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Friday August 29, 2008 12:08 pm

NFL Preview: Houston Texans

Posted by Dean Browski Categories: NFL,

Can Mario Williams help the Houston Texans look down on the AFC South

2007 RECORD: 8-8

Overview: The Houston Texans are coming off their best season ever, going 8-8 in 2007. Their early schedule was favorable and they came out of the first five games with a 3-2 record. Bad part about that was one of those losses was to the Atlanta Falcons. The last two Texan wins were against teams that were already in the playoffs as well, so in my estimation this team was 6-10 if it was 8-8. They were an improved team last year and should be better yet again. Too bad they don’t play in the NFC West.

Offense: If you liked the Denver Broncos of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, then you may want to root for this Texans team. Alex Gibbs the offensive line coach of those Broncos is the OL coach of the Texans, coming out of retirement to join his buddy Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. QB Matt Schaub is in his second year as the starter with Sage Rosenfels as his backup. Rosenfels filled in nicely when Schaub went down with an injury last season. Schaub threw only 9 TDs in the 11 games he played against 9 INTs. Rosenfels through 15 TDs in less time, but also chucked 12 INTs. Their backfield has Ahman Green and Chris Brown formerly of the Tennessee Titans. Green carried the ball only 70 times last year, so questions remain about his durability. Brown carried the ball 102 times with Tennessee, leaving him also unproven.  WR Andre Johnson caught 60 balls for 8 TDs in only nine games, and his counterpart Kevin Walter caught four TDs in 15 games. Johnson better stay healthy this year.

Defense: The Texans defense has been steadily built over the past three drafts and the Texans have a solid foundation on which to continue their surge. Mario Williams, 2006 Defensive Rookie of the Year DeMeco Ryans, Amobi Okoye in his 2nd year and the addition of rookie Frank Okam from Texas make for a formidable pass rush. Williams had 14 sacks last year and Okoye added 5.5. The other two starters on the D-Line summed up a big fat zero in the sack category last year. That would be Anthony Weaver and Travis Johnson. The linebackers are good in the middle with Ryans, but after that you can start worrying. The secondary could be made to look good if the front 4 does their job, however, the bottom line is that the secondary is not very good. This was not a very good defense overall last year and won’t be considerably better this year.

Rookies: The Texans drafted for Gibbs this year, taking an athletic OT in Duane Brown from Virginia Tech, and also claiming Steve Slaton from West Virginia, a back that is familiar with Gibbs’ philosophies since Rich Rodriguez employed them with the Mountaineers. Brown could contribute this year, but it is always a sketchy proposition to have a rookie on your O-Line. Slaton has speed, and his familiarity with the offensive philosophy may allow him to get some carries, but Slaton was soft in college so he will only be effective when operating in wide open spaces.

Prediction: Is it possible to get better every year and still always finish in last place? As noted in the Overview, the Texans had a favorable early schedule last year. This year just the opposite is true. They will do well to be 3-4 after their first seven games and they are in one of the toughest divisions. The Texans must beat the Tennessee Titans both times they meet this year. If they do that they can reach nine wins. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and predict that the Texans will go 9-7 in 2008.

View All of Dean Browski’s 2008 NFL Team Projections



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