The 2011 season was the best in the Houston Texans brief franchise history. In week 14 they clinched their first AFC South Division, in no small part benefiting from Peyton Manning’s absence, and it was also their first playoff berth.
They brought in defesnsive specialist and former Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips to install his famed 3-4 defense. This Top 5 NFL defense was 3rd in opponent’s passing yards and 4th in opponent’s rushing yards. They did most of this without former #1 overall draft pick defensive end Mario Williams who missed most of the season with injuries.
The offense wasn’t quite as thriving in years pass, but they had the second best rushing offense in the NFL averaging 153 yards on the ground per game. At one point Houston was playing their third string quarterback after injuries to Matt Schaub forced T.J. Yates into the game. The Texans’ showed great resiliency and fortitude in how they succeed in such an injury plagued season.
2011 Record: 10-6
- QB Case Keenum
- CB Alan Ball
- LB Bradie James
- DE Mario Williams
- QB Matt Leinart
- FB Lawrence Vickers
- OT Eric Winston
Offense: The team is not lacking in the offensive weapons category. They have a Top-5 running back and 1,000 yard rusher in Arian Foster, not to mention Ben Tate who rushed for 942 yards as well. Texans also have a Top-5 wide receiver in Andre Johnson and capable top tier quarterback in Matt Schaub. The question is whether the QB and WR can stay healthy and if Schaub and Johnson can, the Texans look poised to have a big year offensively.
Defense: The defense comes back ranking in the Top 5 against both the rush and the pass. The loss of DE Mario Williams needs to be forgotten, he missed 11 games last season and they were still successful in Wade Phillips 3-4 defense.
Coaching: This team made the playoffs and are looking for progression and advancing in the playoffs. If their stars can stay healthy this transition to elite team shouldn’t be a problem, especially in their division.
Breakout Player: J.J. Watt
2012 Prediction: 11-5
Overview: Even though the Colts aren’t getting Peyton Manning back, they got better this year with #1 draft pick quarterback Andrew Luck, who impressed in his first preseason game. With that said Houston gets back a healthy Andre Johnson and a healthy Matt Schaub and that should make their offense more balanced and explosive. Houston is looking to build upon last year’s success and take advantage of a division that isn’t the NFL’s most talented and should have no problem winning a second division title and a playoff berth.