2015 NFL Preview: Houston Texans

2015 NFL Preview: Houston Texans

Despite having a not so great quarterback situation, the 2014 Houston Texans went from the worst in the NFL to a 9-7 team that actually stayed alive in the playoff race until the final week of the season. Four signal-callers took snaps, led by Ryan Fitzpatrick and his epic beard; Fitzy was serviceable before being benched in early November, then snapping his tibia a month later. Arian Foster delivered another impressive dual-threat campaign, but he once again couldn’t stay healthy, missing three games with a hamstring strain. A top 10 scoring defense carried much of the weight while the offense struggled to gain consistency. With no permanent solution at quarterback, a similar scenario could very well be in place for the upcoming campaign. Here’s a preview of the 2015 Houston Texans.

Outlook: Like the Jets and Bills, the Texans enter this season draped in uncertainty when it comes to their starting quarterback. Journeymen Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett are expected to compete for the top spot with second-year pro Tom Savage trailing a distant third. Head coach Bill O’Brien is known for his offensive pedigree, but not having a legit talent under center makes his job that much tougher. A solid defense built around two-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt will be better after a few key additions from the draft and free agency. Also, having a fully recovered Jadeveon Clowney opposite Watt should pay dividends providing the former number one overall pick lives up to the hype.

Later, dude: Andre Johnson exits Houston as the franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns by a wide margin. A borderline Hall of Famer, Johnson bolted for the divisional rival Colts after being released in March. Age certainly caught up to him, but his clutch hands and sharp route running will be missed. Linebacker Brooks Reed was a steady producer for four years, totaling 14.5 sacks as a part-time starter; he’ll be asked to do even more on an Atlanta defense that sorely lacks difference-makers. Safety Kendrick Lewis was respectable in his one season, but coverage breakdowns and a fat contract offer from the Ravens made him expendable.

Welcome aboard: At 33, Vince Wilfork isn’t the disruptive force he was once, but two Super Bowl rings and a run-stuffing rep makes him a valuable addition to an already scary front seven. Safety Rahim Moore was deemed a better fit than Kendrick Lewis, so he was poached from Denver’s secondary at a price of $12 million over three years. Ex-Jaguar Cecil Shorts will help fill the void at wide receiver left by Johnson’s departure. However, Shorts has yet to play a full 16-game season due to various ailments. Brian Hoyer isn’t very good, but he might be good enough to win the starting gig under center. Get excited Texans fans! Rookie OLB Benardrick McKinney is a speed rusher with athleticism to spare who has a realistic chance to be a Week 1 starter. Same can be said for cornerback Kevin Johnson. Third-round pick Jaelen Strong is raw and not very fast, but he has a golden opportunity to climb a thin receiving depth chart.

Over/Under wins – 8.5: If the AFC East and NFC South are improved divisions, then Houston is in trouble. Winning with Hoyer/Mallett against contenders will be a tall order indeed. Is DeAndre Hopkins ready to be the go-to option in the passing game? Can Arian Foster deliver one more highly productive season? Too many questions.

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