As the 2011 NFL season prepares to get underway, the Houston Texans have poised themselves to make a serious run for the AFC South title. This team has some of the best offensive talent in the NFL, but are they the best Houston has ever had?
Some of the stats included may come as a surprise, but when it comes down to the numbers, these are the best offensive NFL players who have ever called Houston home.
Best Houston Quarterback: Matt Schaub
Now, I know that most readers will already be questioning my rationale here by calling Matt Schaub the best QB in Houston history, but let's look at the stats.
Matt has played as the starting QB for Houston for three years (2007-10). In that time he has a 65.9% completion rating for 14,424 yards. Additionally, he has thrown 77 touchdowns and 46 interceptions. He has an overall 93.5 QB rating while averaging 267.1 yards/game.
In comparison, Warren Moon, whom most would argue is the best QB in Houston history, played nine years in Houston (1984-93).During his career as QB Warren had a 57.9% completion rating for 33,685 yards. He threw 196 touchdowns and 166 interceptions. His QB rating was an 80.4 while he averaged 238.9 yards.
Assuming that Matt Schaub maintains his current pace, he will surpass Warren Moon in passing yards and touchdowns in seven years, two less than Moon.
Honorable Mention: Warren Moon, George Blanda, Dan Pastorini
Best Houston Running Back: Earl Campbell
He had four games where he rushed for more than 200 yards, in a single season. He also had 11 games in which he rushed for more than 100 yards, again in a single season. He led the league in rushing for three consecutive years and had four consecutive years where he rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
Additionally, he holds Houston records for: most career touchdowns (73), most touchdowns in a single season (19), most rushing touchdowns in a single game (4), most rushing yards in a single season (1,934) and most career rushing yards (8,574).
There is nobody in Houston football history that can come close to those numbers as it currently stands. Assuming that breakout sensation Arian Foster remains with the Houston Texans long enough, and stays healthy, he could possibly surpass Campbell's numbers.
Honorable Mention: Arian Foster, Domanick Williams, Lorenzo White
Best Houston Wide Receiver: Andre Johnson
He is considered by many in the NFL, to be the best wide receiver playing today.
In his seven years as a Texan, he has amassed 9,164 yards receiving and has racked up 50 receiving touchdowns doing so. He averages 13.6 yards/reception, 79.7 yards/game, and has only fumbled the ball seven times in his career.
Comparably, the receiver I would consider second to Andre, Ernest Givens, racked up 7,935 yards in eight years and had 46 career touchdowns with the Oilers. His average 14.6 yards/reception bests Andre, but his 57.5 yards/game and 15 career fumbles do not.
Honorable Mention: Ernest Givens, Drew Hill, Ken Burrough
Best Houston Tight End: Owen Daniels
For the Houston Texans, tight ends seem to be a dime-a-dozen. However, one TE stands out among them all, and that is Owen Daniels.
In his four years with the team (2006-10) Daniels has caught passes for 2,972 yards and 17 touchdowns. He averages 12.1 yards/reception and 45.7 yards/game. Additionally, his ability to pass block contributes to the passing yards of QB Matt Schaub.
The second-best TE in team history, Alvin Reed, received for 2,818 yards over his five years with the team (1967-72). He had 11 receiving touchdowns in his career with the team. He averaged 14.2 yards/reception and 34 yards/game.
Honorable Mentions: Alvin Reed, Bob McLeod, Jim Beirne
Best Houston Punt/Kick Returner: Billy Johnson
In a game where every yard counts, those players who return kicks and punts are often overlooked. Fortunately, I'm not one to overlook them.
Kick returns and punt returns are two completely different animals. One could argue that players should be separated into their own respective roles, but for the sake of history I am combining the two.
Billy Johnson (1974-79) is the standout player for Houston when it comes to kick and punt returns. In his five years with the team, he achieved 2,040 yards on punt returns and 2,902 yards on kick returns. His averages were 13.2 yards/punt return and an astounding 24 yards/kick return.
Second to Billy Johnson was Carl Roaches (1980-84), who had 1,095 yards on punt returns and 3,276 yards on kick returns. He averaged 7.3 yards/punt return and 21.8 yards/kick return during his time with the team.
Honorable Mention: Carl Roaches, Jacoby Jones, J.J. Moses
Best Houston Punter: Jim Norton
When it came to football, Jim Norton was a machine. Not only was he a stellar punter, but he also played safety for the Houston Oilers and was named a four-time AFL safety All Star.
During his seven years with the team (1961-68), he managed 522 punts for a total of 21,961 yards. While not the best in team history, his punting average was 42.1 yards/punt. Norton still holds the team record for longest punt when he punted a booming 79-yard moonshot.
Second to Norton is the more modern punter Chad Stanley (2002-06). Stanley punted for a total 17,908 yards while averaging 41 yards/punt.
Honorable Mention: Chad Stanley, Cliff Parsley, Greg Montgomery
Best Houston Kicker: Kris Brown
When considering who the best kicker is in Houston NFL history, I had to consider both accuracy and longevity with the team. There were multiple kickers who were deadly accurate but only remained with the team for a year or two. After crunching the numbers, I have come to the following conclusion.
Kris Brown (2002-09) is the overall best kicker in Houston NFL history. He averaged 77.1% made kicks (172/223) for 516 team points while also managing to average a 99.2% PAT average (251/253) for another 251 team points.
The only players who can even come close to those numbers are Toni Fritsch (1977-81), who made 77.1% of his field goals and George Blanda (1960-66), who made 98.4% of his PATs.
Honorable Mentions: Toni Fristch, George Blanda, Tony Zendejas