Right now, all is quiet in Houston. The local convenience store is a ghost town, the freeways are barren and storm clouds are rolling in.
Yes, to say that it has become a dark day in Houston isn't an exaggeration. Fans are distraught that there will be no Texans game to look forward to next week after their magical run finally went out with a whimper in downtown Baltimore this afternoon.
But as the bandwagon is emptying and the local radio is calling for the coaches to tender their resignations, you won't find none of that here. No, I am here to tell you why not only should Texans fans not be sad after this loss, but they should be happy.
I know it's hard to convince fans to cheer up after their first experience of a playoff loss, but there is a ton to be excited about for this football team going forward. Still need some convincing? Follow me.
First of all, this team has some of the most amazing depth I've ever seen at the pro level. The whole "Next Man Up" thing seemed like a flashy gimmick at first, but over the course of the season guys stepped up and went above and beyond expectations to keep this team playing at a high level.
Guys like Brooks Reed, Troy Nolan, Lawrence Vickers, Quinton Demps and T.J. Yates were forced into duty earlier than expected and they all excelled higher than most of us ever thought possible. And the better thing is that almost all of these guys are coming back for the 2012 season. Except for Mario Williams, all of the key guys are under contract already or have little doubt about them being re-signed (i.e. Chris Myers).
Next, you got the rookies like the aforementioned Brooks Reed and J.J. Watt. These two guys are only going to get better with more experience and some time in Wade Phillips' defensive scheme. Reed's play has been so terrific that not only does it raise the possibility of the team letting Mario walk, but it is starting to seem like the smart thing to do. Which brings us to the team improving in the offseason.
It's early, but what are your expectations of the Texans in the 2012 season?
With this roster, and likely the entire coaching staff returning next season, things already look good, and the Texans, once healthy, are already going to be considered Super Bowl contenders as is. But add to that another draft and free agency and the team could go from contenders to favorites.
If the team lets Mario walk and then get a big addition to the receiving unit like a Reggie Wayne, then they know what to address in the draft, and things will be looking good. Remember, we get free agency this year before the draft unlike last year. If Rick Smith can hit in free agency and have another homerun of a draft like this year, the sky is the limit.
Lastly, we have to stand back and admire what this team accomplished this season. They lost arguably their best defensive and offensive players for the season. Arian Foster missed time and Andre Johnson was out for a huge chunk of the year and this team was only two wins away from the Super Bowl.
No matter what happened today, I just can't get mad at them. It was an amazing season and I couldn't be more proud of them.
Another year with this defense under the tutelage of Wade Phillips can only make a defense that finished second in the entire league even better. I said in my game recap that I felt like this game against Baltimore was a passing of the torch to the next elite defense in the NFL, and to all of those scared that Wade Phillips will leave, I just don't see it.
I think this entire team and coaching staff feels like this is unfinished business. With a top defense and an offense that will be capable next year of doing the same, this team could be flat out ridiculous.
If that don't make you smile, I don't know what will.