Anthony North is the lead blogger from the FanSided site ToroTimes. Like Scott Humphries from Colts Chronicle, he is intelligent and easy to have a conversation with. He stopped by to answer some questions I had about the Houston Texans. If you have any, leave a comment and Anthony will pop back. We hope to see him later in the season! So here it is:
B&T: I have a hard time judging the Houston Texans 2009 season. You should have beaten the Titans, the Jaguars and the Colts in your first 9 games and gone 7-2. In fact you should have been 8-2 to start the season. What happened? Why didn’t you own the AFC South last year?
ToroTimes: I believe that the two main factors in the slow start was the defense still adjusting to the new schemes being implemented under the new defensive coordinator Frank Bush and the Texans inability to finish games. Two examples for my first reason includes failures at the end of the games to score from the one yard line against the Jaguars and Cardinals. I can add to that with kicker Kris Brown missing two potential tying field goals in the final seconds in games against the Colts and in the second meeting with the Titans. My second reason can easily be explained in the first three weeks of the season. In those week, the Texans defense allowed major running games by the Jets, Titans, and Jaguars, leaving them ranked last in rushing defense. That problem with quickly fixed however, with the addition of safety Bernard Pollard being highly credited with the turnaround. The Texans finished the rest of the season ranked in the top ten on defense over that span. I would also like to add that since 2007, the Texans have played the first eight games of the season 11-13 and have finished 14-10, including 10-2 in the final four weeks of the season. The Texans seem to stall some though the season, but they tend to finish strong.
I have long been critical of a Kubiak team’s inability to put people away. Anthony points that out as a major reason for letting games get away. Losing early and finishing strong is not the mark of a winning culture. He is right about the run defense getting more solid later in the season. They did and Houston is getting better on defense. (Keep reading after the jump!)
B&T: Penalties chewed up the defense last year. Does Kubiak have trouble running a disciplined team? To me, the Texans under Kubiak lose their poise. Your thoughts?
ToroTimes:It’s hard to point your finger at any one thing when it comes to discipline. I find it hard to believe that Kubiak, who coaches a far more disciplined offense, can be the one to blame for the Texans defense committing too many bad fouls last season. Consider this. The Texans had the youngest starting defense in the NFL last season. The players have frequently stated that it’s on the player and not the coaches when it has come to the unit not being disciplined enough. The players seem to have full confidence in the schemes and what the coaches are telling them, but they just need to progress and become more mentally tough.
I do have respect for Houston’s defense. If they get more disciplined and aware, they could hold a game in check in 2010.
B&T: When I think about the Houston Texans I think Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. I don’t think defense and I don’t think running. Have you become a one dimensional team? A baby version of the Colts?
ToroTimes:While quietly excelling at their positions, both DE Mario Williams and MLB Demeco Ryans have been elected to the Pro Bowl multiple times. On the offensive side of the ball, the Texans have been making additions to help their struggling running game. Those players include free agent G/C Wade Smith, rookie G Shelley Smith, and most notably rookie RB Ben Tate. In 2009, it’s safe to say that Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson made up the majority of the Texans offense, especially after Pro Bowl TE Owen Daniels was lost for the season. The last thing the Texans want to be is a one dimensional team.
Sorry Antony, not seeing the real fix for the running game here. The problem is the left side of the line especially at Left Tackle leaks like a sieve. Owen Daniels tore his ACL and was signed to a one year deal by the Texans. Knowing ACL’s take two years to heal, I don’t see him productive. The Texans will still struggle with a run game and pass protection.
B&T: What do you think of your draft class? Did they hit on any stars this year?
ToroTimes: Texans fans and coaches have been falling in love with the 2010 draft class so far. CB Kareem Jackson, the Texans first round pick at #20, has exceeded the expectations of Texans coaches through the offseason practices. In the second round, the club drafted RB Ben Tate, a player who should help provide the element of power that the Texans running game was missing before. Also added was Houston native Earl Mitchell, a quick and athletic 3-technique DT. LB Darryl Sharpton will be used as a backup that can play any of the three LB positions. TE Garrett Graham is almost an exact copy of Owen Daniels coming out of college, also coincidentally from Wisconsin. Also added was G Shelley Smith and CB Sherrick McManis. Late in the 6th round, a player known as one of the fastest in college football history, PR/KR Trindon Holliday was selected. And finally with their final pick, the Texans drafted the TE to WR convert, Dorin Dickerson, a project player who fits in the mold of Andre Johnson. I believe it’s a solid class, made up mainly of impact players that should provide quite a spark in 2010.
It is hard to argue about a draft class right now. Gary Kubiak and the Texans do have a solid record of identifying talent.
B&T: Why will the Houston Texans win the AFC South this year?
ToroTimes: If the Texans do end up winning the AFC South in 2010, it will be because their defense was able to keep up even with the best of offenses. If the Texans want to win this division, they will need to be able to defeat Peyton Manning and the Colts in each aspect of the game. In my opinion, I still think the Colts will be the king of the division this year. Currently, I am predicting a 10-6 season with a wild card birth.
Hey, if you are afraid of the Colts, we aren’t. I say believe in yourself. The Texans have every right to claim the AFC South crown. They just have to buy into it and get the headsets on right. Well, and fix that offensive line, and find a running game and find someone other than ‘dre to throw too, but other than that…
Thank you Anthony for stopping by. Good luck to the Texans this year. Claim that wild card spot, except it might not be the Colts who own the title.
– Terry O’Brien