The Houston Texans instantly improved their defense with the selection of Jadeveon Clowney, but they are in for another rebuilding year due to a lack of a proven quarterback.
2013 Season Recap
The Texans finished with a league-worst 2-14 record despite being considered Super Bowl contenders by many fans before the season. They got off to a 2-0 start, but everything went south as they lost their last 14 games. This was mostly due to lack of production from their quarterbacks. Nine of their losses were by single digits.
Their defense allowed 26.8 points per game, which tied for 24th in the NFL. However, they finished seventh in total defense, which is likely because their offense never gave them good field position with three-and-outs and turnovers.
2014 Offseason Recap
The Texans attempted to upgrade at quarterback through free agency by signing Ryan Fitzpatrick while trading away Matt Schaub, who completely lost his confidence. Safety was also improved with the signings of Kendrick Lewis and Chris Clemons.
They also hired a new head coach after firing Gary Kubiak. Bill O’Brien, who worked wonders for a Penn State program under severe sanctions, will look to revive the Texans offense. A new defensive coordinator has also arrived. Romeo Crennel has a proven track record with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, and he has plenty of talent to work with.
In the draft, the Texans took advantage of holding the first overall pick by drafting defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who will play outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. He has already looked promising in preseason for the Texans. They also selected players such as guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, nose tackle Louis Nix and quarterback Tom Savage.
Position of strength
The strongest position for the Texans right now is linebacker since all of their starters are reliable and have Pro Bowl potential. Brian Cushing will return at inside linebacker after missing most of last season, and Clowney and Whitney Mercilus will line up on the outside. They have the potential to form the most fearsome outside linebacker duo in the NFL with many years ahead of them.
Brooks Reed is also a solid inside linebacker who will benefit from the help around him, and he already has plenty of talent of his own. Akeem Dent is a capable reserve at inside linebacker if anything happens to Cushing again.
Position of weakness
This is an obvious choice. The Texans have done nothing to assure their fans that their quarterback play will improve, especially after assumed starter Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions in the preseason opener. The offense also failed to score a single point.
As long as Fitzpatrick is their best option and keeps playing the way he did, the Texans are guaranteed to miss the playoffs again.
Best case scenario
If Fitzpatrick has a more firm grasp of the offense and improves, the Texans may become a sleeper to contend for the playoffs. They have an elite running back in Arian Foster and a reliable wide receiver in Andre Johnson unless the unthinkable happens and he gets traded. They also have a solid offensive line who has consistently opened up running lanes for Foster.
On the defensive side, the Texans have the potential to be a top-five unit. The addition of Clowney and Watt still being in his prime will make the pass rush a nightmare for offensive lines across the league.
The linebackers are also solid all-around, and the Texans have two solid starting cornerbacks in Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson. Joseph is still one of the better cover corners in the league, and Jackson is due for a bounceback season after struggling in 2013. He had four interceptions in 2012, so Crennel will look to bring out his full potential.
Worst case scenario
If the Texans repeat their disastrous quarterback performances, they are headed for the cellar once again. It could become even worse if Foster does not heal from his injury since Jonathan Grimes is not a capable full-time starter. The decision to let Ben Tate walk in free agency may come back to haunt the Texans, and it’s inexplicable why he was let go since the Browns only had to pay him $3.1 million a year.
If Clowney proves his critics right and underachieves due to laziness, the defense may take another step back as well. It will have a difficult task in staying on the field virtually nonstop if the offense continues to sputter.
The Texans have a talented roster and a smart head coach in Bill O’Brien, so they are bound to bounce back. Plus, they have an easy schedule since they play in a weak AFC South. The only winning teams from last season they will have to face is the Colts, Bengals and Eagles.
This will be enough to help the Texans win at least six games, and they may approach eight or nine if everything goes right for them.
However, they are in rebuilding mode and are going against a Super Bowl contender in the Indianapolis Colts, so a division title is completely out of the question.
Prediction: 2nd in the AFC South, no playoffs