Preseason Lowdown : Houston Texans

football, preseason, teams, texans

What’s the story? 

The Houston Texans are relevant. The first decade was rough on the new(ish) franchise with no winning season to be seen until 2009. But they’ve made it to the divisional round of the playoffs for the past 2 seasons and have continued to rise as the star in a division whose only real competition comes from the Colts (we’ll talk about the Jags and Titans tomorrow…prepare to not be amazed). Now that they’ve proven they can play with the big kids, they need to start consistently beating the big kids. This could be a make it or break it season for the Texans.

Leader and commander:

Gary Kubiak, who, after 7 seasons with the team and much success, could find himself looking for a job if this season falls on the “break it” end of the spectrum. He has a reservation for one on the hot seat unless the Texans advance further into the playoffs than ever before.

New kid on the block:

Ed Reed, former Ravens stalwart, will be holding down the defense at safety. Which means with J.J. Watt up front and Reed in the secondary and Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator…well, good luck, offenses of the world.

Last year was…

…under appreciated, only because the Texans are capable of so much more than losing two consecutive divisional title games. They started off fast and furious and ended with the best record in franchise history at 12-4. Not too shabby, but also not fully living up to potential.

Survey says:

The Texans can win the division. They’ve proven that. But they’ll need to prove more than that to solidify their status as a real threat in the AFC (and for everyone to keep their jobs at the end of the season).

Side note: be on the lookout for current defensive player of the year, J.J. Watt, to break Michael Strahan’s sack record. Just for practice, he also breaks the laws of physics, as seen here.

Divisional Breakdown : AFC South Teams

Welcome to this week’s divisional breakdown! Today, we’re learning all about the AFC South.

The Houston Texans

History: Houston’s team was the Oilers until 1997, when owner Bud Adams was granted permission to move the team to Tennessee. They (eventually) became the Tennessee Titans. Teamless, Houston levied for an expansion team and was granted one (but not before a long and expensive battle with Los Angeles). The Texans first season was 2002.

Current Players to Know: Matt Schaub will be returning as quarterback after sitting out the second half of last season to a foot injury. J.J. Watt will be holding down the fort on defense as the team’s star defensive end as long as his dislocated elbow heals by the season opener on September 9th. And Andre Johnson is Andre Johnson: possibly the best wide receiver in the league.

Head Coach: Gary Kubiak

2011 Regular Season Record: 10-6

What to Watch For in 2012: The Texans could be a Super Bowl contender in 2012. They made a splash in the playoffs last season and that was without starting QB Matt Schaub. If they can stay healthy they could have a great season.

The Indianapolis Colts

History: The Colts have been members of the NFL since it’s inception and were one of three teams to move over to the AFC during the 1970 merger. They moved from Baltimore to their current home in Indianapolis in 1984.

Current Players to Know: Andrew Luck, Andrew Luck, and Andrew Luck. You may have heard that the Colts’ 14 year franchise quarterback, Peyton Manning, was ousted from Indy for the young whipper snapper Andrew Luck. Luck is touted as the best prospect to come out of the draft in decades, so all eyes will be on him and how he replaces a legend this season.

Head Coach: Chuck Pagano

2011 Regular Season Record: 2-14

What to Watch For in 2012: Well…everything. The Colts were deplorable last season without Manning, and their reaction was to clean house completely. Sixty of the ninety players who reported to training camp this season are new, the head coach is new, the defensive system is new, even the long-standing executives are new. It’ll be so interesting to see how the Colts adjust to this era in their history.

The Jacksonville Jaguars

History: The Jaguars are a relatively new team, granted as an expansion team and the 30th team overall in 1995. They’ve had sparks of greatness and splashes of less-than-greatness in that short amount of time.

Current Players to Know: Maurice Jones-Drew will be the big name here – he’s the running back who is holding out for a better contract and is key to the Jaguars offense functioning at it’s best. Rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon should help the offense if he lives up to his potential. Blaine Gabbert is almost definitely going to be the starting quarterback.

Head Coach: Mike Mularkey

2011 Regular Season Record: 5-11

What to Watch For in 2012: The Jaguars can do defense…it’s offense they struggle with. If Blaine Gabbert struggles Chad Henne would be the replacement at QB – not a bad deal in the least, and potentially preferable. The MJD story will continue to be a focal point until it resolves.

The Tennessee Titans

History: The Tennessee Titans were originally the Houston Oilers. They remained the Oilers even after they moved to Tennessee in 1997 (owner Bud Adams requested the move), but in 1998 due to fan request the name was changed to the Titans.

Current Players to Know: Matt Hasselbeck is a veteran quarterback, Jack Locker is a second year QB. The two are currently fighting it out (cordially) for the starting spot. Chris Johnson is a running back who had a record setting year several years ago but has not returned to similar glory since, although he’s still outstanding at his job.

Head Coach: Mike Munchak

2011 Regular Season Record: 9-7

What to Watch For in 2012: Who starts at quarterback? How productive will Chris Johnson be? Will Kenny Britt, consistently delinquent juvenile, be available to play for most/any/all of the season or will he be suspended? The Titans managed to have a decent year last year (partially because most of the other teams in the division managed to have a non-decent year last year), so they have the potential to be respectable this season.