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Found 391 results

  1. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Such is the familiar saying. Although, in the case of Houston Texans football, this saying truly applies. After finishing the season as the number 1 total defense in the NFL, the Texans have a deep core of talented, young players at each of the three levels of the defense. They have defensive line talent, as evidenced by former top pick Jadeveon Clowney, and rookie draft pick D.J. Reader, who played well for the team down the stretch. They have talent in the middle of their defense, with veteran Brian Cushing bringing leadership to a young group of budding defensive stars, led by pass rusher Whitney Mercilus and inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney. They have a deep secondary, led by veteran players in Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, and supplemented by young upstarts in former 1st round pick Kevin Johnson and breakout cornerback A.J. Bouye. It is the last of these names which is most notable, as Bouye is the one player on this list who is slated to hit free agency in March. For his part, Bouye may be the most important player in the defensive backfield. For one, he is a 25-year old cornerback with prototypical size (6’0, 191lbs), speed and coverage skills needed to defend division rivals possessing receivers such as T.Y. Hilton, Allen Robinson, and other top wide receivers. For another reason, he has proven to have a higher ceiling than veterans Jackson and Joseph, who are in the latter stages of their career. The Texans have recognized Bouye’s skills, and Head Coach Bill O’Brien has stated that he would love to have Bouye back in the fold. Bouye also has publicly stated that he would like to be back with the team. However, he is certainly going to be in high demand. After a breakout regular season campaign, Bouye recorded two interceptions in the playoffs. His prototypical frame and skills, combined with his age will certainly bring a large market for his services. Furthermore, recent history has taught us that teams are willing to spend, if not overspend, for young talent in free agency. The Texans have firsthand experience in spending for defensive back talent in free agency, as Johnathan Joseph was pried away from Cincinnati in 2011 on a 5-year deal worth almost $48 million, with $24 million guaranteed. In recent seasons, players like Cortland Finnegan, Brandon Carr, Aqib Talib, and Byron Maxwell have scored major paydays for their services at cornerback. With the potentially steep price tag in mind, the Texans should bite the bullet and re-sign Bouye. Paired with first-round draft pick Kevin Johnson, the Texans would have two cornerbacks locked down long-term, and could use Jackson and Joseph as depth, or even cut one of them for salary cap space to pursue help on the offensive side of the ball. If the team feels their window to win is right now, they could even leverage the potential salary cap space freed up to pursue a veteran starter at quarterback (Tony Romo, Philip Rivers) or to sign one of the top offensive lineman slated to hit the market (T.J. Lang, Kevin Zeitler). Either way, the team should first ensure they lock up their homegrown talent, and that list starts with A.J. Bouye. View full NFL news story
  2. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Such is the familiar saying. Although, in the case of Houston Texans football, this saying truly applies. After finishing the season as the number 1 total defense in the NFL, the Texans have a deep core of talented, young players at each of the three levels of the defense. They have defensive line talent, as evidenced by former top pick Jadeveon Clowney, and rookie draft pick D.J. Reader, who played well for the team down the stretch. They have talent in the middle of their defense, with veteran Brian Cushing bringing leadership to a young group of budding defensive stars, led by pass rusher Whitney Mercilus and inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney. They have a deep secondary, led by veteran players in Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, and supplemented by young upstarts in former 1st round pick Kevin Johnson and breakout cornerback A.J. Bouye. It is the last of these names which is most notable, as Bouye is the one player on this list who is slated to hit free agency in March. For his part, Bouye may be the most important player in the defensive backfield. For one, he is a 25-year old cornerback with prototypical size (6’0, 191lbs), speed and coverage skills needed to defend division rivals possessing receivers such as T.Y. Hilton, Allen Robinson, and other top wide receivers. For another reason, he has proven to have a higher ceiling than veterans Jackson and Joseph, who are in the latter stages of their career. The Texans have recognized Bouye’s skills, and Head Coach Bill O’Brien has stated that he would love to have Bouye back in the fold. Bouye also has publicly stated that he would like to be back with the team. However, he is certainly going to be in high demand. After a breakout regular season campaign, Bouye recorded two interceptions in the playoffs. His prototypical frame and skills, combined with his age will certainly bring a large market for his services. Furthermore, recent history has taught us that teams are willing to spend, if not overspend, for young talent in free agency. The Texans have firsthand experience in spending for defensive back talent in free agency, as Johnathan Joseph was pried away from Cincinnati in 2011 on a 5-year deal worth almost $48 million, with $24 million guaranteed. In recent seasons, players like Cortland Finnegan, Brandon Carr, Aqib Talib, and Byron Maxwell have scored major paydays for their services at cornerback. With the potentially steep price tag in mind, the Texans should bite the bullet and re-sign Bouye. Paired with first-round draft pick Kevin Johnson, the Texans would have two cornerbacks locked down long-term, and could use Jackson and Joseph as depth, or even cut one of them for salary cap space to pursue help on the offensive side of the ball. If the team feels their window to win is right now, they could even leverage the potential salary cap space freed up to pursue a veteran starter at quarterback (Tony Romo, Philip Rivers) or to sign one of the top offensive lineman slated to hit the market (T.J. Lang, Kevin Zeitler). Either way, the team should first ensure they lock up their homegrown talent, and that list starts with A.J. Bouye.
  3. Last March, Brock Osweiler signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans. His signing along with fellow free-agent signee Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins sparked thoughts of an offensive resurgence. With a 86.4 passer rating in 7 games starting for Denver, many GM's spanning the league felt the small sample size warranted a high price tag. Looking back, one must think Rick Smith wishes he hadn't done that. In 14 games this season with Houston, Osweiler posted an underwhelming 15-16 TD-INT ratio and 2,957 passing yards. The flashes of potential were certainly there, but more often than not, the former 2nd-round draft choice didn't play to expectations. After getting benched for Tom Savage in Week 15 and posting two underwhelming outings in the playoffs, he is falling out of favor with the fans and possibly the front office. Is Osweiler the franchise quarterback Houston desperately needs? The Texans have a few ways to address their quarterback situation this offseason: Cut Brock Osweiler and take a $25 million cap hit. Give him another season starting in hopes of major development. Select a top Quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft. Search for a QB in free agency for the second straight year. Whatever Rick Smith and Houston's front office decides, the 29th ranked passing offense must improve drastically if they hope to contend in an improving AFC South division. As this season has shown, elite defense alone is not enough for an NFL franchise to compete with the league's top offenses. All eyes are on Houston as Brock Osweiler's contract situation primes the Texans' offseason to-do list in 2017.
  4. Last March, Brock Osweiler signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans. His signing along with fellow free-agent signee Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins sparked thoughts of an offensive resurgence. With a 86.4 passer rating in 7 games starting for Denver, many GM's spanning the league felt the small sample size warranted a high price tag. Looking back, one must think Rick Smith wishes he hadn't done that. In 14 games this season with Houston, Osweiler posted an underwhelming 15-16 TD-INT ratio and 2,957 passing yards. The flashes of potential were certainly there, but more often than not, the former 2nd-round draft choice didn't play to expectations. After getting benched for Tom Savage in Week 15 and posting two underwhelming outings in the playoffs, he is falling out of favor with the fans and possibly the front office. Is Osweiler the franchise quarterback Houston desperately needs? The Texans have a few ways to address their quarterback situation this offseason: Cut Brock Osweiler and take a $25 million cap hit. Give him another season starting in hopes of major development. Select a top Quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft. Search for a QB in free agency for the second straight year. Whatever Rick Smith and Houston's front office decides, the 29th ranked passing offense must improve drastically if they hope to contend in an improving AFC South division. As this season has shown, elite defense alone is not enough for an NFL franchise to compete with the league's top offenses. All eyes are on Houston as Brock Osweiler's contract situation primes the Texans' offseason to-do list in 2017. View full NFL news story
  5. Days after their season-ending loss to the New England Patriots, the Houston Texans are already making changes to better themselves for next year. The team has reportedly mutually parted ways with offensive coordinator George Godsey. This comes on the heels of a season in which the Houston offense underperformed based on the expectations heading into the season. Godsey had been with the team since 2014, which was also when Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien was hired. O’Brien and Godsey have had experience working with each other, going back to their days coaching at Georgia Tech. The team was expected to have an improved offensive attack heading into 2016, as the team spent big money on free agents, particularly QB Brock Osweiler and RB Lamar Miller. They also allocated resources in the draft to address their lack of playmakers behind DeAndre Hopkins. The team spent their 1st round pick on WR Will Fuller, and later drafted converted QB Braxton Miller in the 3rd round to play WR. Bill O’Brien released a statement about George Godsey, saying, “I’m grateful for the tireless work ethic and contributions George (Godsey) has made to our team.” O’Brien and Godsey shared play-calling duties to end the season. However, with O’Brien likely returning for the 2017 season, Houston’s next offensive coordinator’s role in play-calling is still undetermined. Whomever the next offensive coordinator may be, the team will need to find a coach who can get better performances out of the offense. The team struggled with Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage under center week to week. The team had a 1,000-yard rusher in Lamar Miller, but the run game didn’t seem to have the same type of punch like it did when guys like Arian Foster were in the backfield. On the season, the team scored just 17.4 points per game, ranking 29th in the league, and finished 29th in total offense, averaging 314.7 yards per game. In 2015, the team was 19th in total offense. Look for the team to hire someone with experience in grooming quarterbacks, or even a guy currently on the staff, as the QB position was the part of the offense that was the most troublesome for the team this season. View full NFL news story
  6. J.J. Watt "Ahead of Schedule" in Injury Rehab

    Speaking at Monday’s end-of-season press conference with the media, Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien gave several updates on players, staff members, and the team. One of the players mentioned in the conference was All-Pro and two-time former Defensive Player of the Year in Defensive End J.J. Watt. The 27-year old missed all but three games in the 2016 season, as he recovered from back surgery. The Pro Bowler has had a few injuries in his career, and this latest injury was deemed the most significant of them all. However, Coach O’Brien gave an optimistic update on his star player’s status heading into the offseason, saying that Watt is ahead of schedule in his recovery. The team will certainly take any contributions from their face of the franchise pass rusher. After recording 69.0 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, 41 pass deflections, and an interception from 2012-2015, Watt recorded just 1.5 sacks and just 8 tackles in 2016. He was clearly hampered by his injury, which was something that he was suffering from during last offseason. If Watt can return to the field fully healthy next year, however, the team could be a force on defense. Already loaded with talent on defense with 2nd-team All-Pros in Linebackers Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney and Benardrick McKinney, along with the breakout performance of impending free-agent CB A.J. Bouye, the team has a good core of impact players. These players, along with veterans in LB Brian Cushing, CB Johnathan Joseph and young guys like CB Kevin Johnson ensure that the defense will remain a strength of the team going into 2017. All that’s left for the rest of the league to fear is a generational talent like J.J. Watt returning to the fold.
  7. Speaking at Monday’s end-of-season press conference with the media, Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien gave several updates on players, staff members, and the team. One of the players mentioned in the conference was All-Pro and two-time former Defensive Player of the Year in Defensive End J.J. Watt. The 27-year old missed all but three games in the 2016 season, as he recovered from back surgery. The Pro Bowler has had a few injuries in his career, and this latest injury was deemed the most significant of them all. However, Coach O’Brien gave an optimistic update on his star player’s status heading into the offseason, saying that Watt is ahead of schedule in his recovery. The team will certainly take any contributions from their face of the franchise pass rusher. After recording 69.0 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, 41 pass deflections, and an interception from 2012-2015, Watt recorded just 1.5 sacks and just 8 tackles in 2016. He was clearly hampered by his injury, which was something that he was suffering from during last offseason. If Watt can return to the field fully healthy next year, however, the team could be a force on defense. Already loaded with talent on defense with 2nd-team All-Pros in Linebackers Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney and Benardrick McKinney, along with the breakout performance of impending free-agent CB A.J. Bouye, the team has a good core of impact players. These players, along with veterans in LB Brian Cushing, CB Johnathan Joseph and young guys like CB Kevin Johnson ensure that the defense will remain a strength of the team going into 2017. All that’s left for the rest of the league to fear is a generational talent like J.J. Watt returning to the fold. View full NFL news story
  8. Days after their season-ending loss to the New England Patriots, the Houston Texans are already making changes to better themselves for next year. The team has reportedly mutually parted ways with offensive coordinator George Godsey. This comes on the heels of a season in which the Houston offense underperformed based on the expectations heading into the season. Godsey had been with the team since 2014, which was also when Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien was hired. O’Brien and Godsey have had experience working with each other, going back to their days coaching at Georgia Tech. The team was expected to have an improved offensive attack heading into 2016, as the team spent big money on free agents, particularly QB Brock Osweiler and RB Lamar Miller. They also allocated resources in the draft to address their lack of playmakers behind DeAndre Hopkins. The team spent their 1st round pick on WR Will Fuller, and later drafted converted QB Braxton Miller in the 3rd round to play WR. Bill O’Brien released a statement about George Godsey, saying, “I’m grateful for the tireless work ethic and contributions George (Godsey) has made to our team.” O’Brien and Godsey shared play-calling duties to end the season. However, with O’Brien likely returning for the 2017 season, Houston’s next offensive coordinator’s role in play-calling is still undetermined. Whomever the next offensive coordinator may be, the team will need to find a coach who can get better performances out of the offense. The team struggled with Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage under center week to week. The team had a 1,000-yard rusher in Lamar Miller, but the run game didn’t seem to have the same type of punch like it did when guys like Arian Foster were in the backfield. On the season, the team scored just 17.4 points per game, ranking 29th in the league, and finished 29th in total offense, averaging 314.7 yards per game. In 2015, the team was 19th in total offense. Look for the team to hire someone with experience in grooming quarterbacks, or even a guy currently on the staff, as the QB position was the part of the offense that was the most troublesome for the team this season.
  9. Jadeveon Clowney Named All-NFL By PFWA

    Though the Texans’ season ended in disappointment Saturday night against the New England Patriots, the team had several standout performers during the season. One of those players was recognized by the Pro Football Writers Association on Monday. Clowney was named to the Association’s All-NFL Team, and was the only Houston Texan to receive the honor. The annual list is revealed to give praise and recognition to guys who demonstrate some of the top performances and skills at their respective positions. Clowney’s award is well deserved, as he showed the team why they were right to invest the number one overall draft pick in him two seasons ago. In his first year playing healthy, Clowney blossomed in the absence of 2-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt. The young pass rusher recorded career highs across the board, and despite recording “just” 5.5 sacks in the regular season, proved a true difference maker for the team. Clowney also put the rest of the NFL on notice in the playoffs, as he recorded an acrobatic interception of Raider’s quarterback Connor Cook in the AFC Wild Card round, and laid a devastating hit on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the AFC Divisional game. Clowney’s presence, coupled with the outstanding performance of Whitney Mercilus, and the impending return of J.J. Watt, should cause offensive coordinators to lose plenty of sleep in the years to come.
  10. Though the Texans’ season ended in disappointment Saturday night against the New England Patriots, the team had several standout performers during the season. One of those players was recognized by the Pro Football Writers Association on Monday. Clowney was named to the Association’s All-NFL Team, and was the only Houston Texan to receive the honor. The annual list is revealed to give praise and recognition to guys who demonstrate some of the top performances and skills at their respective positions. Clowney’s award is well deserved, as he showed the team why they were right to invest the number one overall draft pick in him two seasons ago. In his first year playing healthy, Clowney blossomed in the absence of 2-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt. The young pass rusher recorded career highs across the board, and despite recording “just” 5.5 sacks in the regular season, proved a true difference maker for the team. Clowney also put the rest of the NFL on notice in the playoffs, as he recorded an acrobatic interception of Raider’s quarterback Connor Cook in the AFC Wild Card round, and laid a devastating hit on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the AFC Divisional game. Clowney’s presence, coupled with the outstanding performance of Whitney Mercilus, and the impending return of J.J. Watt, should cause offensive coordinators to lose plenty of sleep in the years to come. View full NFL news story
  11. The New England Patriots quest for a fifth Super Bowl title began Saturday night in a frigid Foxboro against the Houston Texans. Head coach Bill Belichick and his high-powered offense and stout defense welcomed the number one ranked defense out of Houston for an AFC Divisional Round matchup. With a trip to the AFC Championship next Sunday night on the line, the New England Patriots survived an onslaught brought on by an upset-hungry Texans team. The Patriots were whopping 17-point favorites against Houston and even though the final score was 34-16, the victory was not easy at all. The game got pretty ugly at times but the Patriots prevailed as the defense stepped up big time and the offense made the necessary plays to secure the Patriots sixth straight trip to the AFC Championship Game. Three Takeaways 1. Defense wins the game The New England Patriots’ defense was a problem at times during the year as they were lacking the killer instinct of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks. But, as the season came to a close the defense was riding a wave of momentum that carried into the postseason. The Patriots defense garnered three sacks on Brock Osweiler (Logan Ryan, Malcolm Brown and Rob Ninkovich) and three interceptions (Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon) which derailed the Texans chance of upsetting the Patriots in Foxboro. The Patriots also held the Texans top receivers out of the end zone and were exceptional on third down by holding the Texans to three of sixteen possible chances. 2. The offense can’t stumble anymore Yes, the Houston Texans had the number one ranked defense in the NFL and Jadeveon Clowney has been having a monster year but the Patriots offense could have played a little better. As a matter of fact, the Patriots played very well against the league’s top defense but the one area where they struggled was against the pass rush. Tom Brady did not look very comfortable in the pocket and he was hit very hard quite a few times. Julian Edelman, despite having a great game as he caught eight passes for 137 yards, dropped some key passes to convert on third down. But the biggest issue was definitely the offensive line who gave up two sacks on Tom Brady and did not keep him on his feet so he could distribute the ball to his playmakers. 3. Turnovers almost ended the Patriots season The Patriots have prided themselves as one of the most disciplined teams in the NFL and turnovers were hard to come by for New England. Yet on Saturday night, the Patriots committed three turnovers when Dion Lewis fumbled a kickoff which led to Houston points and Tom Brady threw two interceptions after throwing two in the regular season. These were just uncharacteristic mistakes that teams make against the Patriots but not the Patriots themselves. New England's victory on Saturday night was not pretty by a long shot but in the NFL and especially during the playoffs, a win is a win. But the Patriots will definitely need to play better when they host either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game this Sunday night in Foxboro.
  12. The New England Patriots quest for a fifth Super Bowl title began Saturday night in a frigid Foxboro against the Houston Texans. Head coach Bill Belichick and his high-powered offense and stout defense welcomed the number one ranked defense out of Houston for an AFC Divisional Round matchup. With a trip to the AFC Championship next Sunday night on the line, the New England Patriots survived an onslaught brought on by an upset-hungry Texans team. The Patriots were whopping 17-point favorites against Houston and even though the final score was 34-16, the victory was not easy at all. The game got pretty ugly at times but the Patriots prevailed as the defense stepped up big time and the offense made the necessary plays to secure the Patriots sixth straight trip to the AFC Championship Game. Three Takeaways 1. Defense wins the game The New England Patriots’ defense was a problem at times during the year as they were lacking the killer instinct of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks. But, as the season came to a close the defense was riding a wave of momentum that carried into the postseason. The Patriots defense garnered three sacks on Brock Osweiler (Logan Ryan, Malcolm Brown and Rob Ninkovich) and three interceptions (Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon) which derailed the Texans chance of upsetting the Patriots in Foxboro. The Patriots also held the Texans top receivers out of the end zone and were exceptional on third down by holding the Texans to three of sixteen possible chances. 2. The offense can’t stumble anymore Yes, the Houston Texans had the number one ranked defense in the NFL and Jadeveon Clowney has been having a monster year but the Patriots offense could have played a little better. As a matter of fact, the Patriots played very well against the league’s top defense but the one area where they struggled was against the pass rush. Tom Brady did not look very comfortable in the pocket and he was hit very hard quite a few times. Julian Edelman, despite having a great game as he caught eight passes for 137 yards, dropped some key passes to convert on third down. But the biggest issue was definitely the offensive line who gave up two sacks on Tom Brady and did not keep him on his feet so he could distribute the ball to his playmakers. 3. Turnovers almost ended the Patriots season The Patriots have prided themselves as one of the most disciplined teams in the NFL and turnovers were hard to come by for New England. Yet on Saturday night, the Patriots committed three turnovers when Dion Lewis fumbled a kickoff which led to Houston points and Tom Brady threw two interceptions after throwing two in the regular season. These were just uncharacteristic mistakes that teams make against the Patriots but not the Patriots themselves. New England's victory on Saturday night was not pretty by a long shot but in the NFL and especially during the playoffs, a win is a win. But the Patriots will definitely need to play better when they host either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game this Sunday night in Foxboro. View full NFL news story
  13. It’s no secret that this season, (as it is most seasons) the defense was the Texans team strength. As we head into the offseason, a shroud of uncertainty descends upon the team. Will Vince Wilfork return for one more season? How much of an improvement can a healthy J.J. Watt add to the best front seven in the league? Here's what we know so far. Rumors: Vince Wilfork has hinted at retirement since the postseason started, and the most likely course of action ends in him announcing his retirement this offseason. Wilfork has played thirteen seasons, eleven for the New England Patriots, and two for the Houston Texans. Wilfork only accounted for a total of 21 tackles this season, but his impact was more pronounced than the stat line would lead you to believe. Wilfork provided a heavy core to the Texans 3-4 defense by being an anchor up the middle of the field. Wilfork was often the subject of double teams, which alleviated the pressure on a stellar linebacker core anchored by Brian Cushing, leading to a disruptive Houston pass rush. Recap: 2016 was the year of the Texans defense. For the season, the team ranked second in total defense (290.0 YPG), fifth in pass yards allowed (209.0 YPG), and fifth in rushing yards allowed (81.0 YPG). Early in the season there was speculation into how well the unit would gel with two-time Pro Bowler and Defensive Player of the Year in J.J. Watt out with a season ending back injury. The defense exceeded expectations and carried the team, allowing for competitive play while the offense tried to figure out the quarterback situation. The success of the defense can be attributed to the breakout of four players at various points throughout the season. Jadeveon Clowney (LDE): After two seasons of injury Clowney finally proved why he was drafted no. 1 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Clowney posted an impressive 55 tackles this year and 6 sacks in his first fully healthy season. He was a dominating force off the edge and a thorn in the sides of quarterbacks and left tackles alike. Clowney also had his first career interception against Raiders' QB Connor Cook in the wildcard round of the playoffs. Whitney Mercilus (LB): Another first round pick in 2012, Mercilus found his dance partner with Jadeveon Clowney this season. Together the duo were a nearly unstoppable pass rushing force. Mercilus posted 64 tackles and 10.5 sacks this season. Mercilus also passed J.J. Watt for a franchise record 3 sacks this postseason. Benardrick McKinney (LB): A second round pick in 2015, McKinney posted 141 tackles and 5 sacks for the Texans in 2016. McKinney shored up the defense by controlling the edge on rush plays and taking advantage of Vince Wilfork’s presence to pressure quarterbacks and stop running backs in the backfield. A.J. Bouye (CB): An undrafted free agent signed to the roster in 2013, Bouye is slated to be a free agent this offseason. Due to a stellar performance, Bouye shouldn’t struggle to find a suitor if the Texans opt not to resign the 25-year old cornerback. Bouye posted 70 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 interceptions this season. Two of Bouye’s interceptions came during the postseason against the Raiders and Patriots. His performance was especially impressive as he helped the team overcome injuries to Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph. As the team reviews their performance in 2016, and looks forward to next season, they can find reason for optimism in the performance of their defense. View full NFL news story
  14. Offseason Primer: Texans Defense

    It’s no secret that defense was the Texans' strength during this season. As we head into the offseason, a shroud of uncertainty descends upon the team. Will Vince Wilfork return for one more season? How much of an improvement can a healthy J.J. Watt add to the best front seven in the league? Here's what we know so far. Rumors: Vince Wilfork has hinted at retirement since the postseason started, and the most likely course of action ends in him announcing his retirement this offseason. Wilfork has played thirteen seasons, eleven for the New England Patriots, and two for the Houston Texans. Wilfork only accounted for a total of 21 tackles this season, but his impact was more pronounced than the stat line would lead you to believe. Wilfork provided a heavy core to the Texans 3-4 defense by being an anchor up the middle of the field. Wilfork was often the subject of double teams, which alleviated the pressure on a stellar linebacker core anchored by Brian Cushing, leading to a disruptive Houston pass rush. Recap: 2016 was the year of the Texans defense. For the season, the team ranked second in total defense (290.0 YPG), fifth in pass yards allowed (209.0 YPG), and fifth in rushing yards allowed (81.0 YPG). Early in the season there was speculation into how well the unit would gel with two-time Pro Bowler and Defensive Player of the Year in J.J. Watt out with a season ending back injury. The defense exceeded expectations and carried the team, allowing for competitive play while the offense tried to figure out the quarterback situation. The success of the defense can be attributed to the breakout of four players at various points throughout the season. Jadeveon Clowney (LDE): After two seasons of injury Clowney finally proved why he was drafted no. 1 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Clowney posted an impressive 55 tackles this year and 6 sacks in his first fully healthy season. He was a dominating force off the edge and a thorn in the sides of quarterbacks and left tackles alike. Clowney also had his first career interception against Raiders' QB Connor Cook in the wildcard round of the playoffs. Whitney Mercilus (LB): Another first round pick in 2012, Mercilus found his dance partner with Jadeveon Clowney this season. Together the duo were a nearly unstoppable pass rushing force. Mercilus posted 64 tackles and 10.5 sacks this season. Mercilus also passed J.J. Watt for a franchise record 3 sacks this postseason. Benardrick McKinney (LB): A second round pick in 2015, McKinney posted 141 tackles and 5 sacks for the Texans in 2016. McKinney shored up the defense by controlling the edge on rush plays and taking advantage of Vince Wilfork’s presence to pressure quarterbacks and stop running backs in the backfield. A.J. Bouye (CB): An undrafted free agent signed to the roster in 2013, Bouye is slated to be a free agent this offseason. Due to a stellar performance, Bouye shouldn’t struggle to find a suitor if the Texans opt not to resign the 25-year old cornerback. Bouye posted 70 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 interceptions this season. Two of Bouye’s interceptions came during the postseason against the Raiders and Patriots. His performance was especially impressive as he helped the team overcome injuries to Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph. As the team reviews their performance in 2016, and looks forward to next season, they can find reason for optimism in the performance of their defense.
  15. With just a few hours remaining before the Houston Texans face off against the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional round, the team has declared their game-day inactives. The team declared QB Brandon Weeden, MLB Max Bullough, WR Wendell Williams, OG Josh Walker, DE Ufomba Kamalu, OLB John Simon and S Quintin Demps inactive for the team’s playoff game. The list isn’t all that surprising, but the team will be missing two depth players on their defense. Outside linebacker John Simon is a rotational pass rusher for the team and is a good run stopper. His loss will mean more pressure being placed on the team’s pass rushers, as they look to disrupt one of the hottest teams in the league. Additionally, the team will be without safety Quintin Demps. Demps hurt his hamstring in last weekend’s playoff win against the Oakland Raiders, and has played well for the team in the last few months. His absence will place more playing time on the plate of guys like Corey Moore, who recorded an interception in last week’s victory. As the team looks to pull off the upset, be sure to stay with Pro Football Spot for all the latest news surrounding the Houston Texans, and the rest of the NFL.
  16. With just a few hours remaining before the Houston Texans face off against the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional round, the team has declared their game-day inactives. The team declared QB Brandon Weeden, MLB Max Bullough, WR Wendell Williams, OG Josh Walker, DE Ufomba Kamalu, OLB John Simon and S Quintin Demps inactive for the team’s playoff game. The list isn’t all that surprising, but the team will be missing two depth players on their defense. Outside linebacker John Simon is a rotational pass rusher for the team and is a good run stopper. His loss will mean more pressure being placed on the team’s pass rushers, as they look to disrupt one of the hottest teams in the league. Additionally, the team will be without safety Quintin Demps. Demps hurt his hamstring in last weekend’s playoff win against the Oakland Raiders, and has played well for the team in the last few months. His absence will place more playing time on the plate of guys like Corey Moore, who recorded an interception in last week’s victory. As the team looks to pull off the upset, be sure to stay with Pro Football Spot for all the latest news surrounding the Houston Texans, and the rest of the NFL. View full NFL news story
  17. The emergence of young players in the NFL is unpredictable, to say the least. Each season features new faces making positive impacts on their respective teams. At the end of the day, the difference in talent between players in the NFL is minute. Though many young players, such as Ezekiel Elliot and Odell Beckham Jr., certainly play to the potential of their highly touted first-round status, an equal number of gifted athletes sneak past the watchful eyes of so-called draft gurus. A.J. Bouye is one of many recent undrafted free agents to make waves in the pros with his outstanding 2016 campaign. When Kevin Johnson went on injured reserve because of a foot injury at the same time that Johnathan Joseph's lung contusion kept him from playing, many thought the Houston Texans were bereft of talent in the secondary. But this notion proved foolish, as Bouye, 25, was playing excellent football. The Houston Texans finished number two in pass defense for the second consecutive year. According to Pro Football Focus, Bouye is the NFL's top rated cornerback this season, behind 16 pass deflections and three interceptions. His emergence as a top-level threat is remarkable, and a strong performance versus New England in the AFC Divisional Round could skyrocket the dollar amount on his upcoming contract. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season (whenever that may be). He could conceivably still re-sign with the team, but there is a genuine anticipation that he will depart Houston in search of a higher price tag. The Texans have a projected $25 million to spend in the offseason, and while Bill O'Brien would love to retain him, A.J. Bouye has performed in a way that could cause richer teams to overspend. Look for number 21 to make an impact in what is potentially his final game as a Texan, versus the Patriots on Saturday night.
  18. The emergence of young players in the NFL is unpredictable, to say the least. Each season features new faces making positive impacts on their respective teams. At the end of the day, the difference in talent between players in the NFL is minute. Though many young players, such as Ezekiel Elliot and Odell Beckham Jr., certainly play to the potential of their highly touted first-round status, an equal number of gifted athletes sneak past the watchful eyes of so-called draft gurus. A.J. Bouye is one of many recent undrafted free agents to make waves in the pros with his outstanding 2016 campaign. When Kevin Johnson went on injured reserve because of a foot injury at the same time that Johnathan Joseph's lung contusion kept him from playing, many thought the Houston Texans were bereft of talent in the secondary. But this notion proved foolish, as Bouye, 25, was playing excellent football. The Houston Texans finished number two in pass defense for the second consecutive year. According to Pro Football Focus, Bouye is the NFL's top rated cornerback this season, behind 16 pass deflections and three interceptions. His emergence as a top-level threat is remarkable, and a strong performance versus New England in the AFC Divisional Round could skyrocket the dollar amount on his upcoming contract. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season (whenever that may be). He could conceivably still re-sign with the team, but there is a genuine anticipation that he will depart Houston in search of a higher price tag. The Texans have a projected $25 million to spend in the offseason, and while Bill O'Brien would love to retain him, A.J. Bouye has performed in a way that could cause richer teams to overspend. Look for number 21 to make an impact in what is potentially his final game as a Texan, versus the Patriots on Saturday night. View full NFL news story
  19. Final Thoughts Ahead of Texans-Patriots

    With less than 24 hours before kickoff of the AFC Divisional Round matchup between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots, both teams have come up with their final gameplan to advance to the AFC Championship Game. Not a lot is left to be said, but there are a couple thoughts that are left to ponder ahead of the game. The first thought is that the Texans really do have a chance in this game. Despite the pandering of the national media, and Vegas’ historic line for Saturday’s game, the Texans didn’t just fall into the Divisional round of the playoffs by accident. The team has been led by their defense, and has been more successful on the offensive side of the ball as the season has progressed. While the team certainly won’t acknowledge listening to the outsiders’ reaction to the game, the Texans will definitely be playing with a chip on their shoulder as they look to spring the upset. Another thought ahead of the game is how the team is built to play in the elements. Game-time temperatures are forecasted to be hovering around freezing. However, the Texans are built to succeed in this kind of weather. With a hard-hitting defense, and a running game led by a 1,000 yard rusher in Lamar Miller, the team can grind this game out and force the Patriots out of their gameplan. It will be imperative for the team to get out to a fast start, as taking the crowd out of the game will help focus the Texans on the task at hand. Finally, the team can’t get caught up in the moment. Many are pegging Tom Brady as the league MVP and are glossing over this playoff game. However, the Texans have the right personnel to disrupt the likely MVP, as they are led by coaches with experience coaching on the Patriots. This gives them a little bit of familiarity with the style of play that the Patriots play with, and can be an advantage for the team. Additionally, the team knows that Brady can be knocked off his game when he is facing constant pressure, particularly in his face. The Texans hopes of advancing will fall on the shoulders of pass rushers Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, and co., and look for the team to pull out all the stops as they look to avenge their previous loss to the Patriots earlier this season.
  20. With less than 24 hours before kickoff of the AFC Divisional Round matchup between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots, both teams have come up with their final gameplan to advance to the AFC Championship Game. Not a lot is left to be said, but there are a couple thoughts that are left to ponder ahead of the game. The first thought is that the Texans really do have a chance in this game. Despite the pandering of the national media, and Vegas’ historic line for Saturday’s game, the Texans didn’t just fall into the Divisional round of the playoffs by accident. The team has been led by their defense, and has been more successful on the offensive side of the ball as the season has progressed. While the team certainly won’t acknowledge listening to the outsiders’ reaction to the game, the Texans will definitely be playing with a chip on their shoulder as they look to spring the upset. Another thought ahead of the game is how the team is built to play in the elements. Game-time temperatures are forecasted to be hovering around freezing. However, the Texans are built to succeed in this kind of weather. With a hard-hitting defense, and a running game led by a 1,000 yard rusher in Lamar Miller, the team can grind this game out and force the Patriots out of their gameplan. It will be imperative for the team to get out to a fast start, as taking the crowd out of the game will help focus the Texans on the task at hand. Finally, the team can’t get caught up in the moment. Many are pegging Tom Brady as the league MVP and are glossing over this playoff game. However, the Texans have the right personnel to disrupt the likely MVP, as they are led by coaches with experience coaching on the Patriots. This gives them a little bit of familiarity with the style of play that the Patriots play with, and can be an advantage for the team. Additionally, the team knows that Brady can be knocked off his game when he is facing constant pressure, particularly in his face. The Texans hopes of advancing will fall on the shoulders of pass rushers Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, and co., and look for the team to pull out all the stops as they look to avenge their previous loss to the Patriots earlier this season. View full NFL news story
  21. Don't Count the Texans Out Just Yet

    It's no secret that the 4-seed Houston Texans are underdogs going into Saturday's matchup vs New England. The Patriots are 15.5 point favorites according to Vegas odds, and though these numbers are irrelevant come game time, it certainly puts into perspective just how tough this game is going to be for the Texans to win. Including the playoffs, Houston is a meager 4-5 against teams with a winning record, featuring a Week 4 loss to none other than the Tom Brady-less Patriots squad. In that game, the Texans offense produced zero points. All of this certainly seems like a perfect recipe for another New England postseason victory, and many already have Brady and Belichick slated to play their 11th AFC Championship bout together next weekend, but don't count out the Texans just yet. Here are a few things Bill O'Brien and his team must do on Saturday to defeat the New England Patriots. Stop the run: Houston boasts the 12th ranked rushing defense this season, giving up a flat 100 yards per game. Without a doubt, former 1st round selection Whitney Mercilus is anchoring the vessel, ranking 5th in the league in tackles for loss with 16. If the Texans' front 7 can prove better than their season average and hold LeGarrette Blount to under 100 yards rushing, it will make things much easier against the play action, a category in which Tom Brady recorded an NFL-high 125.0 passer rating. Brock Osweiler must play mistake free football: Perhaps this one is the tallest task. With an amateur 72.2 passer rating and a 15-16 TD-INT ratio, the stats alone paint an ugly picture alongside an unforgiving season for the $72 million dollar quarterback. He has yet to throw for 3 touchdowns in a game this season entering the biggest matchup of his career, and while he has not thrown an interception in 2 games, he should definitely still be considered a liability. The playoffs have a simple, time-withstanding formula: win the turnover battle. This year is no different if Brock Osweiler and the Texans hope to dethrone an especially opportunistic Patriots defense with a league-leading 93 points off turnovers. Get Miller going early: Lamar Miller has rushed for over 100 yards and a TD three times this season, and the Texans are 2-1 in those games. The Patriots allow an average of 98.8 yards per game against opposing rushers, and if the former Dolphins Running Back can duplicate a performance similar to the ones above, perhaps the Houston offense can hold its bearings against a front 7 that is notoriously stout in January. There you have it. If the Houston Texans can win the rushing battle and keep Osweiler turnovers to a minimum, they have a legitimate chance of leaving Foxborough with a win against a Patriots team that can seemingly do no wrong.
  22. It's no secret that the 4-seed Houston Texans are underdogs going into Saturday's matchup vs New England. The Patriots are 15.5 point favorites according to Vegas odds, and though these numbers are irrelevant come game time, it certainly puts into perspective just how tough this game is going to be for the Texans to win. Including the playoffs, Houston is a meager 4-5 against teams with a winning record, featuring a Week 4 loss to none other than the Tom Brady-less Patriots squad. In that game, the Texans offense produced zero points. All of this certainly seems like a perfect recipe for another New England postseason victory, and many already have Brady and Belichick slated to play their 11th AFC Championship bout together next weekend, but don't count out the Texans just yet. Here are a few things Bill O'Brien and his team must do on Saturday to defeat the New England Patriots. Stop the run: Houston boasts the 12th ranked rushing defense this season, giving up a flat 100 yards per game. Without a doubt, former 1st round selection Whitney Mercilus is anchoring the vessel, ranking 5th in the league in tackles for loss with 16. If the Texans' front 7 can prove better than their season average and hold LeGarrette Blount to under 100 yards rushing, it will make things much easier against the play action, a category in which Tom Brady recorded an NFL-high 125.0 passer rating. Brock Osweiler must play mistake free football: Perhaps this one is the tallest task. With an amateur 72.2 passer rating and a 15-16 TD-INT ratio, the stats alone paint an ugly picture alongside an unforgiving season for the $72 million dollar quarterback. He has yet to throw for 3 touchdowns in a game this season entering the biggest matchup of his career, and while he has not thrown an interception in 2 games, he should definitely still be considered a liability. The playoffs have a simple, time-withstanding formula: win the turnover battle. This year is no different if Brock Osweiler and the Texans hope to dethrone an especially opportunistic Patriots defense with a league-leading 93 points off turnovers. Get Miller going early: Lamar Miller has rushed for over 100 yards and a TD three times this season, and the Texans are 2-1 in those games. The Patriots allow an average of 98.8 yards per game against opposing rushers, and if the former Dolphins Running Back can duplicate a performance similar to the ones above, perhaps the Houston offense can hold its bearings against a front 7 that is notoriously stout in January. There you have it. If the Houston Texans can win the rushing battle and keep Osweiler turnovers to a minimum, they have a legitimate chance of leaving Foxborough with a win against a Patriots team that can seemingly do no wrong. View full NFL news story
  23. The Texans Keys To Success Against The Patriots

    The Texans travel on the road to face the top seeded New England Patriots. Here are their keys to winning this weekend: Winning the line of scrimmage on offense Protecting Brock Osweiler long enough for a pass to get off without too much pressure will be critical. Osweiler has a terrible turnover margin and limiting the time Tom Brady is on the field is always a good thing. The Texans have had a few “flashes in the pan” on offense, but getting into the red zone means multiple opportunities for points. Short passes Keep the Patriots away from Osweiler, and get passes out fast to limit potential turnovers. The Patriots switch between a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme pretty frequently, so attacking the space between the corners and outside linebackers is a must for this offense. Limit turnovers Turnovers are bad. Say it with me again: Turnovers. Are. Bad. The Texans have the stingiest defense in the league, but they aren't invincible. Keeping the offense on the field helps control the game clock, and allows the defense time for rest and recovery. Get penetration on defense Putting constant pressure on the quarterback and stopping the ball carrier in the backfield wear down an offense. If the Texans can get and maintain penetration from their star studded defense, particularly in Brady's face, they can make Brady hesitate and throw him off his game. Limit Deep Passes Brady is the Anakin to Belichick’s Palpatine, and he has a cannon for an arm. Brady has the best play-vision of any QB in the league, and Julian Edelman is 98 for 158 on receptions with 55 of those receptions resulting in a first down. With stats like that big plays are going to happen. Convert on special teams The Texans are 31st out of 32 teams on TDs resulting from red zone visits. The Texans need to capitalize and get points every time they go to red zone. Nick Novak has made 85% of his field goals and averages almost 3 field goals a game. That’s behind Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who missed just one field goal this season. The Houston Texans face off against a stellar and ever formidable New England Patriots this weekend in Foxborough. You can catch the game on CBS at 8:15 eastern time.
  24. The Texans travel on the road to face the top seeded New England Patriots. Here are their keys to winning this weekend: Winning the line of scrimmage on offense Protecting Brock Osweiler long enough for a pass to get off without too much pressure will be critical. Osweiler has a terrible turnover margin and limiting the time Tom Brady is on the field is always a good thing. The Texans have had a few “flashes in the pan” on offense, but getting into the red zone means multiple opportunities for points. Short passes Keep the Patriots away from Osweiler, and get passes out fast to limit potential turnovers. The Patriots switch between a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme pretty frequently, so attacking the space between the corners and outside linebackers is a must for this offense. Limit turnovers Turnovers are bad. Say it with me again: Turnovers. Are. Bad. The Texans have the stingiest defense in the league, but they aren't invincible. Keeping the offense on the field helps control the game clock, and allows the defense time for rest and recovery. Get penetration on defense Putting constant pressure on the quarterback and stopping the ball carrier in the backfield wear down an offense. If the Texans can get and maintain penetration from their star studded defense, particularly in Brady's face, they can make Brady hesitate and throw him off his game. Limit Deep Passes Brady is the Anakin to Belichick’s Palpatine, and he has a cannon for an arm. Brady has the best play-vision of any QB in the league, and Julian Edelman is 98 for 158 on receptions with 55 of those receptions resulting in a first down. With stats like that big plays are going to happen. Convert on special teams The Texans are 31st out of 32 teams on TDs resulting from red zone visits. The Texans need to capitalize and get points every time they go to red zone. Nick Novak has made 85% of his field goals and averages almost 3 field goals a game. That’s behind Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who missed just one field goal this season. The Houston Texans face off against a stellar and ever formidable New England Patriots this weekend in Foxborough. You can catch the game on CBS at 8:15 eastern time. View full NFL news story
  25. DeAndre Hopkins Limited in Wednesday’s Practice

    As the Houston Texans continue their preparation for Saturday’s do-or-die matchup with the New England Patriots, they will continue to monitor their star players’ reps in practice, while affording those with minor injuries a chance to take it easy before the game. The Texans appear to be doing just both on Wednesday, as star wide receiver Deandre Hopkins was listed as a limited participant for practice. Hopkins was added to the injury report with a knee injury, which was tweaked in last week’s wild card win over the Oakland Raiders. All indications are that the 4th year receiver will be fine to play come Saturday night, and the Texans will surely hope that he continues to find renewed success with starting quarterback Brock Osweiler. After recording career highs in receptions (111), yards (1,521) and touchdowns (11) in 2015, Hopkins has suffered a decline in those numbers this season. His numbers declined to 78 receptions for 954 yards and 4 TDs in 2016. However, Hopkins still shows the on-field skillset to be a game-changer for the Texans as they look to advance into the next round of the playoffs.