2014 Team Needs: Houston Texans
At the end of the 2012 season there were questions about the Houston Texans. Chiefly what could they do to take the next step and go from a team making the playoffs, to a team winning it all.
Suffice to say at the end of the 2013 season very different questions are being asked.
The head coach replaced, the team holding the first overall pick in the draft, and a once exciting roster now looking more than a little lacking in talent. But what are the biggest team needs, and how can a team with a projected $3.4m in cap room make them.
Potential Cap Casualties
The first thing the team will need to do is trim the roster and here we offer some quick fire suggestions using contract data provided by www.overthecap.com.
– Say goodbye to Matt Schaub. He’s not the answer and there’s $3.6m saved there and then.
– Decide if Danieal Manning is a guy you want to build a secondary around, and if not trim the fat by $4.5m. The team coped well enough in the backend without him that he’s expendable.
– Owen Daniels is a fine tight end, but his injury history means $4.5m is money the team should try and recoup via a contract renegotiation.
Three steps that would save around $13m, giving them some room to operate now and setting the stage for a potential blockbuster deal for J.J. Watt that is only going to get bigger the longer they wait.
You don’t need to look at the numbers to know this is a problem area. But let’s look at them anyway, because sometimes it’s fun to see stats and the eye test getting along.
|QB||PFF Grade||Acc%||Acc% Under Pressure||Acc% Deep Passes|
|Matt Schaub||38th (42)||29th (41)||25th (41)||22nd (40)|
|Case Keenum||33rd (42)||37th (41)||33rd (41)||1st (40)|
Outside of the rather odd fact that no QB was as accurate on the deep ball as Keenum, it doesn’t make good reading. Schaub is a spent force that won’t push this team where it needs to go in the long term and Keenum display the kind of pocket presence that is a long way from what you want in a QB. It’s no surprise that 62.4% of his dropbacks saw him hold the ball longer than 2.6 seconds, fourth highest in the league (Schaub by comparison was at 49.6% for 23rd highest).
Free agent fix: There isn’t one. Unless you decide that Mike Vick is a guy you can build an offense around, but that is incredibly short sighted, and with a new head coach in town they’re best off drafting a quarterback to start from Day 1. Transitional phases tend to take time.
Earl Mitchell is set to become a free agent and currently the only man capable of manning the spot (presuming they run a 3-4) is Terrell McClain. Excuse us if that thought doesn’t fill us with joy. Right now the once vaunted defense is in a state of flux. They could switch away from the 3-4 base and dime sub package defense that Wade Phillips used, so thin they are at all linebacker spots and along the defensive line outside of Watt. In any case they’ll need some size up front, and preferably someone who can be more than a base downs player.
Free agent fix: They might find themselves taken a gamble on more position flexible players, so a name like Vance Walker appeals. He’s unlikely to cost an arm and a leg and a solid two-year deal might appeal to a player who is coming off a prove it type deal in Oakland.
Joe Mays and Daryl Sharpton are set for free agency, and Brian Cushing is coming back from another serious injury. If they stick with a 3-4 that leaves Mike Mohamed and Jeff Tarpinian as aids to Cushing, with the two combining for 226 career snaps. If the team, and I use this word again, wants to be more flexible with what they can do on defense they need to find a solid hand capable of playing every down.
Free agent fix: You need someone you know will be healthy so that rules out Desmond Bishop, while Karlos Dansby is likely too pricey a get despite his ability to play on every down and in multiple schemes. Instead, you’re gambling a bit on a low risk/ high reward player and that man might just be a Kavell Conner type who had a nice cameo as part of the Colts’ nickel defense.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled