2006 Houston Texans Preview

Before I start ripping the Texans for passing on Reggie Bush, let me say that I genuinely like new head coach, Gary Kubiak and I think he will be successful at some point in his tenure in Houston.

However, that certainly won’t be this season – or even next – and Kubiak and the rest of the Texans organization is going to have plenty of time to hear all about how they lest the electrifying Bush slip right through their fingers for defensive end, Mario Williams, who may or may not be “the next great defensive lineman.”

Here’s the skinny on the Houston Texans and the many challenges they face as Kubiak tries to get this team just to the level of respectability.

I like David Carr a lot – and so do football fields all across the NFL. Carr has every intangible that it takes to be a winning quarterback in the NFL, unfortunately for him, for the majority of his career, he’s been lying flat on his back after his offensive line usually lets an onslaught of defenders blow by them on the way to forcing Carr to eat dirt.

Now, however, Carr will have a fine offensive mind in Kubiak to help guide him along. Now, if only the Texans can get some competent blocking from their offensive line. The Texans have a viable backup in veteran Sage Rosenfels who is a guy who always seems to get the job done when given playing time. The truth however, for the Texans is that Carr will only go as far as his offensive line allows him.

Running Backs
When the Texans decided to pass up Reggie Bush in the draft, I think they made a mistake of epic proportions that could come back to haunt them for years to come.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Domanick Davis a lot, it’s just that it’s not everyday that you have a chance to grab a player who could possibly be one of the greatest of all-time.

Davis however, is a competent veteran who knows how to get the job done. If Davis goes down though, the Texans could be in some serious trouble.

Second-year player, Vernand Morency, rookie Wali Lundy and veteran free agent and Houston native Antowain Smith, who doesn’t have much gas left in his tank, will back up Davis âÂ?¦ whoopee.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
The Texans pulled off a smart move by acquiring veteran, Eric Moulds who will team up with Andre Johnson to form a very good pair of receivers. Beyond these two, Houston could be in trouble. Kevin Walter (who?) will be the third receiver while the unheralded Mark Bruener, Jeb Putzier, Bennie Joppru and Ben Steele fight for the starting tight end position. (yea!)

Offensive Linemen
This has been the Texans biggest problem since their inception. This however, will be the year that the winds of change will blow through this inept unit. It appears as if Seth Wand will start at at left tackle, Chester Pitts at left guard, Mike Flanagan at center, Steve McKinney at right guard and Zach Wiegert at right tackle. Third-round draft picks Charles Spencer and Eric Winston will also compete for time at tackle.

Houston had better pray that one or two of these players turn out to be legitimate NFL starters or they will be in the same boat they’ve been in forever. If Kubiak were smart, he probably should have reached out to some retired Hall of Fame NFL offensive linemen to limp their way into Texans training camp and show these youngsters how it’s really done.

Defensive Linemen
The addition of Williams and free agent Anthony Weaver should immediately help the Texans up front. Veteran defensive tackles Seth Payne and Robaire Smith are decent run stuffers, that should prosper on pass plays a little more this season because of the presence of Williams. Antwan Peek and Jason Babin will come in to fill out the defensive line rotation.
I am going on record right now to say that, Williams will face enormous – and unjustified – pressure – and comparisons – if Bush starts making highlight reel plays on a weekly basis. Hopefully, Williams will emerge from this unscathed.

Shantee Orr, the team’s sack leader last season, is back on the strong side, with Morlon Greenwood starting on the other side and rookie DeMeco Ryans backing them up. At middle linebacker, the Texans will start veteran, Sam Cowart at least until Kailee Wong returns from a knee surgery that could keep him out approximately eight weeks.

Defensive Backs
The Texans’ seven picks last season, were the second worst in the entire league last year and may not be much better in 2006. The Texans will start an unheralded safeties, C.C. Brown and Glenn Earl along with corners, Dunta Robinson and Demarcus Faggins. Veteran cornerback, Philip Buchannon will be the third corner and nickel back for this group, whose best player, Robinson, has Pro Bowl potential.

Special Teams
Pro Bowl returner Jerome Mathis, who took two returns “to the house” last season, is back, which is the good news.
The bad?

So is kicker, Kris Brown, who missed five field goals under 40 yards last season. Punter Chad Stanley will also return and should be better with more experience in 2006. The Texans punt return situation is tenuous at best.

Let’s be honest here. If Kubiak were the second coming f Vince Lombardi, he wouldn’t win with this team. However, I think he will clearly establish a new mindset and direction for this franchise, which, for all intents and purposes, has been totally clueless since its creation.

If Kubiak can get this team to win six games this season, it will be a major accomplishment that he should be able to build on in 2007.

All I know is, I’d be a lot happier with Reggie Bush in my backfield than Mario Williams as my defensive end, but hey, that’s just me.

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