Midseason Report: Houston Texans
November, 6, 2013
By Tania Ganguli | ESPN.com
The Houston Texans' season hasn't gone as they'd hoped after two consecutive years as AFC South champions. Nearly every unit has played well at times, but they've all cost the team in their own ways, too.
The result is a 2-6 record that is shocking to many people in the building.
The Texans haven't admitted defeat on the season yet, but time is running out to turn it around. Here's a look at how each unit has played so far.
GRADING THE HOUSTON TEXANS
|Quarterbacks||Pick-sixes aside, quarterback Matt Schaub didn't play as poorly as his detractors would have you think -- aside from the game in San Francisco when he struggled from beginning to end. Case Keenum injected some energy into the team and opened up the passing game. He's showing a lot of promise and playing clean games but still making the mistakes you'd expect from a guy with only two NFL starts.|
|Running Backs||Can't say enough about what the running back Ben Tate is playing through right now with his four broken ribs that are making it hard to laugh and breathe. Starter Arian Foster has been plagued by injury. He had his best game against the St. Louis Rams when he had nearly 200 all-purpose yards and averaged 7.1 yards per carry. Still, the Texans have only two rushing touchdowns this season.|
|Wide Receivers||Andre Johnson had one of the best games of his career on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts with 229 yards and three touchdown receptions. They were his first three touchdown catches this season. Johnson's production dramatically improved with Keenum at the helm and the Texans' play calling stretching the field more.|
|Tight Ends||When the Texans' red-zone offense was working well in their first two games, it was through tight ends Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham. Even without Daniels, who is on short-term injured reserve with a fractured fibula, rookie Ryan Griffin has played well on offense and special teams.|
|Offensive Line||It's difficult to grade this unit as a whole because there have been dramatically different performances from different spots. Injuries have impacted this unit significantly. Left guard Wade Smith finally looked healthy against the Colts and played really well because of it. Left tackle Duane Brown, right guard Brandon Brooks center Chris Myers have played well. The biggest liability has been right tackle Derek Newton, who has been better at run blocking than pass protection.|
|Defensive Line||The production has dropped from last season when J.J. Watt led the league in sacks. They've had some strong moments, especially in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts. All three starters on the defensive line have talent.|
|Linebackers||There's again a discrepancy between parts of this position. The inside linebackers have played better than the outside linebackers, even after Brian Cushing was lost for the season. Joe Mays has been an excellent pickup for the Texans. He has anchored the unit.|
|Secondary||Ed Reed played only 52 percent of the team's defensive snaps against the Colts. He hasn't made the impact the Texans hoped for when they signed him; his bar is higher than most players'. The unit has given up some big plays and costly penalties. Not all of those are entirely their fault, but it's still been a problem for the defense.|
|Special Teams||The Texans haven't gotten what they've needed out of this unit from really anyone other than punter Shane Lechler, who has been phenomenal. Their returns haven't been great and kicker Randy Bullock has really struggled. He has made 61.9 percent of his field goals.|
|Coaching||Penalties and mental mistakes were a big part of the Texans' struggles in their losing streak. On the other hand, the coaching staff eventually made a gutsy call to go with their third-string quarterback. While the move hasn't led to wins, the team has improved.|