I want to thank you in advance for allowing me to be a part of what we hope will be a great season in Houston. Even with the playoff loss, this season has high hopes and expectations. In my mind, this is the year the Texans can really be the team that the city has been craving for ever since the team came back to Houston.
My role this season for the State of the Texans will be to provide some player perspective on game preparation, game week and of course the game. Of course, I will focus mainly on the defense because of my familiarity of Wade Phillips' defense and the 3-4 scheme. Needless to say, I’m excited about this season and also to provide some knowledge that maybe the everyday fan doesn’t get on a day to day basis.
After a 12-4 season and playoff run that ended in New England, most people wouldn’t think the Texans need to improve that much in order to get to the Super Bowl. The majority of that assumption is correct but I think defensively is where they can make the biggest jump. That jump can only become reality if all the young players that need to step up do so.
Going into the 2013 season, the big question marks are on the defensive side of the ball. Can Brian Cushing come back and be the same? Can someone on the outside provide pass rush pressure on a regular basis? Does Ed Reed still have it? What can be done about the pass coverage?
All these questions are legit but let’s not forget that before Cushing got hurt the Texans' defense was ranked 5th in the NFL. They ended the season tied for 3rd in 3rd down percentage (33%) and 5th in sacks (44). In my opinion, 99% of the NFL would take that year in and year out. I think the overall talent that the Texans have, barring injuries, is as solid top to bottom in the NFL. Most great defenses have a star player or players at every level and the Texans do. Brian Cushing, J.J. Watt and Ed Reed easily fit that description. Let’s not forget Smith, Joseph and Manning either. Even with a bolstered roster and great coaching, there is room for improvement.
The biggest concern for the Texans has to be the passing yards given up per game. I’m not a big stat guy because they can be misleading in either direction, bad or good, but as we all saw at the end of the season, the Texans' defense gave up big passing yards and big plays deep that hurt them against the better opponents on their schedule. Now in reality its not all scheme or all players, it’s always somewhere in between. One thing you must know is in the NFL there isn’t a lot of depth and most teams don’t have a wealth of good back up players. This is primarily because of the CBA and salary cap for each team. I’d venture to say that the coaches would tell you that a lot of the mistakes and big plays came from new players being put into bigger roles and also that they had to “dumb” back the scheme in order for them to be somewhat effective. All might be true but it’s hard for the everyday fan to see how well the Texans rushed the passer and performed on 3rd down but still ranked 16th(226 yards/game) in yards given up passing.
In closing, this is the season of unknown for the Texan D but in reality (and hopefully in retrospect) this is the season of opportunity. If you polled any rookie coming into the NFL, they all would say that they would like an “opportunity” to show what they can do. Well for some rookies, guys that were injured, and also for the one guy in camp that comes outta nowhere, this is your opportunity to not only show yourself but the city of Houston.