Shooting the Bull: Look back at Texans' 2013
We're a little less than two months from free agency. Over three months from the NFL draft. And about six months from training camp. Soooo we have some time to kill. That said, here are 20 random Texans (and other) thoughts.
1. I was wrong. I thought the Texans would be good in 2013. I thought they would win the AFC South easily. Nope.
2. The Ed Reed signing is still the most baffling part of 2013. The Texans put all their eggs in one basket. There wasn't a backup plan if he wasn't good. So when he wasn't good, they were left with Shiloh Keo. Then, Danieal Manning was lost for the year and they were left with Keo and rookie D.J. Swearinger starting.
The Texans passed on signing Glover Quin before the season began, which was a horrible decision. No, Quin isn't a Pro Bowl-type player but he would have been a heckuva lot better player than Reed.
3. One more interesting Reed note: In seven games with the Jets, he had three interceptions. That was the same number of interceptions Johnathan Joseph had in 2013. Joseph led the Texans in that category.
It's a shame the Reed move didn't work out in Houston because he's an all-time great ballhawk. He has 64 career interceptions, sixth all time.
4. I think Jadeveon Clowney will end up being a really good NFL football player. I just don’t think the Texans should draft him. They need a quarterback desperately and the best chance to get a good one in the draft is by taking their favorite, which they can do with the top pick. They shouldn’t overthink it. Evaluate, choose one and draft him.
5. I went to see “The Wolf of Wall Street” last week and I really liked it. But how weird is this? I went by myself during the afternoon on a weekday. The theater was empty and this family decided to sit in my row and left just one seat empty between us. Really? We were the only people in the theater!
Oh, and by the way, don’t make fun of me for going to the movies by myself. If you haven’t done it, try it. It’s my favorite way to watch a movie. You can just enjoy it and not worry about anyone bothering you or trying to talk during the movie. And, it’s less sad than eating dinner at a restaurant solo.
6. It wasn’t shocking to see Bill O’Brien gut the 2013 Texans’ coaching staff. In fact, it was more surprising that some people seemed surprised. Most new coaches would prefer to have their own coaching staff in place. And, the Texans went 2-14 with what the owner thought was the most talented team they’ve ever had. Of course darn-near all the coaches were fired.
As far as Bill Kollar staying to coach the defensive line, it makes sense and it doesn’t. It makes sense because it’s important to have one coach on the staff who was with the team in the previous regime. Kollar can help the other coaches learn the returning players and vice versa. What doesn’t make sense, to me at least, is having Kollar coach the defensive line in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense. Crennel has traditionally used a two-gap 3-4 defense. Kollar has a lot of 4-3 and one-gap defenses in his past. But Kollar is J.J. Watt’s coach and there’s a strong possibility the Texans won’t run just one type of front.
7. DeAndre Hopkins had a pretty good rookie season but he didn’t end as strong as he began. He finished the year with 52 catches for 802 yards and two touchdowns. But his last seven games, he had 15 catches for 263 yards and zero touchdowns.
His best game of the year was the second game of the year, when he caught seven passes for 117 yards and the game-winning touchdown against the Titans.
He became the second Texans rookie to have 50 catches for 800 yards. The other was Andre Johnson in 2003. Hopkins was one of two rookies, along with Keenan Allen, to do it this season.
8. Another guy who had a really good season? J.J. Watt. In fact, here are my rankings for which Texans had the best 2013 seasons.
1. J.J. Watt
2. Andre Johnson
3. Chris Myers
4. Duane Brown
5. Shane Lechler
9. The Rockets game on Thursday night was unbelievable. They scored 73 points in the first half but scored just 19 points in the second half and lost. Never seen anything like that … because that’s never happened before. It was the biggest first half to second half point differential ever.
But during halftime of that game, I wanted to see if they had a chance to break their all-time scoring record for a game. They weren’t even on pace. On Jan. 10, 1991, the Rockets beat the Nuggets 156-133 and they did it in four quarters. But in the first half of that game, they scored just 62 points. Then, they scored 44 points in the third quarter and 50 (!!!) in the fourth.
10. The most difficult decision for the Texans this offseason (draft excluded) will be at the tight end position. Owen Daniels is entering the final year of his contract and will have a base salary of $4.5 million, with a cap hit of $6.25 million. He suffered a broken leg during 2013 and finished the year on the IR.
Meanwhile, Garrett Graham caught 49 passes for 545 yards and tied for the team-high in touchdowns with five.
The team will bring back Ryan Griffin, who had a very successful rookie season, but will have to decide what to do with that starter role. They have two choices: They can let Graham walk and keep Daniels or they can re-sign Graham and cut Daniels. OK, OK, the third option would be to bring both back but it seems unlikely they’d tie up that much money in the tight end position.
11. The Texans have 11 unrestricted free agents and most of them won't be back. Antonio Smith, Greg Jones, Elbert Mack, Andrew Gardner, Joe Mays, Earl Mitchell, Ben Tate, Ryan Harris, Darryl Sharpton, Garrett Graham and Wade Smith can all walk.
The best bets to be back? I'll guess Ryan Harris, Graham and maybe Joe Mays or Darryl Sharpton.
12. If there’s anyone in Houston or beyond who still thinks Case Keenum can be the future quarterback of the Texans, were you watching? Keenum sparked when he first got a chance to start but defenses adjusted and Keenum didn’t. Opposing defenses took away the long ball chances and Keenum wasn’t accurate enough to make the intermediate throws. The funny thing is, Gary Kubiak’s biggest mistake this year might have been giving Keenum his first start too early. The Texans didn’t win a game and then when he went back to Matt Schaub, it didn’t make owner Bob McNair real happy.
13. If Keenum never starts an NFL game again, which isn’t completely impossible, he would go down as the only player since the merger to throw for over 1,700 yards without getting a win.
14. It looks like Wade Smith (free agent) and Matt Schaub (likely to get cut) won’t be back next season. Say what you want about those two guys as football players, but the City of Houston will miss them off the field. Both have been incredible through their foundations, Gr8 Hope Foundation and the Wade Smith Foundation. They’re two guys who understand the difference they can make with their celebrity status.
15. The Pro Bowl is silly so I don’t care too much about the new non-conference format. Sure, let the guys go up there and pick teams like a backyard football game. The only difference is that players actually play hard in backyard football games.
The other silly part of the Pro Bowl is how many guys end up being Pro Bowlers. Some guys simply choose to skip the game. Others are hurt and can’t make it. And then, there are the players who will play in the Super Bowl, who don’t go to the Pro Bowl. It’s one thing for the game to be silly but the honor shouldn’t be.
16. About a week or so ago, fellow CSNer James Palmer showed me this YouTube clip of a Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon skit. It’s a really stupid video and song – it’s about two guys who sing about wearing tight pants – but it’s been rattling around my brain ever since. And it’s really funny. So I’m passing it along to all of you good people in hopes it gets stuck in your heads too.
17. If I had an MLB Hall of Fame vote -- and I don't -- here are the players I would have voted for: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell and Armando Benitez.
OK, I'm joking about Benitez but he really did get one vote. So did Jacque Jones and Kenny Rogers. Really.
18. The Texans stuck with Randy Bullock during the 2013 and it might end up paying off in the long run. He’s got a heckuva leg and found his accuracy late in the season. They should still bring in someone to compete with him this summer but this might be a case where Gary Kubiak’s loyalty helps the franchise in the future. Bullock did just finish his first NFL season after all. He made 26 of 35 field goals.
Think about it this way: Morten Anderson is the NFL’s career leader in field goals made. But in his first season, 1982, Anderson made just two of his five attempts.
19. What did you guys think of O’Brien’s introductory press conference? I think he came off very well. He was strong, assertive but wasn’t too stern. Really, no one will care about that stuff once the season starts. He’ll be judged harshly if he doesn’t produce a winner.
I’m not sure O’Brien was the best candidate for the job but I was impressed by how the Texans approached the search. They moved quickly and targeted their guy. Then, they moved to get him. Who did I think was the best candidate? Well, in the world where I own an NFL team, I wouldn’t need to hire a head coach with head coaching experience. For my money, I would have tried to hire Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and I would have thought about defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. There are always good coaches who haven’t been head coaches before, you just have to find them.
20. Speaking of good coaches, it’s a shame no one has even interviewed former Texans defensive coordinator and interim head coach Wade Phillips. He’s 66 and he might be right about that working against him. Maybe he’s not a great head coach but it’s hard to argue that he’s not a good defensive coach. I hope he gets a job.