DL, Robaire Smith, Seth Payne, Gary Walker
The names look really good on paper. Smith is young, new, and going to be around for a while I think. He's new to the 3-4 and this is his first season so I expect him to improve this year. Payne is coming off his injury from last season and seems to be getting back to his old self at times. At others he's less of a force than he once was. The one thing I can say for Walker is that when he goes out and gets replaced by one of our "depth" the defense doesn't seem to lose anything. The simple fact is that our defensive line isn't getting to anyone. I've not seen one opposing QB this season pressured consistently. We're getting picked apart and run over regularly. We're missing something here. Maybe it's speed and maybe it's just a case of Payne needing more time to get back to where he was but this group doesn't look like the 2002 version with Walker, Payne, and DeLoach. That group stopped up holes and created pressure on their own. That group had Jeff Posey sacking the QB on a regular basis. This group isn't getting it done.
Overall I'd say the Texans need another lineman who can occupy two guys. Payne used to be that guy and maybe he will be again. Walker also used to be that guy and between them they gave the 2002 linebackers opportunities. This year they aren't pulling their weight.
LB, Kailee Wong, Jay Foreman (up until today), Jamie Sharper, Jason Babin
Before I go into this I have to say that I'm a Foreman hater. I can't talk about Foreman objectively because I've been steadily hating on this guy since his bonehead play cost us a game against his former team in 2002. I find it amazing that this guy is still starting for us. Having said that I'm not too terribly unhappy with the linebackers since the team came into the league. Sharper has been better in the past but he's still about as good as we get back there. Today's game against the Jets wasn't his finest but how many Texans can say it was. I think Wong was a good pickup but he belongs in the middle. He's done good things on the outside from time to time but he's a middle linebacker and nothing's going to change that. Foreman is a liability and that's all I'm going to say. Babin I've been pleased with thus far and being a rookie he's going to need some time to make the transition.
In the 3-4 the linebackers and defensive line are so interdependent where the pass rush is concerned that it's impossible to talk about the job one is doing without mentioning the other. Taking that into account I'm a believer that the Texans should have started Wong in the middle from the start of the season, brought Peek in to play where Wong was and sat Foreman. I keep reading about how Peek can't play the run and how Peek is going to be a liability against the run. Well, do the Texans stop the run with Foreman in there and Wong on the outside? How much worse can it get when every week someone is running all over you? Teams are killing us with the run AND killing us with the pass so why not at least try and stop one of the two? How much worse can the run defense be with Peek in there?
Secondary, Aaron Glenn, Marcus Coleman, Glen Earl, Dunta Robinson.
I think this unit takes more abuse than it should and I like the secondary that the Texans have put together. The lack of any pressure on the QB has put these guys in bad spots all year long and it will continue to happen until they get someone on the QB's tail regularly. Glenn was a brilliant pickup as was Coleman in the expansion draft. Robinson, like AJ is everything he was advertised and Earl I suspect might be the steal if this past draft. They're going to continue getting burned until we can rush the passer but they're for real.
so what do we have here in the 2004 Houston Texans? What have the Texans built up till now? Well, in a few places things look pretty good but overall I don't think we've got the future contender we thought we had. Specifically they've made a complete mess of the offensive line since day one and that unit is far behind the teams overall growth. It's affected every aspect of the team by being unable to protect Carr or block for first James Allen, then Jonathan Wells. When it finally reached a point where it began to look effective the Texans decided to rebuild it and teach it a new way of doing things and effectively negated a large part of the progress that had been made. On the defensive side of the ball the Texans have serious problems getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and give up the run like they think it's a good thing. this season is the worst I've seen the defense look so far. A defense made up of street free agents on the line looked more effective at the end of last year against the Colts and Titans than these guys have in weeks. I'm just about ready to start lobbying for Ioane, Sears, and DeLoach. At least those guys played their tails off.
In addition I want to know where the depth is that the Texans have been so busy getting over the last couple of years. From my perspective on offense we're two QB's deep (Carr and Banks), Two RB's deep (Davis and Wells), Four WR's deep (Johnson, Gaffney, Armstrong, and Bradford), completely lacking a "complete" TE just like we've been since day one, and completely screwed if a reserve offensive lineman has to come in. Defense is better but then other than in the secondary we're playing so poorly that it would be hard for a backup to do anything bad enough to stand out. Peek I think would be an upgrade but aside from that the starters have played a mediocre season. They don't look as good as the reserves who stepped in for them a year ago.
Call this a long rant if you wish but I look at what the Texans have built in the last three years and I can't help but be underwhelmed.