2012 HOUSTON TEXANS
July 22, 2012Tri-Eastern Conference
NFL PREVIEW: KELCI BAKER, EIHSS SPORTS
Last year: 10-6, 1st in AFC South, lost divisional round
For the first time the Texans won the AFC South and defeated the Cincinnati Bengals for their first playoff victory. Even though quarterback Matt Schaub was injured, they still managed to play their last six regular-season games and two play-off games. With Schaub healthy, there are questions of whether or not they could've made a Super Bowl run. Despite a difficult schedule, they still have the NFL's second-ranked running game and second-ranked defense which gives them genuine hope of getting a ring.
With Rick Dennison's west coast style, they'll be able to not only run the ball but control the clock with Arian Foster and Ben Tate. They averaged 153 yards rushing. They also led the league in average time of possession. Before the foot injury that ended his season, Schaub led them with a 7-3 record and help them average 27.3 points. Also to keep in mind is that they played without wide out Andre Johnson for nine games because of an injury to his hamstring. They have new starters covering the field including on the right side of the offensive line, a new backup tight end and a fullback who got back his starting job. There wasn't enough money to keep right tackle Eric Winston or right tackle Mike Brisiel. Taking over Winston's job is Rashad Butler who has four career starts and spent most of last season on injured reserve. 2009 third-round pick Antoine Caldwell replaces Brisiel even though he too has had problems with injuries. Another third-round pick, Brandon Brooks could push Caldwell to start. Moving up a spot is Garrett Graham who replaces the reliable Joel Dressen because of the Texans tendency to play two tight ends. Another injury plagued starting fullback James Casey who couldn't get his job back from Lawrence Vickers. Now that Vickers is gone, Casey is back in his old position.
In his first season as defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips helped the defense move from 30th to second in yards allowed with his 3-4 style of play. For 11 games they played without Mario Williams and now he's gone altogether. In the draft they've added outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and end Jared Crick. Now they've had one whole season of practice and the entire offseason to work with Phillips and predicts it'll be a sight to see. Mercilus is expected to be the weak-side opposite Brooke Reed in passing situations. In the meantime, Brian Cushing and Connor Barwin, who had 11.5 sacks, will stand up. Phillips can rush five and drop Cushing. What is unsure when it comes to this teams’ defense is third-year cornerback Kareem Jackson and if he'll improve enough to not be a weak link in the secondary. In the first 15 yards there was improvement but further down the field there were issues, especially against tall receivers because he lacks speed and ball skills.
Joe Marciano is the coordinator of special teams for the Texans. The kicker was Neil Rackers who set a team record with 135 points. He has signed with the Washington Redskins. Also leaving the team is Jacoby Jones who averaged 10.6 yards on punt returns. After suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in December, punter Brett Hartmann will still be suspended for the first four games for violating policy on performance enhancing drugs. To replace Hartmann, Donnie Jones was signed. The top 2011 college kicker Randy Bullock was drafted for Houston in the fifth round while wide out Keshawn Martin was picked up in the fourth because of his ability to return punts.
There's an excellent staff behind Gary Kubiak as he enters his seventh season. Phillips and Dennison lead the staff while offensive lines coach John Benton and defensive backs coach Vance Joseph are amazing assistants.
2012 Draft Recap
OLB Whitney Mercilus of Illinois was the best of the Texans eight draft picks. Defensive coordinator Phillips thinks he can come off the bench in passing situations and be most effective. They'd be pairing him with outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed as well as defensive tackles J.J.Watt and Antonio Smith. On top of that, there's inside linebacker Brian Cushing. They'll want to take advantage of his speed coming off the edge, possibly placing him at weak-side end in the nickel package.
OLB Whitney Mercilus. Illinois
First round. 26th pick overall.
WR DeVier Posey. Ohio State
Third round. 68th pick overall.
His speed of 4.44 is great along with his size at 6'2'' and 211 pounds. He could earn the third receiver spot
G Brandon Brooks. Miami (Ohio)
Third round. 76th pick overall.
Swift feet for his size, he's very quick off of the ball
C-G Ben Jones. Georgia
Fourth round. 99th pick overall.
The Texans coaches also believe he can play guard
WR Keshawn Martin. Michigan State
Fourth round. 121st pick overall.
He has punt return capability and should provide depth as a slot receiver
DE Jared Crick. Nebraska
Fourth round. 126th pick overall.
He'll play end in the three-man front. After that, he'll move inside to become a part of the rotation when it comes to passing situations
K Randy Bullock. Texas A&M
Fifth round. 161st pick overall.
He'll be returning to kick for his hometown team
T Nick Mondek. Purdue
Sixth round. 195th pick overall.
Competing for a backup job
Week 2 9/16: Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 PM ET, CBS
Week 3 9/23: Houston Texans at Denver Broncos, 4:15 PM ET, CBS
Week 4 9/30: Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans, 1 PM ET, CBS
Week 5 10/8: Houston Texans at New York Jets, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN
Week 6 10/14: Green Bay Packers vs. Houston Texans, 8:20 PM ET, NBC
Week 7 10/21: Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans, 1 PM ET, CBS
Week 8 10/28: BYE WEEK
Week 9 11/4: Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans, 1 PM ET, CBS
Week 10: 11/11: Houston Texans at Chicago Bears, 8:20 PM ET, NBC
Week 11 11/18: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans, 1 PM ET, CBS
Week 12 11/22: Houston Texans at Detroit Lions, 12:30 PM ET, CBS
Week 13 12/2: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans, 1 PM ET, CBS
Week 14 12/10: Houston Texans at New England Patriots, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN
Week 15 12/16: Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans, 1 PM ET, CBS
Week 16 12/23: Minnesota Vikings vs. Houston Texans, 1 PM ET, Fox
Week 17 12/30: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts, 1 PM ET, CBS
Unsigned Draft Pick
Unrestricted Free Agent