2014 NFL Preview: Houston Texans

2014 NFL Preview: Houston Texans

In August of 2013, the Houston Texans were one of the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Coming off two straight division titles and boasting the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in J.J. Watt, the expectations were high. And a 2-0 start to the season did nothing to sway the Texans’ backers. Three months later their record was 2-14. Five months after that they were drafting Jadeveon Clowney with the number one overall pick. Former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien is manning the sidelines. Arian Foster is retuning from a season-ending back injury. Andre Johnson is threatening to holdout of training camp. Ryan Fitzpatrick is listed atop the quarterback depth chart. Houston might not be in rebuild mode, but they are most definitely retooling the franchise. Here’s a preview of their 2014 season.

Outlook: Well, they can’t be any worse than the 2013 team that dropped a dreadful 14 consecutive games. O’Brien brings renewed energy and a penchant for grooming less than stellar quarterback talent. That said, he faces a stiff challenge revamping a moribund offense that has giant question marks hanging over its two best players. The defense should rebound with Watt, Clowney, Brian Cushing, and Jonathan Joseph leading the charge. If the QB quandary rights itself and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins takes the next step in his second year, the Texans could be a tough opponent by November.

New arrivals: Clowney’s spotty work ethic didn’t prevent him from being the first player taken in the 2014 Draft. He is supremely skilled and an absolute athletic freak. If he improves his attitude and puts forth maximum effort, he will make the front four downright scary. Ryan Fitzpatrick started 41 games from 2011-2013; he is far from consistent, but he is the best option on the roster. Free agents Kendrick Lewis and Chris Clemons will battle for the starting Free Safety spot in training camp. Notre Dame’s Louis Nix is is a mammoth prospect at defensive tackle, but his dedication caused him to slip into the fourth round. Ex-Giant Andre Brown will serve as Foster’s backup.

Wave goodbye: Matt Schaub won a lot of games under center, but he was pegged at the primary scapegoat for the 2013 disaster, and was dealt to Oakland for a sixth-round pick. Ben Tate’s career 4.7 yards per carry average and record of nagging injuries is now in Cleveland. Antonio Smith, Darryl Sharpton, and Joe Mays combined for 36 starts a year ago, but all three were allowed to walk. Tight end Owen Daniels hasn’t played a full season since 2008; his 29 career touchdowns weren’t enough to keep him in Houston, so he inked a one-year deal with the Ravens.

Over/Under wins – 7.5: A lot of stars will have to align for this roster to sniff .500. The schedule isn’t brutal, especially if the NFC East is overrated once again. A solid defense and running game has propelled otherwise average teams into the playoffs. That doesn’t seem probable for the Texans, but it wouldn’t be shocking, either.

Bet the Under