5 Reasons the Houston Texans Will Win the Super Bowl
Sportswriters, analysts and broadcasters seemed to be jumping left and right onto the Texans' bandwagon, with many claiming that the Texans were the favorites to represent the AFC in the game that every fan dreams of winning.
The Texans seemed to be on the path of becoming Super Bowl Champions.
If Reliant Stadium was full of Texans' fans when that heartbreaking report was released, one could probably hear a pin drop, perhaps multiple ones.
The dream that was finally oh so close had been ripped apart to pieces.
Now, the Texans will look to prove to the rest of the NFL that they are still a force to be reckoned with, and that they will never stop until the long-sought after dream is finally achieved.
Here are the reasons why the Houston Texans will win the Super Bowl this upcoming season.
Devastating injuries can strike any NFL team at any point throughout the year, yet the Texans seemed especially hard-hit by the injury bug last season.
Matt Schaub, Matt Leinart, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Mario Williams, Danieal Manning, Mike Brisiel and Darryl Sharpton were all lost to injuries, either for the entire season or considerable amounts of it.
Arian Foster, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson only played one quarter of football together on the field at the same time. One quarter!
The Texans entered the playoffs with T.J. Yates, a third-string rookie quarterback who was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft, at the helm of the offense.
Many predicted this fact would cause the Texans to falter against the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild-card round of the playoffs, yet the Texans prevailed, and by a large amount at that. Then, Yates and the injury-ridden Texans narrowly lost to the Baltimore Ravens in a nail-biter of a game that was decided by only one touchdown and an insurmountable amount of Texans turnovers (or Jacoby Jones' muffed punt near the goal line, depending on who you like to blame).
Now, the Texans look like they will be heading into the regular season with all of their key players on offense and defense still healthy and intact.
If the three-headed monster of Foster, Johnson and Schaub can manage to stay relatively healthy for the majority of the 2012 season, then the Texans have the opportunity to have one of the most effective offenses in the NFL.
While it is impossible to predict how healthy a team will be at the end of the season, it would be safe to say that it would be highly unlikely for the Texans to suffer the same amount of injuries to important players on both sides of the ball than they did last season.
An injury-plagued Texans team showed just how competitive they could be in Weeks 6-14 of last year's regular season and also in the playoffs. Now imagine just how dangerous a much more healthy Texans team could perform.
It will imperative for the Texans to stay healthy this upcoming season, and if they do, a chance to win the Super Bowl would be much closer.
Phenomenal Pass Rush
If a team wants to win in the pass-happy league that is the NFL, then they must find a way to counter the passing attacks of the elite quarterbacks.
The best way to do that is to employ a super bona fide pass rush that can make any NFL quarterback, including the likes of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, cower like a frightened David Carr in the face of oncoming pressure.
This was a huge reason for the New York Giant's Super Bowl victory, as their incredible pass rush of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka tormented every quarterback they came across.
The Bulls on Parade defense has this incredibly important asset, and the Texans finished ranked sixth overall in terms of total sacks last season.
The Texans' pass-rushers seemed to swarm to the quarterback on nearly every single play, and the complex blitz schemes that Wade Phillips drew up allowed the defense to attack the quarterback often.
When one combines incredible athletes at pass-rushing positions and an experienced, knowledgeable defensive coordinator, it is almost a certainty that sacks and quarterback hurries will be produced at an exceptional rate.
If and when the Texans come across an elite quarterback in the playoffs or Super Bowl, their young and talented front seven will give the defense a chance to dominate the game.
An Improved Secondary
Is it even possible for the second ranked passing defense in the NFL to improve over the course of one offseason without any free agent acquisitions?
Yes, yes it is.
Everyone knows that Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning will continue to produce and be playmakers for the Texans defense. It is also nearly a certainty Glover Quin Jr. will have another solid season in the secondary.
The real wild card, though, is Kareem Jackson. For the past two seasons, Jackson has received nothing but criticism from fans and media alike, and for good reason.
The highly-touted Alabama recruit never seemed to play to his potential, and he struggled with everything to staying somewhat close to his assignment to not being able to locate the ball after it was thrown.
Jackson, however, seems like he has finally turned the corner in his short NFL career. A full offseason spent learning from the praised cornerbacks coach, Vance Joseph, has certainly benefitted Jackson, as well as getting to work with his fellow cornerback, Pro Bowler Johnathan Joseph.
Vance Joseph and Johnathan Joseph have both noticed a tremendous improvement in Jackson's play this offseason, and decided to share those sentiments with Houstontexans.com
“He’s improved so much from the spring to the fall,” Vance Joseph said. “His technique is really, really good. His confidence is at an all-time high. He’s making plays on the ball."
"The first time we had a chance to come out here in OTAs back in the spring, his first period, he went out there, stayed square in his backpedal," Johnathan Joseph said. "Things they were preaching to him all year long, and he came right out there the first day and just did it the correct way. Everybody in the meeting room, when we saw it, we kind of gave him a round of applause, because that shows your progression or shows you’re maturing on and off the field to take things that were taught to you last year and bring it right back in the spring from the time-off period that we had."
If Jackson truly has greatly improved, then that is a scary prospect for opposing offenses. Jackson was the loophole in the Texans defense last season, and at times, he was the only escape route for opposing quarterbacks.
With the Texans pass-rushers continuously getting after the opposing quarterback, sometimes the only and best option for the quarterback was to quickly find and deliver the ball to Jackson's assignment.
Now, if Jackson can manage to stay with his man much more consistently, then opposing quarterbacks will sometimes have no answer, no escape route when Texans defenders are rushing straight toward him.
The improvement of Jackson gives the Texans a chance to have by far one of the most dominant defenses in the league this season.
An Efficient, Time-Killing Offense
There is a guaranteed way to ensure that quarterbacks of Aaron Rodger's, Tom Brady's and Drew Brees' caliber will not be able to light up your team.
You just gotta keep 'em off the field.
The Texans offense certainly has the capabilities of consistently doing just that on a week to week basis. Houston had one of the most effective time-killing offenses in the NFL last season, ranking second in the league in average time of possession, second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Texans are able to control the clock by effectively running the ball with Arian Foster and Ben Tate behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
The Texans do not have an offense that can definitely go blow for blow with New England's or Green Bay's, so their ability to control the clock is the only certain way their offense will be able to keep up with the ones led by elite quarterbacks.
One of the most important and best qualities the Texans have as a team is, in fact, their depth. Injuries, sometimes devastating ones, will undoubtedly strike every single team in the NFL.
Injuries are a fact of life in the league, and the teams that are able to best cope with them are often the ones that end jumping up and down in a pure moment of glee at the conclusion of the NFL season.
In 2010, the Green Bay Packers had the second-most injured team in the NFL in terms of their starters, according to this report by Football Outsiders, and coincidentally, the Packers won the Super Bowl that year.
While neither team suffered the injuries to the incredible amount of key starters that the Texans did, the constant here is that the depth of the previous two Super Bowl victors allowed them to prevail over the onslaught of injuries that plagued their teams.
The Texans, too, proved to have great depth last season by being able to play at a high level even without many important players. Nearly every single starter on the Texans, aside for a few, has a solid backup ready to play behind him.
Arian Foster has Ben Tate. Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed have Whitney Mercilus. Matt Schaub has T.J. Yates.
Brian Cushing and Bradie James have Darryl Sharpton, Tim Dobbins and Mister Alexander. Danieal Manning and Glover Quin Jr. have Troy Nolan and Quintin Demps.
All of the backups listed have proven that they can answer the call and play at a high level of the starter in front of them, whether through playing time last season or impressive training camp and preseason performances.
When injuries strike this season, the Texans will clearly be ready.