Sunday, December 29, 2013
Texans' draft slot should excite next coach
By Tania Ganguli
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The sentence caught me off guard as Houston Texans' center Chris Myers said it.
"I don't even know my certainty of staying on the team so it's something I'm going to go with day in and day out," said Myers, a Pro Bowler last season, who could be headed back to Hawaii as an alternate this year. "... It's the NFL and that's the business. The new regime that comes through, they can clean house."
Myers isn't in any danger of being released, but his words spoke to an uncomfortable fact about a new coaching staff for players. They don't know what that staff will want, they don't know who that staff will want, they don't know what that staff will want of them.
When coaches change, schemes change -- even subtly sometimes -- and the personnel on the franchise has to adjust accordingly.
It's a lot easier to do that when you're drafting first in every round.
The Texans secured that right with Sunday's loss to the Tennessee Titans. That's a great way to start plugging the holes that became apparent this season.
The Texans started 2013 thinking they had the talent to be an elite team.
"I think I'd be ignorant if I said after  losses we're still the same team and still a very good team," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "We had some major things go wrong this year. We had some major letdowns. Obviously when you lose this many in a row, you have to fix something. That's what we've got to find. We've got to find what to fix."
He's talking about himself and players on the team, but the bulk of the fixing responsibility will lie with those who build the roster. Even if the Texans aren't as talented as they once thought, the repairs are easier with the right tools.
Having the first pick should make Houston a more attractive destination for the next head coach.
They'll get back defensive stalwarts such as inside linebacker Brian Cushing and safety Danieal Manning. They should keep their corners in tact to focus on rebuilding the defensive front, which could lose both end Antonio Smith and nose tackle Earl Mitchell. They'll need to help their pass rush, which they tried to do last season with the ill-advised selection of Sam Montgomery.
Offensively, you could see David Quessenberry, a sixth-round draft pick back in April, slide into Wade Smith's role at left guard if Smith doesn't get re-signed and a change at right tackle. They'll have to address running back, again, with the likely loss of backup Ben Tate to free agency. And at tight end comes a decision about the future of tight end Owen Daniels, who will enter the final year of his contract next season.
This isn't a franchise with a lot of cap space to fix its problems in free agency. But it is a franchise that will have first dibs on rookies to add.
Building through the draft is usually much more fruitful long-term.