Overview of Madden Teams - Houston Texans
The fall of the Houston Texans from one of the AFC's premier teams down to the first overall pick (pass rusher Jadaveon Clowney), until now - just missing out on a wildcard spot, has been an interesting ride for fans. Quarterback has been a major reason for this fall, as has the coaching. The roster is solid, and is capable of good things online. Franchise-wise, this should be a playoff team in a season or two if a franchise passer can be found.
Quarterback - This is one of the weakest positions on the team. Out of the six quarterbacks (yes, there are six passers on this team), the only two who appear to be talented enough to lead this team are Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Mallet. Fitzpatrick (31 years old) has a noodle arm, with 81 throw power, but has an 86 in short accuracy to go along with 74 medium accuracy. Mallet (26) the other hand has an absolute cannon with 98 power, to go along with 79 short accuracy and 83 medium accuracy. Of the two, I would start Mallet at quarterback. Neither player would be my franchise passer, personally and I would play Ryan Mallet as a placeholder while I scout the class of rookie quarterbacks.
Running Backs - Arian Foster is quickly approaching that dreaded age 30 for running backs (28), but he is still a top 10 runner in the league (93 overall) and has 89 speed, a very good truck rating of 92, and a great carrying rating of 95. He is a good workhorse running back, and can carry the load as well as anyone in the league. 23 year old Alfred Blue is a solid option to split carries with him. With a 90 carrying, and 84 trucking it more than makes up for his 86 speed - although his 79 injury is reason to be cautious. Jay Prosch at fullback (22 years old, 73 overall), is very balanced in his game. He can block (80 run blocking), run with the ball (79 speed, 74 carrying), or catch it out of the backfield when needed (72 catching).
Wide Receivers - Andre Johnson may be 33 years old, but he is still a solid number one option at wide out. His 85 route running may not be the best in the league (although it's still very solid), but his catch in traffic is tremendous (94), and his catching is good as well (91). His partner in crime on the opposite side, DeAndre Hopkins may be the better option, however, as he already has better ratings (or at least the same) in all three of those categories (87 route running, 94 catch in traffic, and 92 catching). Hopkins should be the top receiver in Houston, and if not this year, then next year for sure. I would place 24 year old Devier Posey in the slot, to utilize his 75 catch, and 83 catch in traffic ratings. Despite his measley 68 overall, I think Posey is the answer at the three spot. After Alan Bonner (74 catch, 84 catch in traffic), the quality of depth for this position basically disappears.
Tight End - Both Garrett Graham and Ryan Griffin are solid options to start at tight end in this offense. With ratings of 79 catching and 80 catch in traffic, I would start Graham at this position (compared to 73 and 72, respectively). Griffin can still make for a very solid backup, and great option for two tight end sets, however.
Offensive Line - This line is very talented, and relatively young, which are two things you would love to hear about any positional group. Duane Brown (29 years old) is a solid 93 at the left tackle spot, Ben Jones (25) is a 77 at left guard, center Chris Myers is the oldest starter along the line (32), yet still can play - with an 83 rating. Brandon Brooks (25) is a good fit at right guard, with an 84 overall, and right tackle Derek Newton (26) possesses an 83 overall. Depth is in question, however, as only three backups are at a 70 or higher (right tackle Tyson Clabo has a 77, right guard David Quessenberry has a 73, and rookie left guard Xavier Su'a-filo has a 74).
Defensive Line - JJ Watt is an absolute monster on the line, and is (in my opinion) the best defensive player in all of football. He can stop the run, rush the passer, and even swat down passes like a defensive back (hence the nickname, "JJ Swat"). Jadaveon Clowney is technically a right outside linebacker, but for the sake of this article, he will play defensive end*. He is a great compliment to Watt on the right side, and with his 88 speed, should be a menace to opposing quarterbacks on sundays. Tim Jamison and Jared Crick provide good depth, should they need to step in. Ageing veteran Ryan Pickett (34 years old, 78 overall) is a solid placeholder on the interior, while rookie Louis Nix III gets adjusted to the pro game. Pickett is a serviceable starter, but won't be able to generate any kind of pass rush from up the middle (at least, not alone). Nix will take over, and use his 92 block shed, and 89 tackle ratings to help this line become one of the most feared in the league.
Linebackers - This group is decent, yet has solid depth. Brooks Reed (79, 27) takes the left side, with John Simon (71, 24) as his backup. Reed has decent speed (81) and good tackling abilities (84 at both tackling and hit power). On the opposite side, 24 year old Whitney Mercilus (78) makes his presence felt, with 81 tackle and 85 hit power. He is a great choice to build this linebacking core around for the future, and he has Simon backing him up as well. In the middle, Brian Cushing (86, 27) leads this group into battle, with Akeem Dent (75, 26) backing him up, which actually isn't a bad pairing, should you run a 3-4 defense. Cushing has solid athleticism, with 83 speed and agility, 87 tackle, and 89 hit power. He is a great leader, and is the quarterback of this defense.
Cornerbacks - Veteran Jonathan Joseph (88) and 26 year old Kareem Jackson (83) should be starting on the outsides, with Darryl Morris (72, 23 years old) in the slot. Joseph's 90 man coverage and 87 zone coverage will allow him to cover some of the leagues best receivers, and Jackson's 82 man coverage and 89 zone coverage will do the same as the number two guy. Morris only has 79 man coverage, so he wouldn't likely be able to keep up with another teams second option - although his 83 zone coverage is solid. Charles James and AJ Bouye can back up those two nicely.
Safety - 26 year old former Chief Kendrick Lewis (80) should battle veteran Danieal Manning (78, 32) for the starting free safety job. Manning is considerably faster (93 speed, to an 83), and has slightly better awareness. Manning can also catch better (70 to a 63), but Lewis has better tackling abilities (74 tackle, 86 hit power compared to 65 in both of those categories), and slightly better zone coverage. I would prefer Lewis but not by much, however, as I would rather see good tackling and zone coverage in my safeties (other than that, it is a really close competition). DJ Swearinger (79 overall, 24 years old) doesn't have great speed, at an 82, but he makes up for it with his 68 catch, 72 tackle, 89 hit power, and 76 zone coverage. He is a solid starter, and I wouldn't bother changing anything at strong safety.
Summary - This Texans team is on the rise. Should Houston get a franchise quarterback, they could make a run in the AFC South, although Ryan Mallet is good enough to start during online games. Their other needs (running back depth, wide receiver depth, offensive line depth, defensive tackle, and cornerback depth) should be addressed in the draft or free agency - although a great madden player should be able to mask those deficiencies with his user skills. Watch out for this team, as they are underrated with the potential to crack the top 10.