Texans Roundtable: Talking Texans
Patrick D. Starr
It's that time of year again where the start of the Houston Texans season is just down the road and the anticipation of another NFL season is upon us. We decided to enlist the help of some of our SOTT friends and do a round table of Texans talk.
We asked a series of questions to the panel, mostly about predictions of Texans players. How about we meet the panel.
Steph Stradley- The "Texans Chick" and good all around lady, writes for the Houston Chronicle and is a good friend of the site.
Mike Kerns- Host of the Luv Ya Steel Blue Podcast, he also writes for the Pigskin Report covering all things football.
Big Ron- A great mind when it comes to football, his Texans knowledge is top-notch. Ron really shines during NFL draft time.
Aaron Close- Better known as "Bubbles", the co-host of the Luv Ya Steel Blue podcast is not quiet when he voices his opinion of the Texans.
Tx Cleaver- A Twitter phenomenon, the plug-in co-host for the Luv Ya Steel Blue podcast and enjoys talking Texans and the LSU Tigers.
P.D. Starr- Owner and Editor of the State of the Texans, enjoys all the Texans and talking about the team.
Offensive Player of the Year
Steph:Arian Foster. If the Texans' defense plays the way it can, he is going to get plenty of work. Even if they don't play the way it can, he is going to get plenty of work.
Mike: Matt Schaub. There is no question that last year proved how much he means to this offense. Call him a scheme guy or a system quarterback all you want, when he's out there this offense moves the ball. And with a couple of new receiving questions and the new additions to the offensive line possibly making the run game struggle at times, I expect Matt to air it out a bit more this year.
Big Ron: Arian Foster. I expect him to continue the trend of consistent production that he's been on over the past two years.
Aaron:Schaub... because he is the difference between a close win/loss and a beat down, which is what we will do to most of the opponents this year.
Tx Cleaver:Schaub. Kubiak sounds like he's going to mix things up on offense more this year and Schaub should take advantage of a diverse and multi-option offensive attack. Obviously, Foster is tempting here but I think Tate eats into his carries and there are obviously some unknowns with the right side of the line. There are also some concerns about Foster playing 16 games (because he's a running back). Despite being a noodle arm that throws inexplicable interceptions at bad times and LOVES a #CrumbleSack, I expect Schaub to manage a lethal offense.
Pat:Andre Johnson. Considered injury prone, Johnson will come back and put up some numbers that will make his critics quiet. No one expects to see the old Johnson from previous seasons, but expect Kubiak to protect the face of the franchise.
Defensive Player of the Year
Steph: Connor Barwin. Hello contract year.
Mike: Johnathan Joseph. Since the other side of the field has just some dudes playing cornerback, it's going to be up to JJo again to lock up the opposition's number one guy. Just as he proved last year, this is something that shouldn't be a problem.
Big Ron:Johnathan Joseph. He'll pick up where he left off last season as one of the top cover CBs in the NFL, allowing Wade Phillips and the Texans front-7 to continue to wreak havoc against passing offenses.
Aaron:J.J. Watt. Defensive end in the 3-4 is not a glamor position but he makes it one...
TX Cleaver:Cushing. This came down to Cushing and Watt for me. Both guys will contribute in ways that won't necessarily pop off the stat sheet. While Barwin should have gaudier numbers, and Joseph is probably the best player on defense, I think Cushing will have the biggest impact on the squad. With Wade's creativity, Cushing should wreck shop this year. He'll need to, as interior run defense is an issue, and QBs aren't going to injure themselves. Just imagine if Cushing had a big NT to eat up blockers for him.
Pat:Connor Barwin... is primed for a big season. As the 2011 season went on, he developed his pass rushing skills. With a great offseason under his belt and a nice sample size of him in the preseason, he will be a force off the edge.
Rookie of the Year
Steph: Not sure there's a stand out Texans rookie this year. If there is, there's likely some big, fat, sad trouble. Kubiak hates depending on rookies, because they are both brilliant and frustrating.
Mike: Whitney Mercilus. After the beating I took from everyone who told me I was dreaming when I predicted him to be a Texan prior to the draft, how could I pick anyone else? Like I said then, this kid is a perfect fit for what Wade likes to do and I think he's going to rake in this scheme. He'll make the pain of letting Connor Barwin walk all the easier.
Big Ron:Whitney Mercilus - He'll get the QB. A crucial function and one that will put him front and center.
Aaron:Whitney... because his pass rush is MERCYilus....
TX Cleaver:Keshawn Martin should get the biggest opportunity to thrive, unless he's in Kubiak's dog house until November for fumbling. He looks like a receiver that can both run AND catch, which we've missed for the past decade or so (80 excluded, obviously). I'd prefer for Mercilus to get this honor, as a great contribution from him would have a bigger impact on the team.
Pat:Keshawn Martin is one of the missing pieces this offense has needed. Getting him going early in the season is going to be key, expect plenty of receptions coming his way.
Steph: Matt Schaub. He makes the offense go. Gets little credit for it.
Mike: I really don't see how I can pick anyone other than Matt Schaub based off of what I said above. He proved last year to be the exact definition of the player that is most valuable to the team. They're a completely different vehicle without him.
Big Ron:Matt Schaub - He'll stay healthy and be the key to the Texans' advancing further in 2012 than 2011.
Aaron:Schaub.. cause I hope to hell we don't see any TJ Yates at all!!!
TX Cleaver:Schaub. The make up of this Texans squad is such that I don't think Team MVP will mean much. With a balanced offense AND a competent defense, a consensus team MVP would only mean that something didn't work too well.
Pat:Matt Schaub will prove this is his team and they are better with him at quarterback.
Unsung Texan (Texans player most vital to the team's success not in the spotlight)
Steph: Chris Myers. Making big changes on your offensive line? Well, it is best not to worry about your center in that transition.
Mike:Shaun Cody. I had him as my unsung hero last year and I'm sticking to that since people still seem to not realize just how vital he is to this defense. No, he isn't the 350 pound nose tackle we've all dreamed of, but he never misses his assignment, is out-of-place, or isn't going 100% at all times.
Big Ron:Chris Myers - The leader of an Offensive line that's assimilating a new right side. If they remain a top unit, it will be due in large part to Myers' leadership of the group.
Aaron:Wade Smith. You don't get a guy more built for zone blocking than him...solid in the run game and pass protection.
Tx Cleaver: I expect Glover Quin will play a huge role in both run support and coverage. The team will need him to help with the young CBs and, if they stay soft in the middle, he'll be big on coming up to help the LBs. Manning will likely make the flashier plays but Quin's versatility is critical. His contributions may not show up with big INT numbers but his presence and versatility are critical.
Pat:Brice McCain is on the verge of being a top-notch cornerback in the NFL. Considered one of the top nickel corners in the game in 2011, he will be the first to replace Kareem Jackson if something goes wrong. Despite his small stature, McCain has the speed and coverage skills to be a solid #2 corner for the Texans.
Biggest Question Mark for the Team
Steph: Trindon Holliday. Special teams coach Joe Marciano has coached some fast-as-bleep guys to some enormous special teams' years. In 2005, special teams was the only good thing to watch. Holliday could be a feast or famine sort of player--hard to project him in the NFL because Muggsy Bogues types usually aren't on NFL rosters. Would be nice if returns weren't an adventure, but then again, some adventures are fun.
Mike: Antoine Caldwell. With both him and Derek Newton being the newbies on the right side of the line, there are plenty of question marks. Newton is still relatively an unknown, but we've seen Caldwell in the past and the results have been mixed. I'm highly skeptical and think that if Arian Foster isn't ripping off big runs to the right this year, it has zero to do with his diet and plenty to do with the line play.
Big Ron:Derek Newton - The talent is there but his technique and consistency needs to come along quickly in order to be a successful starting RT. If he puts it together, they'll be stout up front again. If he doesn't... uh oh.
Aaron: Let's just say all of the new wide receivers Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey and Lestar Jean have all shown flashes of greatness as well as some bone head decisions.
TX Cleaver: This has to be Derek Newton, right? Young, barely drafted kid from a school nobody has confirmed exists, battlefighting his way into a starting tackle gig on an elite offensive line? The only other viable candidate is probably (gulp) Schaub.
Pat:Bradie James. He is the only new starter for the Texans defense in 2012, and he is playing an important spot next to Cushing. He has to provide some toughness on the inside. His leadership and knowledge of the defense are great but the bottom line is production. Let's hope father time gives him one more season.
Surprise Player of the Year
Steph:I'm not sure there are any surprise players to be had for this team. The players I think who are going to be up and down are going to be up and down. I think different players will do flashy things different games based on what opponent tendencies are. Think some surprises have been revealed in the preseason. I know that is a boring answer. Sorry.
Mike:Lestar Jean. Other than Aaron, I can't think of one person who thought this kid would ever see the field for the Texans in regular season play, but he has the ability to just go up and get the ball and he appears to have really good hands. He showed his work ethic with his year off by learning the playbook and being ready to win a job in camp. That work ethic translates to success on the field this year when he pushes Kevin Walter for his job.
Big Ron:Garrett Graham. I see Graham filling in quite well for the departed Joel Dreessen and maybe even being more of a downfield threat than J.D. was. In an offense that features TEs as much as the Texans', Graham's emerging could be a very pleasant surprise for Texans Fans.
Aaron:Derek Newton. He won the starting RT job and he will excel with experience. Expect the first couple of weeks to be a bit rough but then I think he will be a stand out the rest of the season.
TX Cleaver:Garrett Graham is a big unknown, but Kubiak loves him some TE2, and Graham looks the part of an athletic big man thus far. I'm guessing (not even a real educated one, either) that Kubiak would want Daniels doing some blocking if the running game sputters. And unless Kubiak just goes speed crazy (he won't), Graham could break out this year.
*I'm holding out hope for the possibility that Gilbert Brown or somebody from Lambo Chinese Buffet is unearthed to give us a legit NT. That would be the surprise player of the year, except for fans that have had the thirst for an NT.
Pat:Whitney Mercilus. The reason is simple, he will provide a shot in the arm to the outside linebackers that the three-man rotation of Mercilus, Barwin and Reed will be fresher during the game than last season. Mercilus will have the opportunity to post double-digit sacks in his first season in Houston.
Bold Prediction for the Team
Steph: I gotta tell you I feel uncomfortable with this whole exercise because I believe so much that happens in a relatively short NFL season is luck, and I'm not being entertaining enough to be worth reading these words. So if I happen to get things right, it's not because I'm a particularly good predictor, it's just because I happened to say heads instead of tails and the fates or the football gods didn't make Fat Albert crush Matt Schaub's foot or something else random, unfair, and awful.
Mike: They stay mostly healthy and finally notch their first franchise win against the Ravens in week 7.
Big Ron:I have the Texans winning the AFC South at 10-6 again, but this year being a bit more fortunate on the health front... fortunate enough that I picked them to win the SuperBowl.
Aaron: They lose to Green Bay in the regular season but beat them in the playoffs...(yes I know that will be the Super Bowl!)
TX Cleaver: Going through the schedule, I was at 13-3. Factoring in variables, like fluke losses, refs, Schaub, Kubiak, and history, I'm going with 11-5. Playoff predictions are silly for a myriad of reasons, so in the spirit of silliness I'll take the Texans over the Packers in the Super Bowl.
Pat: The Texans will be in the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles where the Texans will lose in their first appearance in the big game. (*I am trying to use reverse psychology, the Texans will win the Super Bowl!)