INDIANAPOLIS – Houston captured its second straight AFC South title in 2012 with a 12-4 record. Helping account for the record was a 29-17 home win over the Colts on December 16 and a 28-16 loss in Indianapolis to conclude the regular season. A look at the Texans:
2012 Record: 12-4, First in AFC South, 1-1 in playoffs
Playoff Results: Beat Cincinnati, 19-13 (Wild Card); Lost at New England, 41-28 (Divisional).
General Manager: Rick Smith
Head Coach: Gary Kubiak (59-53 regular season; 2-2 playoffs)
Offensive Coordinator: Rick Dennison
Defensive Coordinator: Wade Phillips
2012 Pro Bowlers: LT-Duane Brown, TE-Owen Daniels, RB-Arian Foster, WR-Andre Johnson, CB-Johnathan Joseph, C-Chris Myers, QB-Matt Schaub, LG-Wade Smith, DE-J.J. Watt
Pending Free Agents: UNRESTRICTED – CB-Alan Ball, LB-Connor Barwin, T-Rashad Butler, G-Antoine Caldwell, FB-James Casey, NT-Shaun Cody, SS-Quintin Demps, LB-Tim Dobbins, RB-Justin Forsett, LB-Keyaron Fox, K-Shayne Graham, OT-Ryan Harris, LB-Bradie James, P-Donnie Jones, DB-Brice McCain, LB-Jesse Nading, FS-Glover Quin, DB-Stanford Routt, LB-Barrett Rudd; RESTRICTED – T-Andrew Gardner; EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS – LB-Mister Alexander
Rounds with Draft Picks: 1st round-27th overall, 2nd round-57th, 3rd round-89th, one pick in rounds 4-7 (rounds 4-7 overall choice not available until compensatory picks awarded)
Estimated Salary Cap Space: 8.9 million
Off. Rank (AFC/NFL): Total – 372.1 (3/7); Rushing – 132.7 (4/8); Passing – 239.4 (5/11)
Def. Rank (AFC/NFL): Total – 323.3 (4/7); Rushing – 97.5 (4/7); Passing – 225.8 (7/16)
Key Decisions: One thing Houston could address is the number two wide receiver, the one opposite Andre Johnson. Johnson is a veteran, and teams must allot for transition periods. Johnson has had injuries the past couple of years, so this is an area the Texans might address. It may be the biggest area of need.
Another area of possible target is inside linebacker. Brian Cushing missed most of the year with an injury. Tim Dobbins, an unrestricted free agent, was hurt near the end of last year. It could be a targeted area.
Houston also could look for a right tackle in free agency or in the draft. A nose tackle is a possibility. Shaun Cody is an unrestricted free agent and would command a lot of money. Getting a two-technique tackle might be an avenue of thought. The draft may have enough talent where the Texans could find a stout player for the role.
QUOTE-UNQUOTE: General Manager Rick Smith (on if team is mentally tough following playoff losses) “I think we are a mentally tough football team. I think what I am seeing is you look at our team and we’ve grown up together. You look at this football team and we’ve been able to keep our players for the most part, together. You look at this group, the offensive line, our receivers, our tight end, our quarterback, our defense, we’ve got guys who have been in some battle-tested situations. What I am saying is in order to win in this league, you’ve got to go through something in order to develop the experience to, whenever you need to in those situations, make plays. That’s how I look at it, because I’ve got to look at this thing big picture. When I look at our football team and the evolution of our program, I see a group of players that have continued to get better, we’re continuing to improve, we’re going to continue to add players, which is what this weekend is all about. I see a group of men that have gotten the experience that’s necessary to go make a real run at it, and I think that’s where we are right now.” Head Coach Gary Kubiak (on finding a second WR) “I think that continues to be right now a big focus for us as an organization. We drafted a few young guys last year. I do have a young guy in Lestar Jean that I think a lot of. DeVier Posey was making big, big progress and now we're dealing with a significant injury that is going to take some time. I think it’s important that we continue to strengthen our team in that area. Andre is in year 11, or something like that now. We’ve got to find some other guys to continue to produce alongside of him.” Kubiak (on developing the QB depth in draft) “You're always looking to do that. I have a young player in T.J. (Yates) who I think a lot of. He goes from playing a lot of football, starting a playoff game to basically not doing much of all this year, having maybe 10 snaps, that was tough. I have a young player in Case Keenum, I think a lot of who came a long way for me last year. I feel good about those guys pushing Matt (Schaub). In this business, you better be looking for young quarterbacks you think have a chance to be a 10, 12-year guy. This year will be no different.”