Making The Grade: Secondary
Texans' secondary report card
Now that the Super Bowl is over and the NFL is into the offseason, we’re taking a position-by-position look at the Texans. First up, we look at the secondary:
Stud: Kareem Jackson
Believe it or not, we’re not giving this to the Pro Bowler from the Texans’ secondary. Johnathan Joseph had a pretty good year and went to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, but he wasn’t even the best corner on his own team for most of the season. Joseph’s struggles weren’t all his fault; he dealt with a hamstring injury for most of the season.
But Kareem Jackson was really good. Jackson, in his third season in the NFL, really came into his own and became a really good corner opposite Joseph. Jackson was a first-rounder in the 2010 draft and early in his career, it looked like a poor selection. Plenty of folks thought he was doomed to be a bust but Jackson proved his critics wrong in 2012.
Jackson led the team with four interceptions and tied J.J. Watt with 16 passes defensed.
Dud: Brandon Harris
Harris, in his second NFL season, was put in a really tough position. When slot corner Brice McCain went down for the season with an injured foot, Harris needed to play a lot more. He had played in the slot plenty in practice but it’s a different animal in real game action. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, the nickel corner becomes more and more important.
Harris had his bad moments but he had some good ones too. He played well against Wes Welker in the first meeting against the Patriots and made the biggest play of his career in the playoff win against the Bengals.
Free agents: Glover Quin, Alan Ball, Quintin Demps, Stanford Routt, McCain.
Look ahead: One of the Texans’ biggest goals of the off-season should be re-signing safety Quin. With Joseph, Jackson and Danieal Manning already under contract for next season, it’s important to keep the quartet together by re-signing Quinn. He shouldn’t require too much money but deserves a raise. He made it to the fourth year of his rookie contract, which paid him a little over $1.3 million in 2012. Quin said he hopes to be back in Houston next season and doesn’t see any reason he wouldn’t be.
The other decision the Texans will have to make is about McCain. He was playing at a pretty high level before going down for the season. And as much as Harris struggled at times, he looked good at others.
GM Rick Smith will need to make a decision about the future: is the team OK with Harris in the nickel or do they need to shell out some dough to keep McCain? The problem here might be about the money. McCain’s base salary was $1.308 million last season. Is it worth it to pay him that much (or probably more) if the team feels comfortable with Harris? That’s the question they’ll need to ask this offseason.
Ball, Demps and Routt might all be gone. Ball and Demps were injured for much of 2012 and Routt joined the team later in the season and rarely played. If any of those three are back, it’ll be for cheap.