The Houston Texans finished the 2014 at second place in the AFC South with a record of 9-7, falling just shy of making their first playoff appearance since 2012. They have used the most of this offseason to make several key trades and draft picks that are focused on building upon their already defense led by three-time Pro Bowl linebacker J.J. Watt.
Graphic via sportsonearth
Last season, J.J. Watt put together another fantastic season, finishing second in the NFL in sacks with 20.5 and becoming the first player in NFL history to record twenty or more sacks in two separate seasons. He also finished second in the MVP voting behind Aaron Rodgers, breaking the record for most MVP votes for a defensive player with 13, shattering the old record of 3. Watt, who will be entering into his 5th season, has proven himself to be the most feared defensive player in the NFL.
The Texans made some big moves in this year’s draft with the clear goal of developing a young, solid defensive core for years to come. They selected cornerback Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest in the first round and inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney from Mississippi State in the second round. Defensive tackle Christian Covington from Rice and outside linebacker Reshard Cliett from South Florida were also drafted with a strong future defense in mind.
The role of free safety will be taken over by Rahim Moore, who the Texans acquired from Denver after the announcement of Danieal Manning’s retirement. They also obtained five-time Pro Bowler veteran Vince Wilfork from the New England Patriots who will replace Ryan Pickett as their starting nose tackle.
The offense for the Texans has also seen some major changes this offseason, as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was traded to the Jets and replaced by Brian Hoyer. Hoyer, who served his first full season as the starting quarterback for the Browns in 2014, will be looking to make a name for himself with his new Houston offense. He will be joined by fellow new coming wide receiver Cecil Shorts III from Jacksonville. Rookie Wide receivers Jaelen Strong (Arizona State) and Keith Mumphery (Michigan State) were selected in this past draft to add more depth to their offense, while Arian Foster, who rushed for 1,246 in 2014 will be entering into his seventh season as the Texans’ starting running back.
Head coach Bill O’Brien will be joined on the sideline this season with several new coaches including Paul Pasqualoni as the new defensive line coach, Mike Devlin as the new offensive line coach and Pat O’Hara as the new offensive assistant. Other changes include moving Anthony Pleasant from strength and conditioning assistant to defensive assistant.
The Texans will host the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, August 15 to kick off their preseason, followed by another home match against the Denver Broncos on Saturday, August 22. With new quarterback Brian Hoyer, and several offseason moves to strengthen their already impressive defense, the Texans look to be a dominant force in the AFC. If they can remain healthy, there is no reason why they shouldn’t have a legitimate shot at the postseason.
Graphic via hiphopsince1987