Oh So Close, But Still So Far Away

January 5, 2010 by

Well the 2009 NFL season has ended for our Houston Texans and still no playoff berth.  That is the bad news.

The good news is that our favorite team has posted their FIRST winning record in their short 7 years in the league.

So as we all prepare to watch Indy and everyone else play on into the post season it is time to look back at the Texans season and try to find the problems that remain with the team and what to fix for next year.

With this in mind lets look at some stats from this year.  The offense lead the way this year (as usual) ranking #10 in the league overall.  While that may sound pretty good to you let’s look deeper into that ranking.

The Texans ranked #1 in passing yards per game, but #30 in rushing yards per game.  That needs to change if we want to make a run at the playoffs.  As part and parcel of that is our 3rd down conversion rate (40.2%) which ranks #15 in the league.  The team ranked #17 in offensive penalties which isn’t great but is better than average.  Another decent offensive stat is time of possession where we ranked #11.  Again, not great but better than average.

The reason behind our #1 ranking in passing yards has many facets.  The Texans have the most prolific passer and receiver in the league in Matt Schuab and Andre Johnson.  Couple that with a lack of a rushing game and you get the #1 spot in passing yards.

The defense started out the season vvveeerrrryyyy slow but quickly picked up their game.  The D ended the season ranked #17 overall in the league which, considering how many yards and points they gave up early in the year, is pretty good.  They ranked #13 in yards per game, #12 in rushing yards per game, but only #21 interceptions.  Couple that with a #19 ranking in forced fumbles and you start to see where the problem was.  A #15 rank in tackles isn’t to bad but a #25 ranking in sacks tells you something.

After looking at the defensive numbers and watching the games it becomes pretty obvious that the secondary is a problem area.  Lack of coverage down field gives the opposing QB targets to throw to before the pass rush can get to him.

The special teams ranked #14 overall with the #10 spot in kickoff yardage, and #14 in kickoff return yardage.  Again, not special but good.  One position of concern is the place kicker.  Kris Brown has been the one bright spot for years on this team, always making the kick when we needed it most, until this year.  While his PATs is still pretty much an automatic, his FGs this year dropped off badly.  I can’t blame him for losing all of the games, I can say that his position needs to be looked at for next year.  Maybe he just had a bad year but some competition at that position can not hurt anything and may help.

If we look back at this past season we see that of our 16 games there was really only one (week one against the Jets) that we had no chance to win.  Of the other 6 games that the Texans lost they all came down to one or two missed opportunities.  Now I know that most people look at these games and blame it on the offense and turnovers, and yes that hurts, but I look at these games and see the defense.

The Texans had leads or where tied going into the second half in at least three of these games and let the other team score almost at will in the second half.  As I remember it all of these teams, with the exception of Tenn., did this through the air.  If the secondary had made more plays or had stopped a few long passes these games were wins for the Texans.  It is hard for an offense to see a 10 or 14 point lead disolve before their eyes and then ask them to go out and score another touchdown against a team on a roll.

Yes, you can turn that argument around and say the same thing about the defense but we all know that defense wins championships not offense.  Every team in the league, with that kind of lead at half time, puts their offense on “eat the clock up” mode and relies on the defense to put the game away.

So another season ends for our Texans and we begin the analyzing and “what if”ing for next year.  Enjoy your first winning season and just think how much better next year should be for our favorite team.

Look out league,  the 2010 Texans are coming and they are hungrier than ever.

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