Team Profiles- Houston Texans by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
Bill O’Brien is the current head coach and offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans. This is his first head coaching job in the NFL. O’Brien has spent most of this coaching career at the college level, but was with the New England Patriots from 2007-2011. He served as a wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, and was promoted to offensive coordinator in February 2011. In 2012, he was hired by Penn State to take over a program that had just endured the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. O’Brien finished his first Texan season with a 9-7 record. O’Brien is an offensive minded coach, who has a solid defense, so the fit should work. 2014 was still a reflection of the team HC Gary Kubiak had built, so it will be interesting to see what changes O’Brien makes in 2015, to mold the team into his design.
2015 Team Outlook– The AFC South has the Indianapolis Colts, and the other 3. Other than some question marks at the running back position, the Colts have all the pieces in place to easily lead the AFC South in wins again in 2015. The Texans meanwhile, have lots of pieces missing, so while the Colts are repeating, the Texans will be rebuilding. The other 2 teams, Jacksonville and Tennessee, only had 5 wins total between the two teams in 2014. Jacksonville is growing around a “just OK” quarterback in Blake Bortles, drafted in 2014, and Tennessee keeps drafting and plugging in a different QB, seemingly every year. The AFC South will finish in 2015, like it did in 2014. Colts winning the division, Houston in 2nd place, and the other 2 teams out of contention.
2015 Fantasy Outlook–
QB– It’s almost unfair that the Colts have needed only 2 great quarterbacks playing for them since 1998, while the “other 3″ struggle to have just a competent QB on their roster…for any season. The “other 3″ are Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville. Of the 3, only Jacksonville knows who their 2105 quarterback will be. The Texans have QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and Tom Savage listed on their roster, but last year the Texans traded for Ryan Mallett, and there are rumblings that the Texans want him to start in 2015. (It didn’t cost Houston much to get him from New England, only for a conditional 6th round pick.) Mallett is a free agent however, so Houston first has to re-sign him. UPDATE: Texans Acquired a 2016 seventh-round pick from the Jets in exchange for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Sign former Brown QB Brian Hoyer. Re-signed QB Ryan Mallett.
RBs– RB Arian Foster’s may have a reputation for being injured often, but for a running back who carries the ball as many times as he does, Foster actually plays a lot, and for most of every season. RB Foster missed half of 2013 due to a lingering back injury, but in the other 4 seasons since 2010, the workhorse has only missed a total of 6 games. Foster played 13 of the 16 regular season games in 2014, and ended the year as the #5 RB in the NFL. Foster totaled 1373 yards from scrimmage and scored 13 TDs. UPDATE: It didn’t take Foster long to get injured! Out at least 8 weeks of regular season. Alfred Blue, a 6’2″ 223 pound running back drafted by the Texans in the 2014 sixth round, is Foster’s back-up.
WRs– There aren’t many wide receivers who spend their entire career with one team, but WR Andre Johnson could be a guy that joins that elite group. Johnson was drafted by the Texans third overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, he is second all-time in NFL history in receiving yards per game trailing only Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. He holds nearly every Texans receiving record. The Texans have expressed a strong desire that Andre Johnson retire a Texan, and hopefully he does. 1st rounder in the 2013 draft, WR DeAndre Hopkins is now the #1 wide receiver in Houston and ended the past season as #14 among all WRs. The Texans have a lot of young wide receivers on their roster right now, and some of them have to step it in 2015, or Houston needs to find some new WRs that will. UPDATE: Texans release Andre Johnson, who then signed w/ Indy. Texans sign former Jag WR Cecil Shorts. With Houston’s 3rd pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, they selected 6’2″ WR Jaelen Strong who will battle newly-signed WR Cecil Shorts for the starting position opposite WR DeAndre Hopkins.
TEs– Like Green Bay, Baltimore and New England, Houston has always been an offense that has incorporated a big, sure-handed tight end into the play-calling. (TE Owen Daniels comes to mind.) The Texans have drafted a tight end in 3 of their last 5 NFL drafts. TE Garrett Graham, drafted in 2010, was the 49th ranked TE in the NFL in 2014, with only 197 yards and 1 TD. HC O’Brien might just be a guy who’s tight ends don’t play a significant role in any offense.
K– Randy Bullock was selected by the Houston Texans in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft, becoming the first kicker ever drafted by the team. In 2013, Bullock became the first NFL kicker since 1985 to have a field goal percentage less than 62 percent with at least 20 attempts. K Bullock rebounded in 2014, successfully hitting 30 of 35 field goals, including 6 out of 6 in Week 16.
DEF– One of the biggest stories of the 2014 NFL season, was the dominating, week after week performance of J J Watt, AP’s Defensive Player of the Year. Watt became the first defensive lineman to score five touchdowns in a season in a season since 1944. Watt scored 3 TDs on offensive and 2 on defense. As a team, the Houston defense ranked #4 in the NFL for 2014. Only the 49ers and the Browns had more INTs. Unlike some teams who’s defense are being dismantled by free agency, most of Houston’s key defensive players will be returning for the 2015. UPDATE: Signed FS Rahim Moore and former Patriot NT Vince Wilfork.
2014 Houston Fantasy Surprises– J J Watt’s 5 touchdowns. When Arian Foster plays, he averages 22.9 touches per game which is still the 4th-highest workload in the league. Andre Johnson only scoring 1 TD from Week One to Week 13, and only 3 total for 2014.
2015 Free Agents that Houston Needs to Address– QB Ryan Mallett (re-signed)- OT Derek Newton (re-signed)- DE Ryan Pickett- OL Brooks Reed Signed w/ Atlanta)- CB Kareem Jackson (resigned)- S Kendrick Lewis (Signed w/ Baltimore)
2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of Houston is at quarterback, corner back, and at wide receiver. The Texan’s first pick doesn’t comes until the 16th selection of the first round, so it’s unlikely they’ll address the QB position unless one of the top 3 QBs drops that far in the upcoming NFL Draft (QB), shoring up their secondary is a top priority for Houston (CB) and 3 of Houston’s last 4 drafted wide receivers have not turned out to be play-makers, so they may address this position again (WR). UPDATE: Houston’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- HOUSTON’S DRAFT
Did You Know– JJ Watt’s contract made him the NFL’s highest paid non-quarterback player in the NFL? Prior to the start of the 2014 season, JJ Watt agreed to a six-year contract extension, worth $100 million, $31 million he received at signing and he will receive $21 million at the start of the 2016 season if he is still on the roster. He will be!
All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS
Team Home Page: www.houstontexans.com