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Today: The Houston Texans
Last Year: 2-14 (last place in the league)
A two-game winning streak and 14 straight losses. One year removed from a 12-win season, the Texans shit the bed. Matt Schaub, after being a more than serviceable starter, suddenly stunk. Arian Foster only appeared in eight games. And….
Here’s the thing: The Houston Texans went 2-14 last season, but, when looking at their statistics, I can’t figure out how in the world they lost that many games. The team ranked 15th in passing yards, 20th in rushing yards, 3rd defending the passing, and 23rd defending the run. Sure, those numbers don’t scream playoff team, but they don’t scream two wins either.
So why did the Texans lose so many damn games last year? In a stroke of good luck, Bill Barnwell over at Grantland wrote about this just a few days ago. In short, the Texans lost the majority of their close games, generated a very low number of turnovers, blew a lot of games in the second half, were bad at kicking field goals, and allowed too many defensive touchdowns. Barnwell does a better job than me at explaining all of this, so head over to Grantland if you want the nitty-gritty. The point is, the Texans, despite last season’s record, don’t suck.
Sometimes a really good kid shits the bed. That’s all it is. One mistake. After the cleanup, he/she is still a good kid. That kid might be the Texans.
Last Year’s Stud: J.J. Watt
Last season, J.J. Watt had 10.5 sacks, 15 tackles for a loss, and 80 total tackles. He’s a freak (99.8! score from Pro Football Focus). He’s the best defensive player in the league.
Runner-up: Andre Johnson
Last Year’s Surprise: Garrett Graham
Owen Daniels only played in five games, so Graham was forced to contribute more than he ever has. He ended up third on the team in receptions and tied for first in touchdown catches.
Runner-up: DeAndre Hopkins (only dropped one pass all season)
Last Year’s Disappointment: Matt Schaub
One of the worst INTs of last season…
Runner-up: Arian Foster
Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt will be lining up on the same defensive line. Woah.
Other notable pick: Xavier Su’a-Filo
This Year’s Stud: J.J. Watt
He’s not declining.
Runner-up: Jadeveon Clowney
He’s already making highlight worthy plays in training camp. Not to mention that with teams eyeing Watt on every down, Clowney might have some chances to exploit favorable matchups. This is exactly why drafting Clowney was the right move for Houston. Its defensive line went from scary to terrifying with the Clowney selecton.
This Year’s Surprise: Ryan Fitzpatrick
I’m not saying he’s going to be Peyton Manning. But, what I am saying is that Ryan Fitzpatrick might be the second best quarterback in the division.
Runner-up: Louis Nix
This Year’s Disappointment: Arian Foster
Foster missed half the season last year. At this point in his career, he’s got to be feeling the mileage. He’s trying to be great teammate, but I don’t think he’ll see the kind of success that he saw earlier in his career.
Runner-up: Garrett Graham
Draft early: Andre Johnson
Good value in the middle rounds: Arian Foster, DeAndre Hopkins
Don’t draft: Ryan Fitzpatrick
What Vegas Is Saying (LVH Sports Book): 7.5 wins
What We’re Saying: 8-8 (2nd place in AFC South)
It’s a consensus that the Texans are going to be better in 2014 under the guidance of new head coach Bill O’Brien. The debate instead is whether or not the Texans are good enough to land a playoff spot. I’m still not sure.
Right now I have Houston pegged as an eight-win team. I could see it winning 10. I could see it winning six. Who the hell knows? But they’re not a two-win team. Not with Watt and Clowney on that defensive line. Not with Andre Johnson coming back. And, not if Brian Cushing is healthy, though that’s a big IF.
[genericon icon=twitter] Follow Sean Wagner-McGough on Twitter @seanjwagner