By Dave Thomas
The pain and agony for both the fan base and players is over for the Houston Texans. Now the question becomes, who will lead the Texans into the 2014 season?
Rather than who will direct the Texans, the question is who should Houston (2-14) select with the top draft pick next spring?
Following wins to kick off the season versus San Diego and Tennessee, the Texans proceeded to go on a 14-game tailspin, culminating with this past Sunday’s 16-10 loss in Music City to the Tennessee Titans, the franchise that at one time called Houston home as the Oilers. Safe to say that even the legendary Earl Campbell, Dan Pastorini and the late Bum Phillips would have been appalled at the exhibition of play demonstrated the last 14 games by this franchise that replaced the beloved Oilers years ago.
The Houston demise claimed former head coach Gary Kubiak, could very well claim interim head coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and might very well lead to quarterback Matt Schaub hitting the road.
Although nothing was imminent as “Black Monday” took place around the league Dec. 30 and several coaches were let go, rumors have been swirling that current Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien (15-9 in two seasons at PSU) is moving closer and closer to a deal to be the Texans’ next head coach.
According to a number of reports, O’Brien, formerly the offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, could be offered the job to take over for Phillips and lead the Texans into the 2014 NFL Draft. Reports are O’Brien has a nearly $6.5 million buyout in his contract with the Nittany Lions, something that an NFL team may not blink an eye at if they really want him.
Where Did it Begin to Unravel?
Coming off of a season that saw an AFC South championship and a 13-3 mark, the Texans were projected to possibly go deep into the playoffs this season. As it turned out, the team was essentially dead and buried before November even rolled around.
For Houston, the season started to come apart during a three-week stretch following their 2-0 start.
In successive weeks, Houston fell to defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore (30-9), NFC number one seed Seattle (23-20), and defending NFC champion San Francisco (34-3). During those three weeks, two blowouts and a heartbreaking home loss to the Seahawks (a game Houston was preparing to close out the clock with the ball) began what turned into a horrific slide.
Over the following weeks, the Texans were in a number of games against some 2013 playoff teams (lost to Kansas City 17-16), (lost to Indianapolis 27-24), (lost to New England 34-31), but could never quite get over the hump.
Checking Out the Stats
When you have a 2-14 season, obviously not much good comes from it. Among some of the numbers during these 16 games, all but guaranteed departing Schaub threw for 2,310 yards (10 TD’s, 14 INT’s), while Case Keenum accounted for 1,760 yards passing, nine touchdowns, and six picks.
On the ground, with star back Arian Foster missing a sizable chunk of the season due to injuries, Ben Tate rushed for 771 yards, while star wide receiver Andre Johnson hauled in 1,407 yards.
Defensively, the Texans were led by J.J. Watt (10.5 sacks), Darryl Sharpton (87 total tackles) and Jonathan Joseph (three INT’s).
Yes, it was a season that fell way short of expectation. WIth that said, with either Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) or Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) coming out in the spring draft, the Texans might be slowly putting the pieces together to climb their way back to respectability.
For more Texans news and updates, visit Texans Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.