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Online Texans Lines & Predictions - Houston Future Odds - Free NFL Betting Previews

2006 Houston Texans Season Preview

2006 Texans NFL News - August 23rd, 2006
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If you're a fan of coaching expertise, you oughta like the look of the 2006 Houston Texans.Go ahead and peruse that roster of coaches. Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Assistant Head Coach/Offense Mike Sherman,

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a couple of supposed offensive masterminds. Defensive Coordinator Richard Smith, plucked from the staff of the Miami Dolphins, recently credited with working wonders with his scheme in south Florida.

Throw in GM Rick Smith, who learned how to build a team while serving under Mike Shanahan in Denver, and you have to believe the Texans, what with their 18 wins in four seasons of history, are moving in the right direction.

Well, we'll see.

Don't forget that the previous regime, headed by Dom Capers and including supposed offensive wizard Chris Palmer and GM Charley Casserly, was pretty highly regarded once as well. They had been credited with improving the franchise over its three-year existence, until in 2005, the year when the organization's true arrival appeared imminent, the Texans fell with a thud to 2-14.

Enter Kubiak and his henchmen, who must set to convincing a skeptical fan base that it did the right thing by drafting neither Reggie Bush or Vince Young, and that it can bring winning football back to Houston for the first time since the Oilers went 12-4 way back in 1993.

If Kubiak can get it done, he'll be deified. If not, then like Capers, he'll eventually melt in the Texas heat.

Below we take a capsule look at the 2006 edition of the Houston Texans, with a personnel evaluation and prognosis included therein:

2005 RECORD: 2-14 (4th, AFC South)


COACH (RECORD): Gary Kubiak (first year with Texans, first overall)



OFFENSIVE STAR: Domanick Davis, RB (976 rushing yards, 39 receptions, 6 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Mario Williams, DE (1st Round, North Carolina State)

OFFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 15th rushing, 30th passing, t26th scoring

DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 32nd rushing, 24th passing, 32nd scoring

FIVE KEY GAMES: Philadelphia (9/10), at Dallas (10/15), Jacksonville (10/22), at Tennessee (10/29), Indianapolis (12/24)

KEY ADDITIONS: QB Sage Rosenfels (from Dolphins), QB Cody Pickett (from 49ers), RB Antowain Smith (from Saints), FB Jameel Cook (from Buccaneers), WR Eric Moulds (from Bills), WR Kevin Walter (from Bengals), TE Jeb Putzier (from Broncos), C Mike Flanagan (from Packers), G David Loverne (from Lions), T Ephraim Salaam (from Jaguars), T Eric Winston (3rd Round, Miami (FL)), OL Charles Spencer (3rd Round, Pittsburgh), DE Anthony Weaver (from Ravens), DE N.D. Kalu (from Eagles), DE Mario Williams (1st Round, North Carolina State), LB DeMeco Ryans (2nd Round, Alabama), LB Barrett Green (from Giants), LB Wali Rainer (from Lions), LB Sam Cowart (from Vikings), S Michael Stone (from Patriots)

KEY DEPARTURES: QB Tony Banks (released), RB Tony Hollings (released), WR Jabar Gaffney (to Eagles), WR Corey Bradford (to Lions), TE Marcellus Rivers, (to Raiders), C Tyson Walter (to Redskins), G Milford Brown (to Cardinals), DE Gary Walker (released), S Marcus Coleman (released)

QB: The new coaching staff offered a vote of confidence to David Carr (2488 passing yards, 14 TD, 11 INT) by picking up the quarterback's $8 million contract extension in the offseason. The former No. 1 overall pick has suffered through four inconsistent NFL seasons, but there is hope that if Houston can finally learn how to protect him (Carr has been sacked 208 times in four seasons), Carr will be able to properly display his talents. The depth chart behind Carr has changed, as Sage Rosenfels (462 passing yards, 4 TD, 3 INT with Miami), who started a couple games with the Dolphins in 2004-05, becomes the primary reserve behind Carr. Cody Pickett (140 passing yards, 0 TD, 2 INT with San Francisco), who went from fourth-string to two-game starter with the 49ers last season, is the odds-on favorite to hold the clipboard.

RB: Running back might be the highest profile position on the Texans this season, but it's not because of who will be doing the running for Houston, but because of who won't. The franchise shocked the NFL world by passing up Reggie Bush with the No. 1 overall pick in favor of defensive end Mario Williams, in turn putting a ton of pressure on incumbent Domanick Davis (976 rushing yards, 39 receptions, 6 TD). Davis was the only consistent source of offense the Texans had last season, but he has yet to play an entire season in four years in the league and comes off knee surgery. His potential backup, free agent pickup Antowain Smith (659 rushing yards, 3 TD with New Orleans), is 34 years old, while probable third-stringer Vernand Morency (184 rushing yards, 2 TD) struggled with plantar fascitis in his foot during the offseason. Those issues could cause the Texans to carry four running backs, with intriguing sixth- round draft choice Wali Lundy (Virginia) a good bet to make the club. At fullback, former Buccaneer Jameel Cook (7 receptions, 1 TD) is primarily known for his blocking abilities.

WR/TE: Perhaps the most disappointing element of the Texans' 2005 season was the play of No. 1 wideout Andre Johnson (63 receptions, 2 TD), who followed up his Pro Bowl season of 2004 with a veritable disappearing act. In reaction, the Texans worked a steal of a trade for the Bills' Eric Moulds (81 receptions, 4 TD), who is 33 years of age but should free Johnson up nonetheless. The No. 3 receiver figures to be another newcomer, Kevin Walter (19 receptions, 1 TD with the Bengals), a high-effort guy who managed to crack a crowded and talent-rich receiving depth chart in Cincinnati. Beyond those three players, holdovers Derick Armstrong (9 receptions) and Donovan Morgan (4 receptions) are battling for positions along with rookie David Anderson (7th Round, Colorado State), former Saint Derrick Lewis and ex-Titan Jake Schifino. Jerome Mathis (5 receptions, 1 TD), who had two kickoff returns for touchdowns last season, will miss at least the first month with a broken foot. At tight end, former Bronco Jeb Putzier (37 receptions with Denver) knows Kubiak's offense well, and figures to beat out blocking specialist Mark Bruener (2 receptions) for the No. 1 tight end slot. Bennie Joppru, a 2003 second-round draft choice who missed the entirety of the last three seasons due to injury, will likely have to beat out 2006 fourth-round pick Owen Daniels (Wisconsin) in order to make the club.

OL: If Kubiak wishes to have success in Houston, he will have to work wonders with an o-line unit that is going on four years as the laughingstock of the league. The Texans still don't seem to have an answer at the left tackle position, where Seth Wand projects as the starter despite his consistent struggles, and 2006 third-round draft choice Charles Spencer appears to be the next-best option. If one of those players is passable, Chester Pitts should be able to make the transition from tackle to left guard, the position he is best-suited to play. Former Packer Mike Flanagan will take over at center, prompting a full-time move for Steve McKinney to right guard. Zach Wiegert is projected to start at right tackle, though there is hope within the organization that third-round draft choice Eric Winston (Miami (FL)) might be able to unseat him. Free agent acquisitions David Loverne (from Lions) and Ephraim Salaam (from Jaguars) will be counted on to provide depth, and holdovers Fred Weary and Drew Hodgdon should make the club as well.

DL: The face of the defense, if not the franchise, is now end Mario Williams, for better or for worse. As the No. 1 overall pick, the former N.C. State standout figures to have his every move scrutinized, and a team that was woeful at rushing the passer will need him to immediately live up to his billing. On the other side figures to be some combination of pass-rush specialist Antwan Peek (46 tackles, 6 sacks) and the sturdier Jason Babin (35 tackles, 4 sacks), both of whom move back to their natural positions after playing outside linebacker under the previous regime. On the interior, Seth Payne (58 tackles, 4 sacks) still appears to be going strong, and second-year pro Travis Johnson (26 tackles, 1 sack) looks like a star in the making. Ex- Raven Anthony Weaver (33 tackles, 2 sacks with Baltimore) and holdover Robaire Smith (68 tackles, 1.5 sacks) should also be a major part of the tackle rotation. Weaver can also play end, and another free agent pickup N.D. Kalu (30 tackles, 2 sacks with the Eagles) can rush the passer as well.

LB: The change in scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3 prompted the team to use a second-round draft pick on DeMeco Ryans (Alabama), who is being counted on to step into a starting position in the middle right away. Shantee Orr (50 tackles, 7 sacks) and Morlon Greenwood (112 tackles, 2 sacks) are the holdovers on the starting linebacking corps, but both must make more plays than they did in 2005. Waiting in the wings should any of the above falter will be veteran free agent additions Barrett Green and Sam Cowart (85 tackles, 2 sacks with the Vikings), along with holdovers DaShon Polk (93 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and Charlie Anderson (18 tackles, 1 sack). Former starter Kailee Wong (33 tackles, 1 sack), who missed 11 games after tearing his patella tendon last season, is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

DB: Youth will again be served in the Texans secondary, where third-year pro Dunta Robinson (88 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) will man one corner slot, third- year player Glenn Earl (35 tackles, 2 INT) will serve as strong safety, and second-year man C.C. Brown (79 tackles, 1 INT) will be the free safety. That nucleus will have to be better than it was last year, when the Texans finished near the bottom of the league with just seven interceptions in 16 games. The other corner job will be a battle between the underachieving Phillip Buchanon (35 tackles) and career backup Lewis Sanders (30 tackles, 1 INT). The loser of that competition figures to occupy the nickel slot. Patriots castoff Michael Stone (46 tackles) and ex-Chief Dexter McCleon (21 tackles, 2 INT) give the team some veteran depth at the safety and corner spots, respectively. Holdovers Jason Simmons (27 tackles, 1 sack) and Demarcus Faggins (50 tackles) should also make the roster as reserves, though Faggins will miss the start of the season due to a broken foot.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Kris Brown (26-34 FG) still has to be one of the least clutch kickers in the league (remember that 31-yard kick that could have tied the Titans' game last year?), but will be back for his fifth season with the Texans nonetheless. Also returning will be punter Chad Stanley (38.8 avg.). With Jerome Mathis out to begin the season, look for the Texans to turn to Phillip Buchanon (8.4 punt return avg.) on punt returns and rookie Wali Lundy for kickoffs. Long-snapper Bryan Pittman begins his fourth year with the Texans, and is reliable.

PROGNOSIS: Though last year's 2-14 record would suggest differently, the Texans were not in need of a major overhaul, rather a new attitude and some upgrades in key personnel departments. In that regard, Kubiak has already made tremendous strides. The players seem to be buying into what Kubiak is selling (though we'll have to see what happens when his team suffers its first three- game losing streak), and important additions have been made at receiver and within the pass rush, two areas that have lagged behind the rest of the league for years. However, the department where the team needed the most help (say it along with me), the offensive line, is still severely lacking, which is why any dreams of a winning season in Houston must remain just that, dreams. The organization is moving in the right direction, but won't be consistent enough offensively to contend for at least another year.

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