As I made my way home from NRG Stadium following the Texans 30-0 loss to the Chiefs Saturday night I started reflecting on what I’d seen the last 18 weeks, and I kept asking myself if the 2015 season was a success. On one hand, the Texans made the playoffs, but on the other, they were boat-raced out of the playoffs in their own building.
It seemed everytime I came up with something positive there’d be a negative to go right along with it.
On one hand Brian Hoyer had the best year of his career, but on the other hand, there were far too many games when he simply wasn’t good enough, especially against good teams, which was well on display Saturday. Hoyer started four games against three playoff teams (Kansas City, Cincinnati, New England) this season. The numbers were quite ugly.
Hoyer did have one absolutely lethal weapon in DeAndre Hopkins. The guy is a monster. In his third NFL season, he cemented his standing as one of the best receivers in all of football, but looks receivers he’s surrounded by. Can you say any are close to being above average NFL players? Nate Washington was a drop machine, Jaelen Strong had trouble getting on the field, and the Texans’ tight ends were almost anonymous.
Then there’s the running backs. Arian Foster likely played his last game in a Texans’ uniform October 25 in Miami. He tore his Achilles late in that game against Dolphins after missing almost all of camp and the first three games of the season due to groin surgery. On one hand, the Texans survived the loss, winning 8-of-13 games (including playoffs) while he was hurt, but on the other hand, they used four different guys in his place, and while they each bring something to the table, none is the complete back Foster has been throughout his career.
What about the defense? On one hand it turned into one of the more stout units in all of football, and held teams without a touchdown in 7-of-16 regular season games, but on the other hand, it struggled against teams with speed, and five of Saturday’s starters (Vince Wilfork, Quintin Demps, Brian Cushing, Kareem Jackson, and Johnathan Joseph) will be older than 28 when camp starts in July, while a sixth, Jared Crick, is a free agent.
This is the problem with the 2015 Texans. It was a playoff team, but it wasn’t a good playoff team. The Texans roster is flawed, but includes foundational players that are in or are just entering their prime’s. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include the quarterback.
Hoyer is 30 and just completed in seventh NFL season. He is what he is: a below average NFL starting quarterback. The problem for the Texans is that it will be hard to upgrade the position. Sure, there are free agents, but is Sam Bradford an upgrade over Hoyer? Chase Daniel? Drew Stanton? Hey, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be out there. You could always take a shot on Brock Osweiler, but did he impress you when handed the keys to the Broncos?
There’s always the trade market. Drew Brees and Jay Cutler could be pried away from their teams. The Texans are in great cap shape so they could absorb those bloated contracts, but Brees will be 37 when camp starts, Cutler 33.
Drafting a quarterback is always an option, but the Texans draft 22nd, so any quarterback with a first round grade is going to be long gone, and it’s tough to trade up to a spot where they could grab one without giving up a ton. Even if they did that, going to battle with a rookie quarterback is hardly ideal.
That’s where the Texans find themselves today. On one hand a good team that has finished with a winning record in 4 of the last 5 season, but on the other a team that is still far away from being Super Bowl contenders.