Although the Texans only have a combined nine
wins in their two seasons in the league, they are very much a team on the rise, and will be a feared foe throughout the NFL in 2004. The Texans are
led on offense by a young trio- QB David Carr, 25, RB Domanick Davis, 23, and WR Andre Johnson, 23. Now having a season together under their belt,
they should perform better and develop faster, not to mention improve an offense that ranked dead-last in the AFC and scored under 16 PTS/G. On
defense, well, it wasn't that good either.
Ranked last in the AFC as well, the Texans allowed a pathetic 380 YPG and just under 24 PTS/G. That should get better, though, with the addition of
free-agents DT Robaire Smith and CB Eric Kelly, and first-round picks CB Dunta Robinson and LB Jason Babin. On paper, the Texans have a pretty good
football team, but the depth just isn't there yet. The foundation is set, and even if the Texans don't make the playoffs this season, they're only a
year or two away from becoming a perennial contender. At the very least, they should do better than last year.
The Texans have a lot of potential at running
back with two talented youngsters to lean on in Domanick Davis and Tony Hollings. Davis emerged as a solid all-around back as a rookie, displaying
effectiveness as a runner, receiver, and a blocker. But there are concerns about his durability and whether he can hold up for an entire season as the
feature back.. Hollings is very inexperienced as a running back and he is coming off a knee injury that shortened his college career, but he should
receive more carries this year to help keep Davis fresh later as the season rolls on. Jonathan Wells will likely be the primary backup behind Davis
and Hollings, but he lacks explosiveness and will probably never be anything more than a backup. Moran Norris will return as the starter at fullback,
and he is a solid blocker, but he is a one-dimensional player who adds little as a runner or receiver.
The Texans have one of the best young receiving corps in the league, as Andre Johnson (66 receptions, 4 TD), Jabar Gaffney (34 receptions, 2 TD), and
Corey Bradford (24 receptions, 4 TD) only figure to get better with age. Tight end Billy Miller (40 receptions, 3 TD) will be another reliable target
for Carr over the middle, and Mark Bruener, formerly one of the best blocking tight ends in the league with the Steelers, will be featured in
short-yardage and double-tight situations. The Texans will look to get off to a quick start, as San Diego (9/12 at home) and Detroit (9/19 on the
road) appear on the schedule in weeks one and two. Home-and-homes with division rivals Tennessee (10/17 on the road, 11/28 at home) and Indianapolis
(11/14 on the road, 12/12 at home) will be difficult, and trips to Kansas City (9/26), and Denver (11/7) also loom large. The season closes with
winnable contests against Chicago (12/19 on the road), Jacksonville (12/26 on the road), and Cleveland (1/2 at home).
The Texans appear to be a team that is ready to really put things together on the offensive side of the ball. Andre Johnson looks like a play maker
and Dominick Davis should just continue to get better on the ground. And with three potential weapons to choose from at receiver, David Carr must be
licking his chops just waiting for the season to begin. Defensively, there are still questions to answer and some young guys are going to have to step
forward, but overall they appear to be better than last year's squad... especially in the secondary. If the Texans can get off to a good start, I
think they have the potential to make a run at the playoffs, although playing in a tough division might make that a tough goal to fulfill. However, an
8-8 season is very realistic and would be a nice stepping stone for the future.
[Edited on 13/9/04 by TRD]