What have we really got here? Part 1
I've been thinking about this since the end of the game and so I'm going to say what I really think. The Texans are progressing very slowly by any way of measuring it.
We're in the latter half of year three and when we began we had nothing. We started with a clean slate and a whole bunch of needs. The coaches and front office has had an expansion draft, three regular drafts, and two free agent signing periods to put this team together. At this point what do we really have right now?
QB. David Carr, Tony Banks, Dave Ragone, BJ Symmons.
As a starter David Carr is still very much a question mark. His physical skills are without question but his growth is I think somewhat dissappointing. Carr spent his rookie year as a tackling dummy and still shows signs of the beating he took. He's got a disturbing tendancy to check down to his safety valve very quickly and a knack for calling an audible to a run at the worst possible time. His accuracy is no better than it was in his rookie year and if anything it seems to be dropping off as his third year concludes. At this point he still looks like he can't read an NFL defense to save his life. Banks is a typical NFL career backup type so no complaints there. Ragone is a giant question mark. A QB taken in the third round when the Texans needed help in a dozen different places. To date he's shown us nothing. Symmons is still up in the air but at least he didn't cost us a #3
Overall I'd say the Texans QB decisions have been at best average. Carr has not progressed enough and Ragone was flat out a waste of a pick when other needs were greater. Banks was an easy enough decision to make but every year you can sign a non-starting caliber vet to do that duty.
RB. Domanick Davis, Jonathan Wells, Tony Hollings.
Domanick Davis has skills. We've seen them and hope to see more of them but if anything he's a bonus, a fluke, and nothing more than blind stupid luck. The Texans drafted him in the fourth round to compete for the return job and be their 3rd down back. He's been more than they expected and thank god he has been. Tony Hollings, the second round project back has been next to useless thus far. He's a runningback with precious little experience playing runningback and he's not getting much of it at the rate he's going. To date he's lived on the inactive/injured list and the moment you get him near the field something on him breaks. We all knew Tony Hollings would take time to reach a point where we knew what we had but with his injury problems we're looking at 2013 before he gets on the field. Jonathan Wells was a 2002 4th that did what he could. He's not going to turn into another Clinton Portis but he's a capable backup who seems to be improving. If Davis had been what he was expected to be then Wells would be starting right now or we'd still have Stacy Mack. Think about that.
Overall I'd say the Texans RB decisions have been poor. If they hadn't gotten lucky with Davis there would be no running game to speak of. Wait a second, what am I saying? There's no running game to speak of as it is right now but that's more a line question than a Domanick Davis question I think.
WR, Andre Johnson, Jabar Gaffney, Corey Bradford, Derrick Armstrong
Andre Johnson has been everything he was advertised to be. No complaints here. He's easily been the best Texans player in their short history and he's just getting better. Gaffney has also done ok in my book. He had a slow start but he came into the league young. He's developing though which is more than you can say for many of the Texans players. Corey Bradford was signed before 2002 to be "the speed" which is a good thing because there's no way on earth he could have been "the hands". Derrick Armstrong is going to be sitting in Corey Bradfords spot next season since Corey's going to be cap casualty and Armstrong can catch. AJ has "the speed" covered so Bradford's time is done here.
Overall I'd say that WR is the one place where the Texans have made good decisions in general. AJ was a no-brainer though. I don't think even the Lions could have....oh wait never mind.
OL, Seth Wand, Chester Pitts, Steve McKinney, Zack Wiegert, Todd Wade
The offensive line has been a thing to pity in the first three years of this teams existence. They've not only played poorly, they've played poorly on a scale never before seen in the NFL. 76 sacks is unreal and they may very well have contributed to the non-development of a QB who may have missed a chance to become great as a result. Now granted this particular group had little to do with that but the Texans "brain trust" has truly botched the job of creating an offensive line that's effective. Starting with Boselli and Young they've consistently made poor decisions and are just now playing with a group that have any chance of being together for any length of time. Seth Wand is a first year starter and second year player who's done ok and Chester Pitts is in my mind the best lineman we have. Pity he couldn't be in his third season at LG because he'd be a lot further along. Steve McKinney is nothing special and a liability much of the time. Whatever motivated the Texans when they decided to sign this guy and turn him into a center I'll never know. He gets dominated on a regular basis (still!) and Carr getting pressure up the middle is something Carr has just had to learn to live with. Zach Weigert came in last season and turned in a great performance in the line finally getting it's collective act together. So what do the Texans do? They give him a new guy to play RT next to him and alter their scheme. This season he's been like the rest of them and looked like a player trying to learn something new on the job. Todd Wade is a new addition who we really don't know much about yet. He hasn't been exactly a pillar on the right side but then again he's in a new scheme too.
Overall I think the Texans offensive line woes have been a capital offense. This has much more to do with their previous years than this year but the line in 2004 has to contend with the results. Second system in three years and a revolving door of players has us incapable of run blocking or pass protecting. I don't think I've ever seen a team make more bad decisions trying to put an offensive line together than this. Maybe, just maybe they'll be ok in 2005 but I wouldn't put any money on it. When it comes to depth the Texans seem no better off than they were in 2002. Fred Weary is no closer to being useful now than he was then. Marcus Spears is an instant liability when he comes in for Wade.
TE, Billy Miller, Mark Bruener, Matt Murphy, Bennie Joppru
Billy Miller was an inspired decision (one of the few this team has made) and he's paid off in spades but he's not the TE this team needs. He's an oversized WR who can't block and I'm sure he's got a place on this team but it's not as a starter. His conversion to TE has been iffy at best. Mark Bruener was a move the Texans made that I thought would pay off bigtime but he's been pretty darned ordinary and I think we all know now why the Steelers didn't throw to him too often. Murphy I confess to knowing nothing about but at this point the focus has to be on Joppru who we've never seen in a Texans game. Through no fault of his own he's been healing for going on two years. Does anyone feel really good about what he's going to do in his third?
Overall I'd say the Texans have been the victims of some bad luck when it comes to Joppru and that they've made do with what they had. The end result though is not good. Around the league the TE position has become a huge threat and guess what? We don't have one that strikes fear in anyone. At best we can put in a "We're going to throw" or "We're about to run" package. There's not a complete TE on the roster right now and if Joppru misses another year the Texans need to address this.