. When he is on his game he reminds the front office of a young Drew Brees, and that's exactly the type of player Houston needs to run their ball control offense.
No matter who is quarterback the team needs more out of its run game. Arian Foster had easily the worst year of his career in 2014, but with improved QB play and the first legitimate backup the team has had since Benjarvus Green-Ellis there could be a renaissance for the running game this year.
Defensively the team needs to step up against the pass. Without DeAngelo Hall to lock receivers down and a pass rush to keep QB's on their toes, the Texans were ripped to shreds throughout 2014. This year, Cornelius Washington should add some sizzle to the pass rush and DT Kawaan Short can't be much worse than he was during a frustrating rookie campaign. The team returns all 4 starters from the secondary, which should be improved. The linebacking corps is still led by Brian Cushing, but average outside backers Slade Norris and Brad Jones need to go back to overachieving like they have in the past. At the end of the day the defense really needs some help from the offense, keeping them off the field is the best thing that the team can do for this unit right now.
Even if everything goes right from within, this is still one of the toughest divisions in the league. Jacksonville finally woke up in 2014 and Tennessee will look to continue its streak of playoff appearances. I could see anywhere from 3 to 11 wins for this young team, but an 8 win season appears to be in the cards at the moment.
(by P_Willis on 07/02/2013)
Replies - 4 :: Views - 78
Texans Training Camp
2014 Houston Texans: A New Era
I titled the 2013 Texans season preview "If they stay healthy...", because the team had the potential to win the Super Bowl barring any major injuries. Maybe I tempted fate too much because, lo and behold, a 6-2 riding a 5 game winning streak once again lost their MVP quarterback. When Matt Schaub went down against the Chargers the front office blew a gasket, exercising their amnesty option on wide receiver Andre Johnson. After Kansas City withdrew their bid of a second round pick, Johnson went to arch rival Tennessee for the bargain price of a 5th round pick. As well as being a knee jerk reaction, the move did provide a function, as Houston had the cap space to bring in recently amnestied quarterback Mark Sanchez after the Johnson release and Schaub's placement on IR. Sanchez was to be the present and the future for Houston, but the Redskins, Patriots and others beat out the Texans bid thanks to a worse record and the former Jet was shipped off to Foxboro.
Terence Bennett was pressed in to action last season after Schaub was injured late in the season and the team backed in to the playoffs before being quickly ousted by Tennessee. His 2013 campaign started off as one of the worst in quarterbacking history. Coming in for Schaub against San Diego, Bennett finished with 2 touchdowns but 3 costly interceptions. Then it was back home to Texas to take on Miami. Arian Foster ran the ball well, the defense stifled Eli Manning and the run game and even Bennett slung the ball around the field well. It was just those darn 8 interceptions he threw that ruined all the fun. Time after time Bennett would counter an impressive series of plays with a boneheaded mistake. Despite all the bad throws the team still had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Bennett threw his record tying 8th pick at the Miami 2 yard line when he decided to test triple coverage in the middle of the field.
Despite pressure from fans the team stuck with Bennett for the rest of the season and his play leveled out, finishing with a respectable 11 TD/7 INT ratio to finish the year as the Texans won 5 of their last 6 to claim the AFC's fifth seed and a trip to Miami. The Texans dominated the first matchup between the teams, but in the rematch Miami was the better team for the majority of the contest. Houston's D managed to keep Miami out of the endzone after back to back drives stalled inside the 2 and the slugfest continued in to the 4th quarter. Brad Jones recovered a Brandon Marshall fumble and returned it in to field goal range late in the game and 2012 first round pick Reid Forrest came on to boot a potential game winning 39 yard field goal with just over 40 seconds left. Forrest was 33 of 35 on the season but shanked the biggest kick of his young career off of the right upright and the Dolphins took over with great field position. Two long Eli Manning passes later and Miami was in range for a game winner, and it didn't take a first round pick to make that one. Houston's season ended in disappointing fashion for the second straight year, and a very chaotic offseason would follow.
Let's Just Do A Bunch of Moves
The front office got to work immediately following the season. A deal was quickly in place to acquire 1.14 from Kansas City in return for DE Jason Pierre-Paul and FS Nigel McDaniel. Pierre-Paul was acquired as a replacement for Mario Williams but when the team drafted Jonathan Massaquoi his role as the team's primary pass rusher was lost and he spent most of the season playing RE, primarily a run stopping role in the Texan defense. Nigel McDaniel was a late round pick who played well when called upon and should provide a solid starting option for the Chiefs.
Shortly after nabbing 1.14 the team struck a deal with Washington that sent 1.22, 3.22 and CB DeAngelo Hall to the Redskins for 1.12 and 4.12. Hall's cap number was a major concern for Houston and, like Andre Johnson, players who have lost a step don't seem to be in favor with GM Paul Willis. The Texans paid a steep price to move up 10 spots, but they felt like they'd made progress towards their ultimate goal by collecting 1.12 and 1.14. Houston made several overtures to teams picking in the top 3 with the hope of drafting CB Dee Milliner or Xavier Rhodes. A deal with Indy seemed imminent briefly but eventually fell through as negotiations progressed between the division rivals.
Tampa Bay made it known that LT Donald Penn was available for the bargain price of a 4th round pick and Houston was quick to put in an offer. With Penn in the stable, high priced franchise player Eric Winston was shopped aggressively before ultimately being cut. Houston thought they could get some value back for the incredibly athletic Winston, but he seemed to get a huge ego boost after being franchise tagged and teams weren't willing to take on his contract demands in a trade.
In a surprise move, the Texans bid 2.22 on QB Kyle Orton when the Broncos exercised their amnesty option on him. The bid won them Orton, who the Texans saw as a cheaper alternative to Matt Schaub who can provide Terence Bennett with wisdom as he transitions in to the starting quarterback role. Immediately following the acquisition Matt Schaub was officially placed on the trade block. It is believed that a deal is in the works to send Schaub to the AFC East before the season starts but we won't report on that until we hear something more concrete.
Free Agency: Who Needs It?
Despite a lot of upheaval, the Texans glanced at the free agent market and put their noses up. Without any glaring holes to fill the team decided not to throw around any big money to established veterans, with a couple of exceptions. Knowing that one way or another a young corner would be added to the roster, Houston signed washed up Marcus Trufant to a one year deal as a mentor to whoever that young man might be. Houston also through a league default offer at TE Zach Miller, who couldn't make it as a member of the Titans but will likely start for Houston this season after Dallas Clark was allowed to walk. Houston HATED this year's crop of rookie tight ends and showed no indication that they'd take one in this draft.
The team did re-sign a few valuable free agents, including RE Antwan Odom and WR Dexter McCluster.
The Draft: Not the Master Plan, But Not Too Bad
Houston's primary target in the draft was cornerback, more specifically Dee Milliner or Xavier Rhodes. When it became apparent that sending 1.12 and 1.14 to get in to position to draft one of those two players wasn't an option, there was some confusion in the war room. Without a corner on the board that the team felt was worthy of 1.12 GM Paul Willis pulled the trigger on Tennessee LG Dallas Thomas. Thomas was "the last elite player at a need position on our board" according to Willis, and he gives the Texans another young piece on a line that appears to finally be complete. The Houston offensive line will now start 3 first round picks(RT Duane Brown, C Khaled Holmes) and boasts a youthful interior as Thomas joins second year men Khaled Holmes and Alvin Bailey.
Corner remained the priority with 1.14 but the team simply couldn't talk themselves in to taking Washington CB Desmond Trufant at 1.14 and looked to trade down. Eventually the team agree to send the pick to New York in return for 2.14, 2.25, 2.31 and 4.21(Houston also sent 7.22).
With a trio of second round picks to work with, Houston felt comfortable they could get three eventual starters but weren't certain they'd be able to nab the replacement for DeAngelo Hall that had been the priority all along. That fear was dispelled when Kansas State's Nigel Malone was still sitting on the board as the team went on the clock at 2.14. Malone was ranked just below Desmond Trufant(1.20 to Indy) and Jamell Fleming(1.31 to New Orleans) on Houston's board so the team felt they got lucky. The 5'10" corner is expected to start opposite DeAngelo Smith immediately since he already possesses good instincts and hands. He'll only get better as the year goes along with Marcus Trufant to guide him in the film room.
With all their starting roster spots pretty much locked in the Texans turned in WR Wilson Hanks name on their card at 2.25. The former Seminole has good size at 6'1", 220 pounds and possesses enough speed to unseat Dexter McCluster as the slot receiver. Hanks is also an excellent blocking receiver and should help spring more big runs when the team runs out of spread formations. Almost immediately after this pick was made Dexter McCluster was sent to New Orleans along with 6.22 for 3.21.
With 2.31 the Texans made their first true "Best Player Available" selection by taking Purdue DT Kawaan Short. For the past few years Roy Miller has clung to a starting role next to the outstanding Dan Williams, but that run is likely over now that Short is on the roster. Kawaan is a 6'3", 315 pound freak with the quickness to ruin a center or guard's day whenever he enters the field. While not as strong as his size would suggest, if he stays in the weight room the Texans will have one of the more frightening DT combos in the league in a few seasons.
The Texans entered the draft without a third round pick, but the McCluster trade allowed them to select Stanford HB Stepfan Taylor at 3.21. Taylor, a balanced back with good size at 215, provides Arian Foster with the most complete backup he's ever had. Every #2 back the Texans have had over the past 3 seasons has carried the ball over 100 times, and with Terence Bennett expected to start Taylor should get enough carries to approach 1000 yards off the bench.
The Texans next looked toward their back to back picks in the 4th round with an eye on depth. After targets like CB's Trumaine Johnson and Josh Norman, LE Ezekiel Ansah(who Houston saw at OLB) and OLB Tavon Fields went off the board it was easy to select Florida OLB Jelani Jenkins at 4.21. Jenkins is a bit undersized at 6'0" but is bulky for his height at 237 pounds. He reminds many in the office of starting ROLB Brad Jones, who made the Pro Bowl in 2012.
With the very next pick Houston went with FS Troy Royle to replace Nigel McDaniel. Like Jenkins, Royle is undersized(5'11", 189 LBS), but his speed makes him the perfect jack of all trades backup in the secondary. With the quickness to play corner, the strength to play either safety position and the hands to take advantage of opposing quarterback's mistakes we expect Royle to be a productive substitute when called upon.
The rest of the draft was essentially filler. LG Max Stone is a gifted athlete, but his upper body strength was a concern that dropped him down the board and he's been involved in trade talks. CB William Runyon has good size at 6'1" but lacks the speed or polish to unseat those ahead of him in a crowded secondary and he was cut early in training camp. FS Tommy Ressman appears to be a keeper, he doesn't have any particularly amazing attributes but does possess the size(6'2", 213 LBS) that the Texans appreciate in their secondary.
Post Draft UFA: Still No Punter
After failing to procure a punter in the draft, Maximillian Bauer became the primary target of post draft free agency. Apparently the Texans didn't offer enough when they faxed a 5 year, $5 million dollar contract to Bauer's agent and the young boot will sign elsewhere. Houston did acquire some valuable depth in the form of RE Greg Peterson and WR/KR Stefan Logan. With Dexter McCluster gone Logan should have the edge over Brice McCain as the primary kick and punt returner. Peterson reminds many of an "Antwan Odom lite" and will back up Odom at the RE spot. Houston is still in the process of identifying a punter, something the fan base has grown used to over the past few years with one year of Matt Turk, 2 of Dave Zastudil and Ben Graham sitting in for a season last year.
Training Camp: Observations
WR Reuben Randle appears to have taken Wilson Hanks under his wing. Randle, who led all rookies in receiving last year, has vowed that he wants to become an even more dangerous deep threat in 2014 and he wants to take Hanks along for the ride. Foot races between the two are clearly in Randle's advantage, but Hanks appears to be getting behind defensive backs more and more often as camp goes on.
Hanks, drafted with 2.25, keeps the Texans streak of 2nd round wide receivers rolling. Leonard Hankerson(2011), Darvin Adams(2012) and Reuben Randle(2013) have all been good finds for Houston in that round and it would surprise nobody if the team takes another in the 2014 draft.
Left defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi put on about 10 pounds last season and he continues to work on his strength training while tutoring rookies Kawaan Short and Stepfan Taylor on the art of gaining weight. Short, who is listed at 315 pounds but appears heavier, hasn't left Massaquoi's side often during camp, appearing just as eager to improve his functional strength. Stepfan Taylor hangs with Short and "Quoi" but is generally glued to the hip of Arian Foster. Foster suggested that Taylor follow his lead and put on some extra pounds, when the GZL's all time leading rusher added 10 pounds to his frame he was able to drag tacklers and fall forward more often.
Now that he appears to be the franchise quarterback moving forward, Terence Bennett has been working with independent QB coach Jeff George on improving his arm strength. Bennett wants to be able to make throws that Matt Schaub couldn't, and there's no question that he has more zip on his passes than Schaub ever did.
With DeAngelo Hall gone, DeAngelo Smith and Nigel Malone will feel pressure to step up their games. Malone is built in the Hall mold and he's listened to Smith's reports on what kind of work Hall did to maintain his great field speed while he was here. Smith on the other hand has worked a lot on his flexibility, hoping to avoid a DeAngelo Hall-like injury history as the team's top corner.
Training Camp Battles: Not Much To Fight About
Defensive Tackle -- Roy Miller vs. Kawaan Short
Roy Miller was brought in via a trade with the Buccaneers by Willis' predecessor and every offseason seems like Miller's last in Houston until we get through the draft and free agency without a big name added. That's over now that Kawaan Short was selected at 2.31. Short has better size and agility than Miller and the slight advantage Miller carries in strength will probably not keep him his job. Rumor has it that Houston tried to find a trade partner to send Miller for a mid round pick after selecting Short, so it seems like this battle is done before it started.
Quarterback -- Terence Bennett vs. Kyle Orton vs. Matt Schaub
It really is a shame that Matt Schaub's career in Houston has died such a quiet death. After injuries have derailed 4 straight seasons, it's a matter of when and where and not if Schaub will be elsewhere in 2014. Paul Willis suggested to Schaub that he shouldn't come to training camp and Schaub has obliged. That leaves Terence Bennett and Kyle Orton to fight it out for the starting job, which is Bennett's to lose and he's winning the competition. The 3rd year man still makes bad reads and lets some throws get away from him, but you can start to see what the higher ups must have seen in him more and more everyday. Orton appears to have taken to his backup/coach role with a grace Schaub likely wouldn't have matched were he here.
Slot Wide Receiver -- Wilson Hanks vs. Stefan Logan vs. Ruvell Martin
It's clear that the team wants Hanks to win this position quickly so the team can move forward with no question marks for Terence Bennett. So far, so good. These are three very different players, 6'4" Martin is a veteran possession specialist who has made big plays for the team in the past. 5'7" Logan is a return specialist who has started for Detroit in the past. Hanks is the happy medium, a 6'1" rookie who has the speed to stretch the field and the strength to make tough catches over the middle. The thing coaches seem to like best about Hanks is how good of a run blocker he is. Having the diminutive Dexter McCluster in the slot for the past few years, it will be interesting to see how the run game fares with the much more reliable Hanks blocking from that position going forward.
Backup Safety -- Troy Royle vs. Tommy Ressman
There is no question that Houston will start Phillip Ross and Earnest McBride at the safety positions, but who backs them up is a good question. Both Ross and McBride have a tendency to throw their bodies around recklessly and miss portions of games while walking off minor injuries so this is an important position to address. Royle appears to have the edge, not only does he fly around the field more effectively, he's been better and shedding blockers and bringing down running backs. Ressman's advantage is the 3 inches and 24 pounds he has on Royle, but coaches have been putting Royle on the field more and more while Ressman's seeing less PT everyday.
2014 Houston Texans: A New Era
The Texans were able to take advantage of a weak schedule down the stretch to finish 5-3 with Bennett as the primary starter last season. That will be tough to reproduce in 2014, Bennett will have to start both Tennessee games and the schedule should feature the NFC South(not sure about this, I went back and looked and the South has had the NFC East, North, West and then East the last 4 seasons...so we really should've played the South last season) and AFC North. Some think that Schaub may actually come back and play if a deal isn't reached by midseason, an intriguing theory. If Terence Bennett plays the first 8 games and the team struggles, he'll have his experience and then Schaub could ride in as the white knight and save the season..
Things in the division aren't going to get any easier. Indianapolis has endured varying levels of incompetence in the GZL era but Merlin Smith seems to finally have brought stability and a canny mind. No longer will the team trade away studs like Mark Ingram in favor of a Reggie Bush, unfortunately for the Texans and the rest of the division. Jacksonville has also struggled in recent years after winning the South in 2010 and 2011. If Phillip Rivers and Bull Griggs can stay healthy that team is as dangerous as any in the league. The Titans always continue to improve and will be the favorites to win the South with good reason. A 14-2 2013 campaign fell just shy of a Super Bowl appearance and they'll be hungry to prove the doubters wrong in 2014.
When it all comes down to it, this year's Texans are one of the hardest teams we've ever had to forecast. Expect a lot of Arian Foster and Stepfan Taylor early as the team develops trust with Bennett as the starter. Expect a defense starting a rookie corner to give up some big plays late in games when they're trying to hold on to a lead or keep a close game tight. Expect a drop off in production from the tight end position, but higher numbers from the outside receiver position. Expect a team that plays every game close win or lose. Expect a 7-10 win season and a shot at the #6 seed.
(by P_Willis on 01/10/2013)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 22
Texans Declare Schaub 2012 GZL MVP
Willis Crowns Schaub 2012 MVP
As the Texans reported to training camp on Friday, Houston general manager Paul Willis awarded quarterback Matt Schaub with a replica of the GZL's Most Valuable Player trophy. The league office went through some upheaval following the Super Bowl but ultimately came away from the process stronger, unfortunately the league's award voting process never took place. Willis took things in to his own hands, stating that "Matt was the MVP, I don't even think there's an argument. He really only played 12 games and still put up better numbers than just about anyone. You could maybe make an argument for Ronnie Brown or even Arian [Foster] but if you're going to be honest with yourself...it was Matt."
Schaub, who played the majority of only 12 games, averaged over 278 yards per game, 2.67 touchdowns and only threw 3 interceptions all year long. The former Falcon's quarterback rating was an incredible 124.3, more than 22 points better than his closest competitor(Drew Brees). Schaub's problem has always been the ability to stay on the field, and once again he failed to remain healthy for the full season. During an interview with GZL Hard Knocks Radio, Willis was asked how many games he thought Schaub would play in in 2012 and Willis' response was 12. Unfortunately for Houston that was the correct answer, when Schaub went down for the season in week 16 it killed the Texans' momentum heading in to the playoffs. The Texans lost in the divisional playoff round to Tennessee, who the Texans and Schaub had previously defeated by 20 points in week 8 and then 12 in week 15. As important as Arian Foster is to the Texans offense, it's clear that Schaub is the team's MVP and while Willis' flag waving may be obnoxious, he's probably right about who the 2012 GZL MVP should have been.
(by P_Willis on 07/20/2012)
Replies - 2 :: Views - 64
Texans 2013 Training Camp
2013 Houston Texans: "If They Stay Healthy..."
2012 easily goes down in the books as the most successful season in Texans franchise history. The team finished in the top 10 in every major statistical category(2nd in total offense, 7th in passing offense, 4th in rushing offense, 1st in scoring offense, 2nd in total defense, 10th in pass defense, 1st in rush defense and 3rd in scoring defense) and looked like the favorites to win it all late in the season. Despite a 14-2 regular season record, the 2012 Houston Texans once again fell short of the ultimate goal after Matt Schaub's(seen left in Rascal) week 16 injury kept him out of the playoffs. The Texans would host the Tennessee Titans in the divisional playoffs but came up short with rookie 4th round pick Terence Bennett at the helm of the offense. Schaub's injury was simply too much for Houston to overcome, as the oft-injured quarterback was on an MVP pace with over 3,300 yards, a 65% completion percentage and a 32 to 3 touchdown to interception ratio. Terence Bennett, taken with 4.20 in the 2012 draft, gave it his best effort but was simply unable to reproduce Schaub's mastery of the Texans offense. While he wasn't ready to take the Texans on a deep playoff run, Bennett did show enough potential that the team believes he can be groomed as the heir apparent to Schaub.
While Schaub was the undisputed MVP of a dominant regular season team, it wasn't just the former Cavalier shining bright in Texas in 2012. 2011 Offensive Player of the Year Arian Foster had another stellar campaign, rushing for 1873 yards with a 5.17 yards per carry average and 12 touchdowns. Foster also pitched in with 194 receiving yards and a touchdown catch. After a slow start Andre Johnson also kept up his end of the bargain with another 1,200+ yard season and 14 touchdown receptions. Rookie WR Darvin Adams was a pleasant surprise, after missing the first 8 games of the regular season due to an injury in the opening preseason he stormed on to the scene with 831 yards and 5 touchdowns in just half of a season. Owen Daniels remained a steady force at tight end, picking up nearly 600 yards, 7 touchdowns and 65 pancake blocks.
Defensively the Texans made a huge leap forward. A 16th ranked defense in 2011 improved by better than 40 yards per game and finished the season 2nd in the league in total defense. The key to the transformation wasn't a new addition or a scheme switch, it was more likely due to 10 returning starters all improving as a team and settling in to the defense that Ted Cottrell introduced in 2011. While the defense was more than the sum of its parts, there were a few key cogs that made the machine run so well. Brian Cushing(seen right) has established himself as one of the premier inside linebackers in the GZL after an incredible season that saw him pick up 127 tackles(23 for loss) and 19 pass deflections. Cushing's improvement against the pass was one reason the Texans defense was able to get off the field on 3rd downs at a much better rate than in 2011. While Cushing was great, when it comes to linebackers who are great in coverage no one can claim more merit than OLB Brad Jones. Jones, who played well in 2011, picked up 6 interceptions in 2012 on his way to the Pro Bowl.
Jones was only outmatched on the team in interceptions by DeAngelo Hall. Hall, who pulled down 7 picks, had his first healthy season as a Texan and played in all 16 games for the first time in recent memory. Hall and Jones both made the Pro Bowl and were joined by stalwart LE Mario Williams(15 sacks) and rookie 2nd round strong safety Earnest McBride, who was a force against the run and forced 3 fumbles.
Fighting the Cap: Texans Say Goodbye To Team Leaders
Unfortunately for Houston, 2012 was something of an end of an era, as salary cap woes heading in to 2013 would force the team to make some very tough decisions involving core members of the team. Many depth players were released prior to the opening of free agency. Those cuts created a small amount of space for the Texans to work with, but more moves had to be made in order for the team to field a complete roster. Three key players of the team were taking up roughly $25 million dollars of cap space for Houston and all three were dealt in trades in order to claim that space.
First in line was All-World left end Mario Williams, who is 2nd all time in sacks in GZL history with 39. The Texans fielded several offers from many different teams before agreeing to send the premier pass rusher to Seattle for fellow LE Jason Pierre-Paul, CB Don Carey and 2.5. Pierre-Paul gave the team a replacement at what GM Paul Willis believes is one of the most important positions in the game and CB Don Carey will replace CB Jason Allen, the team's aging nickelback whose expired contract was not renewed.
Next up was tight end Owen Daniels. Daniels, who just turned 30, was traded to Indianapolis for 3.4. This was solely a cap move as Daniels still has a few good seasons left in him and Houston wouldn't have sent him to a division rival if anyone else had come calling, even with a lesser offer. Tight ends aren't the most valued position in GZL but Daniels was always a tremendous contributor for Houston, he produced nearly 1900 yards and 200 pancake blocks in the last 3 seasons.
Last up was RE Will Smith, who was signed away from New Orleans in 2011 and immediately gave the Texans a presence opposite Mario Williams who held up against the run and chipped in 6 sacks in each of his seasons with the team. Smith was the epitomy of a cap casualty, his contract called for him to charge Houston nearly $9 million against the cap in 2013 and Kansas City got a deal and a half by sending just LG Derek Sherrod in return. Sherrod, a 4th round pick in 2012, is likely a backup at best in Houston but has an affordable contract.
Free Agency: Stop Gaps
Houston GM Paul Willis hasn't had so much cap space(the Texans had over $25 million to spend heading in to the match-eligible free agency phase) since 2011, when the team overspent on several players and ended up creating the cap situation that caused the jettison of the three key players mentioned above. With that in mind, Willis stayed quiet during the match eligible phase, offering only one reasonable contract to San Diego punter Robert Malone. The Chargers matched the offer and Houston came away empty from the first phase of free agency.
In the first round of open free agency, Houston targeted four and signed all four. The key target for Houston was former Cincinnati RE Antwan Odom. Odom, 31, is a nine year veteran entering the twilight of his career but the team felt like he was a close match to Will Smith and will cost the team about $3 million less for this season. The former Bengal has recorded 4, 6, and 5 sacks respectively over the last 3 seasons and Houston expects similar production this year. Odom's one year deal means that the team will likely search for a replacement either in this year's draft or some time during the offseason next year.
The Texans allowed the contracts of both incumbent offensive guards to expire, so to replace either RG Robert Gallery or LG Kasey Studdard the team signed veteran LG Justin Smiley. Smiley still has very good athletic ability even at 31 and he showed that a season ago in Jacksonville by pancaking 73 defenders while only giving up one quarterback sack. Smiley, also signed to only a one year deal, doesn't appear to be in Houston's long-term plans but gives the Texans a much more reliable option than Derek Sherrod.
The only free agent Houston signed to a multi-year deal is FB Naufahu Tahi, who will replace 2011 GZL Ironman of the Year Justin Griffith in the Texans run heavy offense. The team believes that Tahi is a 100% upgrade over Griffith and he comes at a much more affordable price. Tahi logged 63 pancake blocks each in 2010 and 2011 before spending all of 2012 unemployed. Houston was reportedly interested in him last season but with Griffith's salary and the team's very tight cap situation it wasn't a possibility. If Tahi can pick up from where he left off in 2011 then Houston's run game shouldn't miss a beat. Griffith had nearly 100 pancakes in the Texan system in 2011 and appeared to be on the same pace in 2012 before a knee injury took him out for the season and possibly ended his career.
The final signing was one of need, punter Ben Graham joins the team after averaging 44.95 yards per punt over his last three seasons in Arizona. Graham was a backup plan after the team failed to sign Robert Malone away from San Diego and should provide a steady if not superlative presence in the kicking game. Graham, 40 years old, doesn't have the same leg strength that he once had and he'll be on watch during the preseason. If he doesn't have the capability to get the job done like he has in the past then he could be replaced before the season kicks off.
The Draft: ...Well At Least They Didn't Take A Kicker
The Texans entered draft day 2013 with 5 picks in the 1st 3 rounds and hoped to take advantage of a deep draft in order to select sleeper stars to help continue the team's success in to the future. As the first round shook out, Houston(picking 1.28) was very excited to see several players who were very high on their board still available when the Cowboys went on the clock at 1.23. The run then started on players the Texans were high on, OT DJ Fluker to Dallas, LE Nick Perry to New Orleans, LG Jonathan Cooper to Cincinnati, WR Keenan Allen to Green Bay and finally OLB Melvin Ingram to San Diego. Reportedly GM Paul Willis was especially frustrated by the Chargers' selection of Ingram, who the staff believed could be converted to LE as a replacement to Mario Williams who could step in right away with very little drop-off. But with Ingram off the board, Willis went back and forth between C Khaled Holmes, OLB Barkevious Mingo and WR Rueben Randle before finally deciding to go with Holmes. While center wasn't listed as a need for Houston heading in to the draft, USC's Holmes provides the Texans with an upgrade over Samson Satele at the position and was the best lineman available on Houston's board. Shortly after the selection, Houston began fielding offers on Satele and quickly struck a deal with Carolina for 3.29. Reportedly other teams would have been willing to go higher for Satele if Willis hadn't pulled the trigger so quickly. This came as a surprise to Willis, who signed Satele in the final round of offseason bidding a year ago without any competition.
When the Texans went on the clock again at 2.5 they were delighted to see LSU WR Rueben Randle still on the board and they made the pick. Randle reminds many in the organization of former 2nd round pick Leonard Hankerson(traded to St. Louis), although Randle isn't quite as quick in and out of his cuts but does possess better potential deep speed. With Andre Johnson on the downslope of his career it could be interesting to see what the Texans decide to do with him after acquiring Randle. Johnson, who has lost a step from last season, is still one of the league's best receivers but his contract still has 4 years left and will become a problem for the team by next season at the very latest. There has been some speculation that Houston will go with a youth movement at wide receiver and use their amnesty clause on Johnson this season, which would eat $10M of the $12M that Houston would potentially be penalized if they were to trade or release Johnson otherwise. It's unlikely that the team will make any kind of decision on Johnson anytime before the season starts but they're expected to see what they have with a Randle - Darvin Adams - Dexter McCluster trio in the preseason.
The Texans missed on OLB/DE Melvin Ingram at the end of the first round, and when OLB/DE Jonathan Massaquoi slid towards their pick at 2.28 they didn't want to see the same thing happen again. Houston agreed to send 2.28 and 3.30 to Cincinnati in return for 2.25 and selected Massaquoi immediately. Troy's Massaquoi will convert to LE in Houston where he is expected to compete with Jason Pierre-Paul for the starting job. JPP is an excellent edge rusher but the front office is worried that his lack of upper body strength will have a negative effect on the league's top rush defense. Neither player is Mario Williams, but Massaquoi looks like the closest thing currently on the roster to him and Pierre-Paul could be traded before the season even begins.
Even after trading up for Massaquoi the Texans still had three 3rd round picks and when Arkansas LG Alvin Bailey was still on the board at 3.4 the war room was ecstatic. Willis said he had Bailey going "somewhere in the early to mid 2nd round" on his board and he is expected to start from day one in Houston opposite Justin Smiley. Bailey has size at 315 pounds and is a surprisingly quick athlete with good technique for a rookie.
After the early third round, the Texans felt like there was a large drop off in talent in the prime positions and decided to use their last two picks of the round on starters at auxiliary positions. Cincinnati tight end Ryan Griffin and Wisconsin fullback Bradie Ewing were selected back to back at 3.28 and 3.29 respectively and both have a great chance to start in 2013. As high as the Texans are on new fullback Naufahu Tahi, Ewing presents a long term solution at fullback and the team sees him as a young version of Justin Griffith. Griffin has good athleticism and size at 6'5", but don't be surprised if the front office goes after a more established veteran during the last stage of free agency.
The Texans last three picks were made for depth purposes only but provide some intriguing players with 6'2" 375 pound DT Carson Oberst and FS Nigel McDaniel(72 AWR).
Post Draft UFA: It's A Secret
The Texans, after trading away Owen Daniels and failing to nab Clyde Alton in the draft, made a big splash by signing former Indianapolis Colt Dallas Clark. Clark, 34, is on the downward arc of his career but is still a solid last minute replacement for Daniels. Daniels has always been a key piece of the Texans offensive mechanism in both the passing and running game and the coaching staff feels Clark will fill his role without a hiccup. The Texans will actually pay Clark more than Daniels for this season despite the fact that Daniels was traded mainly in order to create more cap room.
The team also signed 30 year old halfback Patrick Cobbs to a one year deal. Cobbs is a bowling ball at 5'8" and 240 pounds and he will likely take Damien Berry's job as the primary speller for Arian Foster. Houston offered Cobbs a contract in 2011 but Kansas City promised more money. Cobbs languored in Kansas City, carrying only 23 times in 2011 and then only twice during all of 2012. The Texans think he can be much more productive in their run offense, Damien Berry was a 6th round pick and he's picked up nearly 1,000 yards rushing as Arian Foster's backup. Berry isn't a special back and Cobbs is certainly superior on paper, but the two will compete during the preseason for the #2 spot.
Finally the Texans signed 31 year old Richard Bartel to a one year deal that pays him $800K with no signing bonus. It is believed that Houston simply wanted another body in camp so that Matt Schaub could be kept off of the field during the preseason and he can be cut easily if the Texans need a little bit more petty cash for another signing later on.
Training Camp: Observations
LSU Rookie WR Rueben Randle and 2nd year Auburn man Darvin Adams have been working with speed coach James Jett and appear to be improving at both getting off the line as well as getting separation in the open field. Dexter McCluster still wins out when the three runs sprints, but Randle in particular is closing the gap each day.
Left ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Jonathan Massaquoi have been spotted in the cafeteria competing in what appear to be eating contests. Both players appear to have put on somewhere between 8 and 12 pounds since last season and Massaquoi looks even stronger at the point of attack and quicker off of the line than he did in college last year.
Strong safety Earnest McBride, perhaps spurred on by surprising rookie Nigel McDaniel, looks to be quicker to the ball this summer than he was during his Pro Bowl rookie campaign.
Training Camp Battles: Old Versus New and New Versus New
Wide Receiver -- Andre Johnson vs. Rueben Randle vs. Darvin Adams vs. Dexter McCluster
Andre Johnson has lost a step between this season and last, and the Texans are very high on rookie deep threat Randle and second year man Darvin Adams. As mentioned earlier, Adams was a wrecking ball last season when he finally came back from a preseason injury, putting up over 800 yards receiving in just 8 games of action. Randle was selected at 2.5 because the team believes he has star potential and they'll want to get him on-field experience as soon as possible as well. Dexter McCluster has been a fantastic slot man and often #2 WR over the last couple of seasons, but he was not restructured after not receiving a RFA bid this offseason so the writing may be on the wall. The team will look at Randle and Adams as the starters in the preseason to see how they look and Andre could potentially lose his job as a starter by week 1. There are some rumblings that Johnson could be amnestied this season, but Houston certainly would love to hang on to him for at least one more season if only to let him mentor their two up and comers.
Fullback -- Naufahu Tahi vs. Bradie Ewing
Houston was thrilled to get Tahi during the free agent period and were equally thrilled to find Ewing at the end of the 3rd round of the draft. Tahi is better than Ewing at this point in his career hands down, but the team will give Ewing a chance to prove he can produce during the preseason because they want him on the field. It's Ewing's job to lose so as long as he doesn't **** the bed in the preseason he'll be the starting fullback for years to come in Houston.
Left Defensive End -- Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Jonathan Massaquoi
The Texans were happy to go with JPP as Mario Williams' replacement at left end until OLB convert Jonathan Massaquoi slipped in to the late 2nd round. Massaquoi isn't quite as quick as Pierre-Paul but he does have a tremendous in strength despite being 18 pounds lighter. Houston has already reportedly begun dangling JPP in trade talks but it's said that GM Paul Willis won't make a move just for the sake of making a move. Right now it's a dead heat between the two and both are being given a look at linebacker as well. Whoever loses the competition for LE will likely be the primary backup at both outside linebacker spots and could even push for playing time at inside linebacker when the team employs 3-4 or 46 defenses.
Right Guard -- Alvin Bailey vs. Derek Sherrod
The team thought they had a steal when they grabbed Bailey at 3.5 but he has reportedly not been as impressive as expected so far in camp. Fortunately for Bailey, Sherrod has likewise struggled to settle in at the right guard spot. Bailey isn't the athlete the Texans thought they had, but the bottom line is that he's shown a better understanding of the Texans blocking scheme already and there's no reason to think he won't win this job.
2013 Houston Texans: ....If They Stay Healthy
The Texans, despite losing some key figures from their 14-2 2012 campaign are still confident that they can make another Super Bowl run in 2013. As always, the Texans' success depends on their health, particularly that of quarterback Matt Schaub. The coaching staff, and Matt himself, have worked hard with 2nd year man Terrence Bennett to get him ready to go in case Schaub fails to finish the season again. The team is expecting big things from a young receiving corps that still has Andre Johnson as well as another dynamite season from GZL all time leading rusher Arian Foster. The team should be capable of finishing in the top 3 offenses again, and the defense expects similar results. Losing Mario Williams and Will Smith was certainly a blow, but Antwan Odom and Jason Pierre-Paul/Jonathan Massaquoi are solid replacements. All the other starters from last year's 2nd ranked D will return this year and that young core will only continue to improve as they become more experienced.
The rest of the AFC South hasn't stayed stagnant, Jacksonville went under the plastic surgeon's knife early last season and have completely tranformed themselves since shutting it down last year in order to help their draft position. Last year's turnaround team of the year, Tennessee, will be back and better thanks to another stellar offseason with GM Tim Nissen at the helm. Indianapolis looks to be the little brother of the division for at least another season but could surprise a la the Titans. At the end of the day, my belief is that Houston won't quite repeat the same dominance of 2012 but will still claim the AFC South division crown for the second straight season by going 12-4 and then make a deep playoff run ending with a Super Bowl victory. That is, if they stay healthy.
(by P_Willis on 07/10/2012)
Replies - 4 :: Views - 85
BREAKING NEWS: Andre Johnson to sit season opener
Johnson Benched After Missing 3rd Team Meeting
Houston Texans All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson will not start Sunday's season opener against New England. After missing OTA's and basically sitting out the preseason Johnson appears to have lost focus on the upcoming season. After Johnson missed a team meeting that head coach Dennis Green said was the third he's been absent for in this young season, the staff had to do something. Johnson will suit up for the Texans but will likely only be used as an emergency WR. The timing of these antics and the subsequent discipline couldn't be worse for a Texans team that is expected to do big things this season. Dennis Green said only that he "is disappointed that one of our team leaders is behaving like this" and that he hopes Johnson "gets his head straight by Tuesday."
(by P_Willis on 01/09/2012)
Replies - 6 :: Views - 56
Houston Texans Training Camp
2012 Houston Texans: Now or Never
After finishing 4-12 in 2010 and not even reaping the rewards of a high first round pick, the Houston Texans and GM Paul Willis knew their work was cut out for them. After an aggressive offseason, the Texans shot out of the gate to a 4-1 record, matching their 2010 win total. Then the bottom fell out. After a demoralizing loss against defending AFC South champ Jacksonville, the Texans lost Matt Schaub(seen left) to injury during another blowout loss at Cincinnati. Chris Simms led the team to two more blowout defeats against the Packers and Ravens before Neil Rackers' missed field goals cost the team a victory over the Bears.
Matt Schaub returned in week 13 and the Texans turnaround began. After blowing out Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Tennessee the team was still alive for the division crown. Houston needed to win at Cleveland and Jacksonville to lose at Green Bay to force a week 17 showdown with the Jaguars that would decide the division. The Texans celebrated as the Packers pulled out a win, but disaster would strike again. The Texans defense could not contain the big play, giving up a 97 yard Peyton Hillis touchdown run as well as a 72 yard Ben Watson touchdown reception. A furious fourth quarter comeback evened the score at 43 with a minute left to play, but the Texans defense continued its struggles and the Browns kicked a game winning field goal as time expired. Once again Neil Rackers was the heel of the game, his two missed field goals could've provided the points that changed the game.
Despite knowing their season was over, the Texans went in to Jacksonville and made a statement they hope carries over in to 2012 by beating the Jags 37-19 to finish 9-7. While the season was considered a disappointment, there were positives to take away.
4 Texans were named to the Pro Bowl, WR Andre Johnson, LE Mario Williams, LG Kasey Studdard and HB Arian Foster(seen right) all celebrated their seasons in Hawaii. In addition to his Pro-Bowl selection, Arian Foster was also voted the GZL Offensive Play of the Year after a record setting season(2144 yards). Not to be forgotten was Foster's lead blocker, FB Justin Griffith, who was named the GZL's Ironman of the Year. The Texans will expect similar production from its backfield in 2012 as the Texans chase the division crown that has eluded them since their inception in 2002.
Free Agency: All's Quiet
The Texans entered the offseason with only a handful of players from 2011 set to enter free agency. The Texans tendered cornerbacks Glover Quin and Brice McCain as well as defensive tackle Roy Miller. None received bids and of the three only Roy Miller has been signed to an extension(3 years). As the unrestricted period of free agency approached the only major decision the Texans had was whether to re-sign corner DeAngelo Hall(seen right) or tag and trade the oft-injured speedster. Several offers came in but none came close to the value that Paul Willis was looking for and the team agreed to a 3 year, $23 million deal with Hall. Hall's contract meant that the Houston payroll would become a challenge and several role players were cut or allowed to enter free agency.
The team itself had a very quiet run at free agents, during the match-eligible period the Texans claimed none of their own expired contracts and only went after two players. The first was kicker Neil Rackers, who the team had decided was done in Houston before they realized they couldn't afford a bidding war with any of the teams with superior, match-eligible kickers. The other was RG Marshall Yanda, an athletic young veteran who is a better fit for Houston's zone-blocking scheme than current RG Robert Gallery and was also considered at center with the departure of Chris Myers and Wade Smith. Fortunately for Gallery, Yanda received a more lucrative offer to join the Titans and decided against Houston.
After missing on Yanda, Willis focused his attention on former Raider center Samson Satele(seen left) to fill the hole in the interior o-line. Satele, while not as disciplined, is a very similar player to Yanda and the Texans were able to get him at nearly half the price they offered to the Titan.
The Draft: Kickin' It
The Texans entered the draft without their second round pick after trading it, along with New England's 2nd, to Seattle for DT Dan Williams and 3.3. With 21 of 22 starters set to return but tons of depth positions to fill, the Texans traded down with Green Bay from 1.20 for 2.5 and 2.25. Then, in a surprise move, they traded away up and coming WR Leonard Hankerson and 3.3 to St. Louis for 1.19. The team envisioned a long-term solution at RG or an impact player at another position to fall to them at the spot but ended up going in a completely unexpected direction.
Rather than selecting OG Quentin Raney, WR Jonathan Baldwin or S Earnest McBride as the team had planned, the pick was Washington State kicker Reid Forrest(seen left). Forrest was clearly the best kicker in the class but is a head scratcher with so many talented players that the Texans scouted still on the board. The decision was made because of Neil Rackers' costly failures during 2011, but the team probably should have shopped the pick more aggressively to move back again since Forrest would likely have been available late in the 1st. It is what it is though, and the former Cougar will take over field goal duties immediately for a team that felt they were just a few missed kicks away from a potential Super Bowl run a year ago.
The team was thrilled when one of the players they had targeted at 1.19 was still around when they went on the clock at 2.5. Air Force FS Earnest McBride(seen right) was given permission to forgo his contract with the USAF in order to play in the GZL and the Texans couldn't be happier. The 6'2", 191 pound McBride has the physical tools of an elite outside linebacker, but will man the deep middle in Houston. FS Phillip Ross was selected at 2.15 in last year's draft and either he or McBride is expected to make the shift to strong safety.
The Texans weren't done in the second, and with 2.25 they selected Auburn wide receiver Darvin Adams. Adams, 6'2" and 190 pounds, isn't the gamebreaker that Leonard Hankerson was, but with Dexter McCluster on the roster he can start his career in the slot and slide to the #2 slot when favorable height match-ups arise.
While the later portion of the draft was intended to fill required empty roster slots, when the team saw Harvard QB Terence Bennett available at 4.20 they couldn't resist. Bennett isn't GZL ready, but compares very well to Andy Dalton(2.1, Clevleland) and could be Matt Schaub's heir. At worst, he is a very solid back-up, a position the Texans have need of with Schaub's injury history.
The rest of the draft did go to adding depth, Jacksonville State CB Sean Brooks, Southern Utah OG Ronald Hernandez and Miami C Douglas Martin will all make the team. While none are looked at as potential starters any time soon, all 3 have the potential to stick with the team past their rookie contracts.
(by P_Willis on 12/17/2011)
Replies - 2 :: Views - 54
Resurgent Texans Still Holding Out Playoff Hopes
Texans Could Still Win Division, Wild Card
After finding a brand new way to blow a certain victory in week 11 at Chicago, the Houston Texans dropped their 5th straight game and sat at 4-6. Looking up at 7-2-1 Jacksonville, it appeared as though the season was essentially over in Houston. Injuries derailed a 4-1 start; DeAngelo Hall was lost late in the 2nd game and Matt Schaub went down during a week 7 loss in Cincinnati. Backup Chris Simms proved why he is "backup Chris Simms" by leading the Texans to 3 straight losses before the team eeked out a 13-10 victory in week 12 against Buffalo that brought the team to 5-6.
With then 10-1 Pittsburgh on the way to Reliant Stadium the Texans knew that they couldn't afford another loss if they were to have any chance of a playoff run. Despite being listed as questionable leading up to kickoff, Matt Schaub took the field and played his best game of the season as the Texans sent the Steelers home 35-18 losers. Schaub was 20 of 34 for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns against Pittsburgh.
Before his injury, Schaub seemed to have forgotten what buttered his bread. All-World WR Andre Johnson averaged only 2.3 catches for 35.4 yards a game and caught only one touchdown pass in the 7 games before Schaub went down. In the three game since Schaub's return, Johnson has caught 7 passes(2 for touchdown) in each game and is averaging 121 yards. The renewed passing connection played a huge role in lopsided victories over Indianapolis and Tennessee that have brought Houston to 8-6 as of today. The Texans can still make the playoffs, but only if they finish the season 10-6 and get some outside help.
While Houston has rolled to 4 straight wins, division leading Jacksonville has gone 2-2 over the last month, dropping them to 9-4-1 and in danger of losing their stranglehold on the South. Up next for the Jaguars is a trip to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, where they will meet a Packers team that has won 8 straight. If Jacksonville is unable to leave Wisconsin with a win then the door is open for Houston. Assuming they beat the Browns this week, a Jacksonville loss would set up a winner-take-all week 17 showdown in Jacksonville.
If Jacksonville does beat Green Bay they will clinch the AFC South but not immediately shut the door on Houston's playoff hopes. A very far fetched scenario could play out that would see Houston in the playoffs as a wild card IF:
*Houston beats Cleveland AND Jacksonville
**Jacksonville beats Green Bay
***Pittsburgh loses their last 2 games(Baltimore and Tennessee)
Will Pittsburgh lose to Tennessee to complete a five game skid that could potentially eliminate them from the playoffs? Probably not, so GO PACKERS!
(by P_Willis on 10/12/2011)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 25
Houston Escapes Arrowhead With Win
Chiefs Have No Luck Against Texans
Saturday July 16th, 2011
Brodie Croyle struggled in relief of Andrew Luck
The Texans are 2-1 after a 20-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs(2-1) on Sunday. The game could have been a much different story if Andrew Luck hadn't left the game on KC's first offensive possession. After leading the Chiefs down inside the red zone, Luck was dropped and Brodie Croyle was inserted. Croyle killed the drive with an incompletion followed by two straight sacks. Croyle would go on to have a pedestrian day with 14 of 26 passing for 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Croyle was also guilty of throwing a backwards screen pass to Jamaal Charles that bounced off of his halfback's backside and was scooped up by the Texans. The play led directly to a Houston field goal that was their only score in the first half.
Jamaal Charles was shut down by the Houston defense as well, only gaining 60 yards on 16 carries for the game(3.75 YPC). Despite the defense's successes, the offense was a no show for the first 3 quarters. Trailing 10-3 in the final period they awakened. A 39 yard strike from Matt Schaub to Laurent Robinson evened the score early in the quarter, and then Arian Foster got going.
Owen Daniels celebrates with Arian Foster after Foster's 4th quarter TD
On what would become the game winning drive, Foster carved through a Kansas City defense that had shut him down throughout the first half. Finally, with just over 5 minutes left in the game, the Texans scored on Arian Foster's 9 yard TD run to take a 17-10 lead. Kansas City went three and out on the following possession and Houston pounded out the clock the rest of the way. Some confusion regarding clock management led to a Neil Rackers field goal with about :40 left, but the Houston defense was up to the task of protecting a 20-10 lead.
One of the unsung heroes this season for the Texans has been TE Owen Daniels. Daniels, who hauled in 50 catches for 593 yards and 6 TDs a year ago, has only 5 catches for 55 yards in 2011. His disappearance from the passing game may be a result of his focus on run blocking. Daniels has 27 pancake blocks after 3 games in 2011, compared to 42 for the entire 2010 season. He's currently 3rd in the GZL in pancakes and leads tight ends by 11(Dallas Clark has 16). Daniels will likely pick up his receiving stats by the end of the season, but if he can keep leading the way for the league's leading rusher coaches won't care what his final catch count comes to.
Up next for the Texans is a visit to Tennessee where they'll face a Titans squad who are healthy and rested after an early bye week. It is a key game for Houston, who trail division leading Indianapolis(3-0) and can't afford another division loss. Dennis Green summed up the Titans:
"They're a similar type of match-up as Kansas City. They have big fast receivers, a speedy back and a quarterback who can play. We can't count on Vince Young going down like Luck did, so we'll just have to step it up another notch this week."
(by P_Willis on 07/23/2011)
Replies - 2 :: Views - 40
Texans Trounce Vikings
Texans Win Home Opener, Lose DeAngelo Hall
Saturday July 16th, 2011
Arian Foster rushed for 341 yards and 3 TDs in Houston's 35-10 win.
In week 1 of the inaugural GZL season San Francisco's Frank Gore rushed for 398 yards and set a single game record that seems unlikely to be broken anytime soon. In Houston's home opener against Minnesota Arian Foster came as close as anyone has come to matching that mark by carrying 26 times for 341 yards and 3 TDs. Foster's big day puts his 2 game total at 513 yards, 224 yards ahead of the GZL's next leading rusher(Jamaal Charles). Although he rattled off highlight after highlight, Foster's biggest play was a 92 yard scamper that put the Texans ahead 21-0 late in the 1st quarter.
The rest of the game was more of the same, after taking a 28-0 lead Houston essentially shut down their passing game and protected their big lead throughout the afternoon. Matt Schaub finished the game with only 87 yards on 7 of 12 passing with a TD and INT. Schaub started the day completing those 7 straight passes, but he was 0-5 after the Texans took control of the game and looked to run first.
The defense was solid, holding Vikings QB Kellen Clemens to 150 yards on 13 of 33 passes. The team also intercepted Clemens a staggering 5 times, including 2 by DeAngelo Hall, who was coming off a career low performance against Indianapolis last week. Unfortunately the Texans will be without Hall's services for at least 2 months after he went down with a dislocated elbow in the 4th quarter.
Adrian Peterson was able to get to the 100 yard rushing mark despite a Minnesota offense that was forced to play catch up, often taking the Houston D by surprise when called on. Minnesota's lone touchdown was not of the offensive variety, rather a muffed punt by Ben Tate that was returned for a score.
Up next for Houston is a visit to Kansas City, who sit in 1st place in the AFC West at 2-0 behind a very stout defense and a dynamic offense led by #1 overall pick Andrew Luck and deadly quick HB Jamaal Charles. The Texans will have to slow down Charles without ceding too much ground to the rookie QB to be successful against the Chiefs. Coach Dennis Green had this to say about Kansas City's squad:
"We abslolutely have to slow down their offense. I told Cush and Mario they need to step it up this week, we can't afford any missed tackles or assignments this week with Charles running around out there. Their defense is tough too..the toughest by far we've faced this season. We're #1 in offense right now but they can stop us if we don't stay focused."
Benjarvus Green-Ellis BACK in New England after surprise trade.
The Texans #1 ranked offense will have to go the rest of the way without HB Benjarvus Green-Ellis, who was traded to New England following the Vikings game. The Patriots were desperate to find a HB after Michael Turner(who was involved in the trade that sent BJGE to Atlanta) went down with a torn shoulder. The deal includes the Law Firm as well as Houston's 6th and 7th round picks in return for New England's 2nd rounder. It also comes as something of a surprise, since Houston traded THEIR 3rd rounder for Green-Ellis midway through the preseason. GM Paul Willis said it was a tough decision but he felt that the team could make a positive future return on what had already been considered a one year lease(Green-Ellis's contract is up after this season). "I look at it like this: we traded a 3, a 6 and a 7 for a 2. If we finish this season the way I think we will, we gave up a 6 and a 7 to move up close to or more than one full round early in the draft."
The Law Firm backed up Foster during the first 2 games this season, carrying 18 times for 112 yards and 3 TDs. "That's where we're gonna miss him most," Green said, "When we're down in the goal line and Foster needs a sub..that's where we'll miss him most."
(by P_Willis on 07/16/2011)
Replies - 3 :: Views - 29
Texans Find A Way To Lose
Texans Lose Heartbreaker At Indy
Sunday July 10th, 2011
Pierre Garcon amassed 207 yards against DeAngelo Hall despite dropping 3 passes.
Week 1 of the 2011 GZL season is in the books and once again the Texans are sitting at the bottom of the AFC South. Sunday's loss to Indianapolis may be one that the Texans find hard to forget. Houston led throughout the contest and looked the better team until the fourth quarter.
With Peyton Manning knocked out of the game, rookie Jake Locker was inserted in to the lineup to take over for a Colts team that trailed 27-20 with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Locker quickly put the ball in the end zone with a strike to Austin Collie that tied the game. Locker would go on to throw an interception in the end zone after the Texans took back the lead, but his big moment came when Indy received the ball with 40 seconds left at their own 12.
Even trailing 34-27 with 88 yards and a very flawed rookie quarterback standing between them and overtime, the Colts were not phased. DeAngelo Hall was called for pass interference on the first play of the drive, which put the ball to the Indy 43. A few plays later Locker had brought the Colts to the Houston 35 with 7 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Locker found fellow rookie Mark Ingram streaking down the left sideline and delivered a perfect pass that Ingram pulled down in stride. When DeAngelo Hall whiffed on his tackle attempt for the umpteenth time of the afternoon, Ingram coasted the rest of the way to the end zone. One second remained on the clock as Indianapolis tied the score.
In overtime Houston received the ball first but their drive stalled near midfield. Indy's possession was a continuation of the fourth quarter as Locker led the team down the field easily in to Adam Vinatieri's range. Just like that, the game was over.
The loss is a definite setback for Houston but it also gives some evidence that what GM Paul Willis has been saying throughout the offseason may be true. "The Texans can win this division."
Foster ran for 172 and Houston totaled 265 on the ground.
Aside from DeAngelo Hall's terrible day(10 CTHA, 3 DFL) the Texans were the better team on the field in Indy. They led 20-6 at halftime and 27-13 nearly midway through the 3rd quarter. The return of Matt Schaub and the additions of Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Leonard Hankerson appear to have made a huge impact for an offense that struggled during 2010.
Green-Ellis, who was acquired from Atlanta for a 3rd round pick, was brought in because Willis didn't feel comfortable with Ben Tate or rooke Damien Berry spelling Arian Foster. "The Law Firm" ran only 7 times but gained 79 yards, including a very impressive 53 yard TD.
Schaub also looked sharp, completing 16 of 27 passes for 283 yards and 2 TDs. The numbers look even better when you consider the fact that Andre Johnson left the game in the 2nd quarter and didn't return. Picking up in his absence was rookie Leonard Hankerson, who finished the day with 7 catches for 127 yards and a TD. Hankerson only narrowly won his starting WR spot over Laurent Robinson because he had a startling number of drops during the preseason but he dropped only one against the Colts.
Despite the offense's successes the defense struggled mightily and DC Ted Cottrell addressed the situation. "We aren't going to be running that defense next week against Minnesota, that much is certain. We focused too much on Mark Ingram and too little on Peyton Manning, believe it or not. We're definitely not going to forget about Adrian Peterson this week, but we're not going to make it easy for Clemens like we did for Locker."
The Vikings will come to Reliant Stadium nursing the wounds of a 38-10 loss at New Orleans. Minnesota will be without starting QB Jimmy Clausen, CBs Derek Cox and Chris Cook and starting TE Visanthe Shiancoe. The Texans once again enter the week with no injuries.
(by P_Willis on 07/10/2011)
Replies - 7 :: Views - 82
Texans Offseason and Training Camp Report
Texans Optimistic About 2011
Thursday, June 16 2011
Texans are hoping big money signing Smith can make immediate impact.
After finishing the 2010 GZL season at 4-12 and without a first round pick to show for it, the stock of the Houston Texans franchise hit a low not seen since the expansion years. Truth be told, the franchise has never truly escaped the "expansion era." The team has never earned a playoff berth and has been to the podium at Radio City Music Hall early in the draft far too often. A strong offseason was crucial to the success of the team not just for the 2011 season, but also moving forward.
When the trade season opened, the Texans were quick to ship fan favorite DeMeco Ryans to Green Bay in return for OLB Brad Jones and 2.15. WR Bernard Berrian was sent to division rival Jacksonville in return for athletic OLB Slade Norris and 3.32. While these moves were somewhat surprising given GM Paul Willis' tendency to stay out of the trade market, the real key to the offseason would come next in free agency.
The Texans needed to make a splash in the free agent pool to make up for a dearth of draft picks. By the time the free agency period began the Texans had amassed over $32 million in cap room after releasing 9 players from the roster. They were aggressive when the bell rang, signing former Saints DE Will Smith, Raiders OG Robert Gallery and Falcons CB DeAngelo Smith to big money deals. The team also sent a lucrative offer to Falcons DT Jason Babineaux, but Atlanta matched the offer to retain his services.
Houston still needed to replace Bernard Berrian and before the draft they made a deal with St. Louis to acquire Laurent Robinson for a 3rd and 4th round pick. The deal would allow the team to focus on the best player available regardless of position when they went on the clock at 2.3.
Hankerson will battle Laurent Robinson for starting spot
Despite the Robinson deal, when the Texans pick came up the top player available on their board was Miami(FL) WR Leonard Hankerson. The 6'2" Hankerson should compliment Robinson and Andre Johnson well and possesses the skills to be a #1 target on an offense if Andre Johnson regresses or moves to another team at some point. Hankerson spent the summer working out with Johnson in Miami attempting to improve his speed and acceleration.
The next pick was at 2.15, where the Texans took UMass FS Phillip Ross. Reportedly the Texans had targeted FS's Gerald Powell and Dana Garcia and were disappointed when neither fell to 2.3. Ross wasn't the first or even second choice, but Willis was quick to turn his name in when the Texans went on the clock. "He was the fourth ranked guy on our board at the beginning of the round so we were very pleased to get him in the middle of the round." Ross has good size(6'1") and has the speed and strength to start for years. To become a complete product he'll need work on his tackling and ball catching ability but he should start immediately.
The rest of the draft was just a case of selecting longshot prospects as the final three picks were in the 6th round and later. Miami(FL) HB Damien Berry(6.21) has a great chance to make the roster and even push current #2 back Ben Tate down the depth chart. OT Ralph Gonzales(7.3) and DT Jarvis Jenkins(6.3) should also make the roster but will likely be spot fillers at best.
When the team arrived at training camp a few things jumped out:
--Arian Foster looks BIG. He hovered around 220 last season but looks like he's added another 8-10 pounds without losing any explosiveness.
--Matt Schaub, who missed the second half of the 2010 season with an injured shoulder, looks like he's back to 100%. He told us his offseason surgery was a tremendous success and he's never felt better.
--LT Duane Brown worked with the first team at right tackle and looks much sturdier than he did a season ago. Coach Dennis Green asked Brown to bulk up for this season and he seems to have obliged. RT Eric Winston and RG Robert Gallery split time at left tackle in his place.
The Winston/Gallery battle isn't the only intriguing positional competition taking place. Several other positions are up for grabs before the season commences.
--#2 HB - Damien Berry/Ben Tate
Ben Tate's rookie season was a mixed bag. While he made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, he also struggled to hold his own spelling Arian Foster(3.41 YPC). So far these two have looked like mirror images of each other and unless Berry steps it up before camp ends Tate will likely retain his job. Don't be surprised if Houston signs a vet before the season.
--FB - Justin Griffith/Vonta Leach
Incumbent Leach may have already seen the writing on the wall. Despite receiving a new three year deal Leach has worked mostly with the second team while former Falcon Griffith has been with the ones. Griffith is much quicker where Leach is slightly stronger.
--#2 WR - Laurent Robinson/Leonard Hankerson
Hankerson was the Texans' first pick in the draft and Willis told us he was "shocked" he was still on the board when the Texans made their pick. Robinson looks quicker off the LOS but Hankerson is clearly his better as a run blocker. As camp has gone on Hankerson seems to have pulled ahead as his speed and route running have improved steadily.
--DT - Amobi Okoye/Shaun Cody/Antonio Smith
Roy Miller appears to be entrenched at NT. DC Ted Cottrell has promised to show multiple defenses this season and we've already seen the team working in both a 3-4 and 4-3 front. Will Smith has shown the ability to man the RE spot in either defense and Mario Williams is an obvious lock at LE. The depth at DT is a continuing concern for Willis, as Okoye is athletic but not very strong and Cody isn't athletic...and also isn't very strong. Antonio Smith is really not suited to play DT but has been given a shot. I'd be stunned if the Texans don't make cuts and add at least one veteran before the season begins.
--ROLB - Brad Jones/Stanford Keglar/Brandon Spikes
With Brian Cushing working with the first team at inside linebacker and newcomer Slade Norris getting the majority of the reps at outside linebacker the only remaining battle in the LB corps is here. Spikes locks down the second ILB spot when the team has gone to the 3-4, but may not have the speed the team seems to be looking for on the outside. Jones and Keglar can be hard to tell apart. They are so similar that it really could come down to a coin flip. Both are fast but can have trouble getting off their blocks. If anything, Keglar has looked more comfortable in 3-4 sets while Jones may have the edge in 4-3 situations.
Regardless of who plays where in 2011 the team should be better assuming that key players like Schaub, Foster, Johnson, Cushing and Hall stay healthy. If they can answer the questions that remain at DT and S the team could be poised to make a run at the AFC South crown.
(by P_Willis on 06/16/2011)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 36
Houston introduces Denny Green/DeAngelo Hall trade rejected
Dennis Green Meets the Houston Press
Saturday, June 4th 2011
Coach Green hopes Texans are who he thinks they are.
Dennis Green took time off from familiarizing himself with the facilities and staff of the Houston Texans on Friday afternoon to be officially introduced to the Houston media as the new head coach. The 62 year old Green kept it brief and calm to the relief(or disappointment for some) of the gathered journalists, expressing that he's thrilled to be back in the big leagues and he's excited about his new team. Green singled out Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub specifically by declaring that they may be "the best quarterback-receiver combo I'll have ever coached." This is high praise from a man who coached Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon during his time in Minnesota.
While the Vikings were at their best under Green after Moss arrived to compliment Carter, the Texans recently traded their #2 WR and deep threat Bernard Berrian to Jacksonville with no apparent replacement.
"We've been looking at receivers and we plan on adding a few whether that's through the draft or free agency. Whoever ends up out there is going to benefit from Andre's presence, he's a monster", said Green when asked about the lack of a #2 option at receiver.
Green's time was short but sweet, as he deferred to GM Paul Willis and new defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell when asked about CB DeAngelo Hall.
Pro-bowl corner and picks for 1.23? League says no.
Last week an agreement was made between Willis and Philadelphia's Eric Eggleston to send Hall, along with Houston's 4th and 6th round picks to the Eagles for the Eagles 1st round pick(1.23). After a few days the GZL's trade committee let both parties know that the deal had been rejected because it was considered damaging to the Texans franchise.
"I'm a little embarrassed by it," GM Paul Willis conceded, "It seemed like a good deal from our standpoint, but I can definitely understand where the trade committee was coming from. I talked to DeAngelo before we made the deal and I've talked to him since it was rejected and we're on good terms. I told him we're still taking offers but we're not just trying to get rid of him. De's a professional, if he's a Texan in 2011 we expect big things from him."
If Hall does remain in Houston this season he'll play in new defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell's hybrid 4-3 defense. Cottrell promised to "mix things up more than last year", when the Texans ran a base 3-4 defense every week but the season opener. Cottrell certainly has the credentials to run practically any scheme. He ran a 3-4 as d-coordinator of the Bills in the late 90's and a 4-3 working under Herm Edwards for the New York Jets.
(by P_Willis on 06/04/2011)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 19
Changes Abound in Houston
Willis Finally Makes His Move
Monday, May 30 2011
Houston is likely to run a 4-3 under new coach Dennis Green, Cushing to move inside between newcomers Norris and Jones?
When Paul Willis arrived in Houston with 5 games to go in the GZL season the Texans sat at 3-8 and were licking their wounds after a 55-16 loss at home against the Titans. Willis declined to make any moves before the trade deadline, opting rather to take the rest of the season to evaluate his roster. The Texans limped to a 1-4 finish, the only victory was in the final week against a Jacksonville team that had already clinched the division. On the bright side, a Dan Orlovsky led team that had struggled to keep games close throughout the season managed to keep every loss within 6 points during Willis's stretch as GM.
With the trade season opening back up roughly a week ago it appeared that Willis would continue to play it safe and make do with the current roster until this past weekend. In a flurry that began Saturday afternoon the Texans sent WR Bernard Berrian, MLB DeMeco Ryans and CB DeAngelo Hall to Jacksonville, Green Bay and Philadelphia respectively(all trades still pending league approval).
Berrian, who was acquired from the Vikings last year for Matt Leinart, amassed 1047 yards on 75 catches for Houston in 2010 playing opposite Andre Johnson. The return on the 30 year old Berrian came in the form of OLB Slade Norris(82SPD, 76STR) and the Saints 3rd round pick, which will be late in the round. Norris had a quiet season as a backup in Jacksonville in 2010 but is expected to start in place of Brian Cushing, who will almost certainly be moved to the middle after the jettison of DeMeco Ryans.
Ryans was a do everything player(85 TKLS, 21 TFL, 4 INT) in 2010 but was considered expendable because of Cushing's presence on the squad. In return for his services the Texans acquired OLB Brad Jones(82SPD, 67 STR) and 2.15 from Green Bay. Sources close to the team told us that the team was close to getting a deal done that would've sent Ryans along with draft picks to Tampa Bay for OLB Geno Hayes, but Willis coveted 2.15 and thought Jones was close enough to Hayes in talent. Jones will challenge Norris and incumbent starting ROLB Stanford Keglar for a starting role in 2011.
Perhaps the most interesting move Willis made over the weekend was the trade of CB DeAngelo Hall to Philadelphia. Hall cost former GM Josh Chapman a 1st round pick that ended up being 3rd overall, CB Antwaun Molden(72 TKLS, 2 INTS in 2010) and HB Steve Slaton(740 YDS, 4.16 YPC). It cost Willis Hall, as well as 4th and 6th round picks, to acquire 1.23 and a throw-in 7th rounder. Despite what seems like a one-sided deal, particularly when factoring in what was originally sacrificed to acquire Hall's services, Willis seems pleased with the move.
"I felt like we needed to start fresh, DeAngelo is a great player who we gave up a lot to get, but jumping back in the 1st round was important to us, especially considering the strength of this draft class. De will be a great fit in Philly and we feel like the money we'll save(5.34M off 2011 cap) will help us find talent that fits our team better."
The Texans now enter the free agency period and draft with a great deal more money to spend and 4 draft picks in the first 3 rounds. Willis will work closely with a brand new head coach, former Minnesota and Arizona boss Dennis Green, to put together a roster that can compete in what should be a wide-open AFC South in 2011.
(by P_Willis on 05/30/2011)
Replies - 1 :: Views - 43
Houston Welcomes Willis To GZL
Texans Announce New GM
March 29, 2011 - Houston, TX
Texans owner Bob McNair officially introduced new general manager Paul Willis to the Houston press on Monday. Willis was upbeat despite inheriting a club that has been derailed by injuries and managerial neglect. Below is a partial transcript of the Q&A portion of the presser.
Q: "What experience do you bring to the Texans?"
A: "Honestly not much. I've been in a few leagues for brief stints, but I've never had an oppurtunity to participate in an extremely competitive league for an extended period. I believe I've learned a lot from my experiences though..I've made my share of mistakes and I've learned from them."
Q: "How do you plan to turn the team around?"
A: "Well obviously this season has been a disappointment. Mr. Chapman actually made some good moves while he was here in my opinion. Losing DeAngelo [Hall] in the first game was a huge blow, especially considering what was given up to get him. Getting him back will definitely be a boost. There's a lot of talent here already on both sides of the ball. If we don't lose De and Matt [Schaub] this year, I think we'd be right in the hunt for the division. I consider myself to be a pretty conservative guy, so you're not going to see me tear down the walls. I like to work with what I've got for the most part."
Q: "You mentioned DeAngelo Hall. Do you think the price was right for him?"
A: "It probably wouldn't have been a deal I would have done, but I'm glad he's on my team. If he can manage to stay healthy, that's one of the premier positions in the game that I don't have to worry about for a good three or four years. That said, it'd be nice to have that high first pick back..and Slaton's done pretty well in Washington too."
Q: "You seem pretty comfortable with the team you've got. Are there any potential moves before the trade deadline?"
A: "Well anything is possible, but I'm not going to make a move just to make a move. A lot of people are of the opinion that this is a rebuilding project here in Houston and I don't agree. Obviously there's some work to be done, particularly on the lines, but I don't necessarily think that trading is the only way to get that taken care of. We're carrying almost $26 million in to next season without much of a penalty and we only have a couple guys with expiring contracts that we consider a priority."
Q: "Why do you think the season has gone so poorly?"
A: "Well obviously 3-8 is 3-8 and there are no excuses. We play in a tough division and we've been hit with some tough injuries so depth has been an issue. I think the bottom line is that we need better play up front on both sides of the ball. Mario [Williams] has been a standout and the o-line has done pretty well protecting the passer but other than that there aren't many bright spots. The run blocking has been abysmal and the rest of the defensive line hasn't stepped up the same way Mario has."
Q: "Do you think the scheme has been part of the problem?"
A: "It's possible. I'd have thought coming in to the season with the weapons this team has you'd see Schaub throwing the ball all over the place. The previous regime went for more of a power running thing. Unfortunately with Matt out for the rest of the season I think that's now the only option until next year."
Q: "What about the defense?"
A: "Again, it's possible. Switching to the 3-4 after week one may have been a panic move, but I tend to prefer that scheme in general. There are some tweaks here and there that I could see improving the product on the field. Shaun Cody is too talented to not get him some downs for instance. I wouldn't rule out a move back to the 4-3 but that's something the coaches and I will be discussing as the season progresses."
(by P_Willis on 03/30/2011)
Replies - 4 :: Views - 55
Texans 1Q Report
Houston, Texas - So many questions and just simply no answers, Our offense is anemic and our defense is nowhere to be found. We figured we could at-least hang with teams scoring wise. We lost the star corner we traded for in the first game of the season. Things in Houston only have one way to go though and thats up cause we're already in the basement.
You can only tweak your gameplan so much, after that its up to your players to go out and execute it. We've switched to the 3-4 and are still for the defense to gel. Eh, we'll figure it out.
A major cause for most of this horrible start falls squarely on the shoulders of Quarterback Matt Schaub who has played about as pedestrian as you possibly can. 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and hes not even hitting his receivers half the time with a measly 48% completion rating. With receivers like Bernard Berrian, Andre Johnson, and Owen Daniels to throw to this is simply baffling. We understand we don’t have the best offensive line in the world but my God they atleast give you time to get the ball out of your hands on most plays. Arian Foster is even worse how the hell do you average 2.97ypc I mean even backups are doing better than that. The only thing I can figure is we’re playing from behind so much due to our lack of defensive effort we don’t have time to get a running rhythm going.
Brian Cushing has let down our plans. We figured by putting him and Mario Williams on the same side it would create intense pressure instead Brian has a measly 6 tackls and 0 sacks through 3 games. We like our front 7 and don’t want to change it, but if it doesn’t start working that’ll happen real fast.
Coaching simply has to be better. Kubiak wont be back next season if the team doesn’t respond. We didn’t come into this year with high expectations to have our management let us down. Bottom line, heads will roll if things don’t improve and improve quickly.
(by J_Chapman on 01/31/2011)
Replies - 1 :: Views - 34
Texans Defense Gets Anchored
LB DeMeco Ryans, LB Brian Cushing, DE Mario Williams
Houston, Texas - With the offensive explosiveness the Texans have, the main focus in the early stages of team development has been on assembling the right formula of defensive talent. Known for running a 3-4 defensive scheme we will instead switch it up to match the defensive personnel we have and go with a 4-3...With that being said, Mario Williams will look to move to the LE spot and be supported by Brian "The Beast" Cushing. Having 2 of our youngest and best pass rushers on the left side will create alot of pressure which in turn we think will lead to alot of turnovers. DeMeco Ryans the defensive captain of the squad has agreed to give up his starting MLB spot to instead move to ROLB and make way for another young defender to sure further sure up the front 7....The secondary is another main concern for us, outside of Kareem Jackson no one is guaranteed a starting job and rumors have it that the Texans have struck a deal to bring in one of the better corners in the league to help cover the other teams best receiver....With training camp coming up we're excited to see how all these changes will affect the team and how quickly we can gel.
(by J_Chapman on 12/23/2010)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 26
Houston Texans Hire GM Josh Chapman.
|Houston, Texas - Today we introduce the new General Manager of the Houston Texans today Joshua Chapman.....Mr Chapman is excited to work with the likes of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and Mario Williams which form a great base to build upon and cause some noise in the AFC South.
Mr Chapman is also encouraged that Brian Cushings run-ins with PED's has been taken care of
Although you wouldn't be able to tell it from this photo.
When asked about to guess the amount of wins the Texans could accomplish this year Chapman said, " The 8-10 wins mark is definitely within reach if the schedule is favorable."
We look forward to a hell of a year with what we have but we are always open for trade discussions that help improve our squad.
(by J_Chapman on 12/12/2010)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 33
At A Glance