2015 NFL Season Preview- Houston Texans
Houston went from being the worst team in football, to being one game short of a wildcard spot.
Offensively, the team had problems with keeping one quarterback under center. Ryan Fitzpatrick played we well before suffering a fractured tibia. The team traded for Ryan Mallet who started two games before landing IR with a torn pectoral muscle. Case Keenum and Tom Savage played the remainder of the season. Running back Arian Foster returned from back surgery to rush for over 1,200 yards and score 13 touchdowns while being named to his fourth pro bowl. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins surpassed Andre Johnson as the team's big play threat catching 76 balls for over 1,200 yards and six touchdowns. The offensive line stayed healthy and played well giving up the fourth fewest sacks in the league and left tackle Duane Brown made his third pro bowl.
Defensive end J.J. Watt became the most dominant defender in the league. He became the first player in NFL history to have at least 20 sacks in multiple seasons and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the second time and a unanimous All-Pro selection. He even saw time on offense catching three touchdowns from the tight end spot. The linebackers played the run well and were solid in coverage, but they didn't put any pressure on the quarterback. The secondary helped set a team record with 34 takeaways but also allowed 28 touchdown passes.
The rookie class was a big disappointment. Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney only managed seven tackles because of a knee injury. Guard Xavier Su'a-Filo's was a waste because the team tried to make him a tackle. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz was a good blocker, but not the receiving threat Houston needed him to be. Nose tackle Loius Nix III was supposed to be a day one starter but landed on injured reserve with a hurt knee and hand.
Texans 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 24th
NFL Rank- 5th
NFL Rank- 21st
NFL Rank- 10th
NFL Rank- 17th
NFL Rank- 16th
After finishing the year 9-7, head coach Bill O'Brien saw the moment as bitter sweet for his expectations of the season. Houston's goal for this season is the Super Bowl and O'Brien will see anything other than that as a failure.
Notable Additions- QB Brian Hoyer, RB Chris Polk, WR Cecil Shorts, WR Nate Washington, NT Vince Walford, FS Rahim Moore
Notable Departures- QB Case Keenum, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR Andre Johnson, WR DeVier Posey, NT Ryan Pickett, LB Brooks Reed, FS Kendrick Lewis, SS D.J. Swearinger
J.J. Watt Highlights
2015 NFL Draft
Houston held the 16th overall pick and had many positions to address. Primarily at quarterback, wide receiver, and cornerback.
They had four quarterbacks play throughout the season. Houston needs a difference maker who can help them beat the best teams. Whether that be Ryan Mallett or someone else.
Houston has been lacking a true slot receiver for years. They need to develop a player has quickness to go with great hands and knows how to utilize the middle of the field.
Kareem Jackson was able to be resigned but the defense needs another physical corner has a good combination of size and speed.
The team ended up selecting Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson with the 16th overall pick. Johnson has natural cover ability and a good lean frame but is occasionally over aggressive in coverage. The pick was questionable as Johnson was seen as a third round prospect and there was several higher rated cornerbacks left on the board.
Houston also notably selected Mississippi State middle linebacker Benardrick McKinney in the second round and Arizona State wide receiver Jalen Strong in the third. McKinney was the best pass rushing middle linebacker in the draft but lacks ideal range. Strong was praised for the physical presence he brought to the game but he fell to the third round because of a foot injury he endured during offseason workouts.
The Texans also acquired Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond as an undrafted free agent. Drummond has all of the intangibles needed to be a great safety but his lean body allows him to be boxed out by receivers.
Benardrick McKinney Highlights
What to Expect
This team was practically ready for the playoffs last year.
Houston needs to find out who their quarterback is. Ryan Mallet shows flashes, but he has to play more than two games. Jalen Strong has the potential to play outside or inside and the running game will be fine with an unchanged offensive line.
Bringing in Benardrick McKinney to the linebacker corps will give the group a rusher who can pressure quarterbacks up the middle. If Kevin Johnson starts next season, that will likely force Johnathan Joseph to the nickel corner giving the defense three remarkable cover men.
With the questions this team has at quarterback, I don't see this team taking the AFC South crown away from Indianapolis this year but they do have enough talent for them to be a wildcard team.
Best record they can hope for: 9-7