If you’re a Jaguars fan, the offseason is shaping up quite nicely. The superb defense is coming back largely intact, Peyton Manning definitely won’t be in Indianapolis, Tennessee appears unsettled with their current quarterback situation, and the Houston Texans are getting weaker each day.
Last time in AFC South Exposed, we explained why the Tennessee Titans are Screwed. While it was mostly speculative, we’re going to continue the trend here at B&T and tell you why Houston is Screwed in 2012.
Originally this article wasn’t going to focus on why the Texans are not going to do well, I didn’t want to sound too negative about the whole AFC South competition, but with the front office seriously damaging the roster it’s tough not to make note of it.
By now the names of the lost players for Houston are becoming commonplace. Tight end Joel Dreesen (Denver), Mario Williams (Buffalo), offensive tackle Eric Winston (Cut and rapidly signed to Kansas City)…the list seems endless. 16 players were declared free agents on March 13th. Two players (QB Matt Leinart and Eric Winston) were cut the day before and fullback Lawrence Vickers was cut on the 13th. Of the 16 players declared free agents, only one has been resigned – Center Chris Meyers. One of 16. That’s barely over 6%.
Chris Meyers is a very good zone-scheme center. He works superbly well in the Texans lineup and will probably play his best ball in the Houston scheme. Getting him back was crucial for the Texans.
As was re-signing Arian Foster before free agency on March 5th.
With those two pieces back the Texans have a strong running game (Foster and Ben Tate are a powerful duo) and can guarantee inside line solidity that can flex with the passing game when needed.
But the Texans have let too many pieces walk this year. Of their championship level defense from last year, they’ve now traded linebacker DeMeco Ryans away for a fourth round pick. It’s tough to return to form, even with your starting quarterback coming back, when you lose so much cohesion from the year before.
Wade Phillips was great at orchestrating the team to a powerful defensive showing last year. But it wasn’t just him. The front office had been bringing in high level talent through the draft for years. That talent was finally beginning to gel. And the team was starting to see the dividends.
Replacing that cohesion is harder to do than it appears.
I don’t care what Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips do in 2012. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson will still put up big numbers, but I can’t see the Texans taking a step forward (but probably a few back) this next year. Expect the other AFC South teams to creep closer to the division leader this year.
– Luke N. Sims