2011 will be the most important season in the history of the Houston Texans. That sounds like hyperbole, but if you assess all that is stake this upcoming year, it is not exaggeration.
Another .500 or worse season will surely mean another firing of a head coach and subsequent hiring of a replacement. That would mean two coaching regimes with zero playoff appearances for the city of Houston.
The difference between 2011, if it is the last for Gary Kubiak, and 2005 is that most people didn’t see the 2-14 collapse coming for Dom Capers’ final season. The 4-12, 5-11, and 7-9 seasons that preceded 2005 suggested progression that did not indicate the worst record in the NFL.
This will not be the case for 2011. Not only is it all but certain that a failure for the Texans to make the postseason again will mean another rebuilding effort, but to make the stakes higher the Texans are implementing a completely new defensive scheme that must succeed in its first year.
In times like these, success or failure of a team is determined by that team’s core players. While all 33 starters will play a role, a handful of players will have to either improve or maintain their level of performance to finally obtain the franchise’s first playoff appearance.
So who are those players that so much is resting on for the Texans? I decided to lay out my best guess at the 10 Texans whose play will determine the fate of the team and likely of the coaching staff.
This list is likely incomplete given that players will likely (and hopefully) be added through free agency. It is also important to note that while a lot hinges on the defense in its first year in the 3-4 scheme, the offense must maintain their proficiency for the Texans to have a chance at the postseason.
Here is my list of the ten most important players for the Houston Texans in 2011. If you have any thoughts of your own, let me know in the comments or on twitter (@JakeBRB).