<
>

Five questions facing the Houston Texans this offseason

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans finished their season 9-7 and 0-1 in the playoffs after a 30-0 blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Here's a look at five questions facing the Texans heading into the offseason.

Who is the quarterback of the future? Brian Hoyer was a major part of the Texans' debacle against the Chiefs (four interceptions and one lost fumble), but his performance really emphasized the Texans' need to find a solution at the position. The Texans had constant questions at the position, even when Hoyer was healthy. They yo-yoed between Hoyer and Ryan Mallett at the start of the season and became the first team since 1950 to have four different quarterbacks win a game in the same season and make the playoffs. It's fine when the defense can pick up the offense, but when the turnovers become as plentiful as they were Saturday, there's not much the defense can do.

What is their plan at running back? All things considered, the Texans did OK this season in recovering from Arian Foster's torn groin and torn Achilles. They used a combination of Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes, Akeem Hunt and Chris Polk to run the ball. From Week 10 onward, the Texans running game ranked seventh in the NFL. They would be wise, though, to find someone who can be an every-down back and offer the same production as Foster did, or close. A solution could come in the draft, but their need at quarterback could complicate that.

Will the Texans re-sign Brandon Brooks? The Texans' right guard becomes a free agent in March if the Texans don't re-sign him. Brooks has been a solid player for the Texans and could help the team's continuity going forward. They opted not to re-sign him last offseason, though, and that's often a sign that the Texans are unsure about sticking with a player.

How much are they willing to pay DeAndre Hopkins? For all this team put its best offensive player through this season, the Texans would be wise to lock up Hopkins as quickly as possible. Hopkins became the first player in NFL history to catch 100-yard games from four different quarterbacks. He saved all the quarterbacks in various ways. He is an important piece of the Texans' offense and right now their only marquee skill players. He certainly wouldn't be the first receiver to face quarterback turmoil, but the Texans typically extend players the year before their contract years.

What is the team's power structure? The team needs a clearer power structure at the top. Currently, it seems as if Rick Smith and Bill O'Brien collaborate. Disagreements are mediated by owner Bob McNair, who should not be refereeing between the two. Either the general manager or the head coach should have final say so that a consensus isn't always necessary. Disagreements are a natural part of any working relationship, but bringing in the boss to mediate isn't a system that will work long-term.