Texans: Nowhere But Up
Aug. 7, 2008
A case could easily be made that the Houston Texans were the best team in football last year that did not make the postseason. Two main factors contributed to the team's ultimate failure -- the unkind circumstance of playing in a strong division and the misfortune of numerous and ill-timed injuries. While the first of those obstacles will be the case again this year, the Texans will improve -- and help fantasy teams -- if they can keep their players on the field.
Last year Houston played in the NFL's toughest division. In fact, every team in the AFC South except Houston made the playoffs. Though significant gains in the win column will be tough, team officials have taken steps to curtail the other issue holding back the team. The Texans addressed the offensive front -- its first line of protection for the team's skill-position players -- in the draft and in offseason coaching moves.
Houston hauled in a rookie offensive tackle (Duane Brown) with its top pick in April's NFL Draft, and the team hired O-line guru Alex Gibbs, who will serve as assistant head coach/offense. Gibbs will continue preaching his infamous zone-blocking scheme, and with it will come the cut blocks that all defensive linemen absolutely adore.
But above all, the key for Houston will be staying healthy. After a 2006 season that had the Texans lead the league in players on injured reserve (17), the team suffered the same number of IR casulties in '07. High-profile addition Matt Schaub dislocated his non-throwing shoulder and played in only 11 games last year. His top target, and the team's only true game-breaker, wide receiver Andre Johnson, missed seven games with a bum knee. Veteran Ahman Green topped the tailback depth chart in the preseason, but he hit the dreaded age of 30 and hit his knee hard enough to limit him to only five games. While the Texans will be forced yet again to face a ferocious division, health alone may bring about more positive results for fantasy owners, if not in the win column. After all, no team can stay snake bitten forever.