AFC South Exposed: Why The Texans Won’t Repeat
By Luke Sims
The Texans have been a team on the rise for years. They were the popular dark-horse candidate for the playoffs the past two seasons and finally won the AFC South for their playoff debut. While the feat left the Jaguars as the only team in the division to not hoist the crown, it also gave much hope to a fan base that has been without hope since the Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Titans.
I’m not blaming David Carr or Bob McNair, but the Texans have failed to produce a winner and one year of success (a year with a very bemused Colts team) does not suddenly make the team a perennial playoff lock. Personally, I think it all relates back to head coach Gary Kubiak.
A couple years ago, Kubiak’s job was on the line. Many sports pundits openly said he was bound to lose his job and that it may be time for Houston to transition away from the ex-quarterback and focus on building a more complete team. Having only one winning season in 2009 when the team went 9-7 and missed the playoffs, the team did not look to be heading toward success until the 2011 breakout that saw the team go 10-6, a full four more victories than their 2010 total (a 6-10 season that tied Kubiak’s worst).
So, with things seeming to look up, why am I hard on Kubiak? Because it took the brilliance of Wade Phillips to bring the team to the playoffs.
Kubiak can, and has, built a superb offense. His downside is his defense. Phillips came in after being excused in Dallas and turned the Texans into a winner. But even with a very, very good defense the team still only managed to win one more game than they did in 2009. It could be extrapolated that the team would have been better with Matt Schaub under center, and I agree. But that is a player, not scheming or coaching.
T.J. Yates – a man some here at B&T thought would be drafted higher than the fifth round – is a decent player, one of the league’s greatest receivers plays in Houston, a superb pair of backs rush the ball, and a very strong crop of defensive players have responded well to good coaching from Phillips.
Meanwhile, Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin are turning no-names into legends and changing the way the game is played. John Harbaugh is inspiring his players to heights far beyond their potential in Baltimore. The Steelers are making waves with players who have been around the block a few too many times. And the Broncos got by with a quarterback who could only play in the fourth quarter.
I like the Texans, they should have won the Super Bowl in 2011 with a healthy Matt Schaub. The team has a roster that is stronger than most any other team you match it against. But the team is being limited by a head coach who has worked hard at building a good offense but probably can’t sustain it. The team relies too much on its players and too little on its coach to be successful over the longer term.
I’m not going to say the team won’t be tough to beat. But look for a drop similar to the 2010 season for the Texans. And when it’s all said and done I’ll be pointing at Kubiak and thinking of a potential Houston dynasty that could have been in the AFC South.
– Luke N. Sims
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