2006 Season Preview: #31 Houston Texans
What happened last season: It's hard to imagine it today, but after going 7-9 in 2004, it wasn't unthinkable a year ago that the Texans could make the playoffs in 2005. Instead, the Texans posted the worst record in the NFL at 2-14, with their only victories coming against such lowly competition as the Browns and Cardinals. The Texans ranked 30th in total offense and 31st in total defense. The story on the offensive side of the ball was the inability of David Carr to cross the threshold of NFL quarterback mediocrity. Carr led the Texans to the 31st ranked passing attack, and although the offensive line was no help, Carr has had decent running support and a potential Pro Bowler at receiver in Andre Johnson to aid him. Good quarterbacks can do a lot more with a lot less. While there is still optimism in Houston that Carr will develop into the franchise QB he was expected to be, the bottom line is that after his fourth year as starter Carr's career appears to be a much closer approximation of Tim Couch's legacy than Peyton Manning's. Defensively, the Texans fielded the most porous run stopping unit in the NFL, a fact that must have been particularly troubling to ex-head coach and renowned defensive guru, Dom Capers. The Texans' season was very quickly rendered a joke, but once the scope of the disaster was apparent, the Texans made all the right moves by mailing in the rest of the season, which enabled them to lock up the number one pick in the draft with a miraculous loss to the 49ers on the last weekend of the season. Despite the reprehensible play of their team, Texans fans were privately rejoicing their victory in the Reggie Bush Sweepstakes because they knew their woes would soon be assuaged by the addition of one of the most exciting players to enter the league in years. However, that leads us to...
What has changed: The Texans drafted Mario Williams with the first fucking pick in the draft! The only possible explanation for how the Texans could have passed up on Reggie Bush is an intelligence failure at all levels of the organization. It was a decision that can only be described as Isiahthomasesque. It is easy to blame Charley Casserly because he was ultimately the one responsible for the unconscionable decision to take Mario Williams with the top pick. However, Texans owner Bob McNair shares equal culpability. How could he just sit back and let Casserly completely fuck up the most important decision in the history of the franchise before his eyes? The worst part of the whole situation was that the Texans fired Casserly in May. How can anyone in the Texans' organization sleep at night knowing that a lame duck GM single-handedly sucked the collective football zeal from both the team and the city of Houston? Even if the Texans weren't convinced that Reggie Bush was second coming of Gayle Sayers, there was such a universal consensus that Reggie Bush was by far the best prospect in the draft that the Texans really had no choice but to take him and hope that the rest of the world was right. Even if Bush turned out to be a bust, no one could blame the Texans for taking him. At the very least, they could have traded down a few spots and picked up some sort of compensation in exchange for settling on the fourth or fifth best player in the draft. Instead, they took Mario Williams, a defensive lineman from North Carolina State. I'm sure Williams is a fine player, but a defensive lineman has to be really fucking good to justify being taken number one overall. I apologize for the rant. I just wanted to get all of that on the record just in case Charley Casserly googles "Charley Casserly is a huge asshole" or something like that. The other notable additions for the Texans this offseason were the free agent signings of LB Sam Cowart from Minnesota, C Mike Flannagan from Green Bay, WR Eric Moulds from Buffalo, TE Jeb Putzier from Denver and DE Anthony Weaver from Baltimore. The Texans also fired head coach Dom Capers and replaced him with Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiac, who, for no reason other than my inherent immaturity, I will refer to from now on as Gary Pube-iac.
What will happen this season: With all that being said, the Texans were better than a two-win team last year. It wouldn't be surprising to see Houston win anywhere from four to six games this season. The draft aside, the Texans made some respectable moves in free agency, and the Texans will undoubtedly field a better team this season. Eric Moulds isn't any good these days, but Cowart, Weaver and their draft picks should be able to solidify their defense and keep them out of the statistical cellar. Andre Johnson and Domanick Davis will continue to be effective, but David Carr needs to make things happen this year on offense for this team to be successful, and I just don't see it happening. If Carr doesn't break out this season, look for the Texans to enter the starting quarterback market, perhaps eyeing Ohio State's Troy Smith, who could be next year's Vince Young. The most disheartening thing for the Texans is that there seems to be no long-term plan in effect. This team doesn't have a legit franchise player to build around, and the Texans will continue to be one of the most boring and least impressive teams in the NFL until they get another opportunity to sign a brand-name player like Reggie Bush.