INDIANAPOLIS – Houston endured a difficult 2013 season almost beyond words by finishing 2-14 after winning its first two games.
The Texans won the AFC South in 2011 (10-6) and 2012 (12-4), but fell to fourth in the division.
Gary Kubiak, who suffered a medical event at halftime of the Texans’ home game against the Colts on November 3, was dismissed with three games remaining. Kubiak had been the dean of division coaches.
2013 Record: 2-14, Fourth in AFC South
General Manager: Rick Smith
Head Coach: Bill O’Brien (first season)
Defensive Coordinator: Romeo Crennel (1st season with Texans; previously head coach with Cleveland and Kansas City and coordinator with those teams and New England)
2013 Pro Bowlers: OT-Duane Brown, DE-J.J. Watt
Pending Free Agents: UNRESTRICTED – LB-Bryan Braman, OT-Andrew Gardner, TE-Garrett Graham, OT-Ryan Harris, WR-Lestar Jean, FB-Greg Jones, RB-Deji Karim, CB-Elbert Mack, LB-Joe Mays, NT-Terrell McClain, NT-Earl Mitchell, LB-Ricky Sapp, LB-Darryl Sharpton, DT-Antonio Smith, OG-Wade Smith, RB-Ben Tate.
Rounds with Draft Picks: 1st round-1st overall, 2nd round-33rd, 3rd round-65th, one pick in rounds 4-7 (rounds 4-7 overall choice not available until compensatory picks awarded, but choice is the first in each round)
Estimated Salary Cap Space: $4.0 million
Off. Rank (AFC/NFL): Total – 347.3 (5/11); Rushing – 108.9 (10t/20t); Passing – 238.3 (7/15)
Def. Rank (AFC/NFL): Total – 317.6 (2/7); Rushing – 122.4 (11/23); Passing – 195.2 (1/3)
Key Decisions: Houston may be in need of a quarterback with Matt Schaub and Case Keenum splitting time in 2013. Schaub was benched in favor of Keenum during the season and with the first overall choice in hand, Houston could opt to address the future or trade down to acquire more picks. Cap space currently could be a concern. Schaub is reported to hold a $14.5 million cap figure for 2014.
NT-Earl Mitchell is an unrestricted free agent and new coordinator Romeo Crennel uses a prototype 3-4 player at that position. DE-Antonio Smith also has played through his contract. Jared Crick is a five-technique player.
LB-Brian Cushing is coming off a major injury, and he is viewed by some observers as the only viable starter. Darryl Sharpton and Joe May also are scheduled to be UFAs. Depth could be a concern on this unit.
Offensively, OG-Wade Smith is a UFA, while OT-Brennan Williams was injured in 2013 and is somewhat of an unknown entity. In the backfield, Arian Foster was hindered by injuries and Ben Tate is set to be a UFA.
QUOTE-UNQUOTE: Rick Smith (on when taking a big-picture look, what team is missing) “Big picture, when you have the kind of the season that we had and you lose that many games, especially that many games in a row, they’re a lot of things that we’ve got to fix. You hear a lot of talk about how there’s a quick turnaround. Potentially, there could be because we’ve had some recent success, but really we’ve had to be honest. It’s been tough to look at our team and to look at our organization all the way through. Obviously, it’s tough to make some of the changes that we made, but we do think, as we have evaluated the season, our team, our processes, everything about our organization, that we’ve put ourselves on a good path to get better again.” Smith (on if there is ownership pressure to take a QB) “The good thing about that is the ownership. Our owner will not put that kind of pressure on us to respond that way. There’s a certain amount of discipline that’s necessary in this process, that you have to exercise in order to block out all of those other distractions. Where that comes into play most is in your evaluation. You can’t evaluate, whether you’re talking about free agents or the draft, you can’t evaluate based on what your current team looks like. You have to remove the need and the current complexion of your roster now in the evaluation process and value players based on just pure value. And then as you work through the draft, you’ve got to take them that way. We tried to do that over the years. That requires a certain amount of discipline to do it. I don’t think that we’re going to have a problem with that.” Bill O’Brien (on if he has a notion for an ‘ideal’ QB looks like since his at New England and Penn State both were about 6-4) “I look for what’s best for the team. There’s no way that you label yourself that you like this type of quarterback or that type of quarterback. You look for what’s best for the team and how does he fit the type of things that you’re going to do on both sides of the ball, whether it’s a quarterback or any other position. I’ve been around quarterbacks that are 6-5, and I’ve been around quarterbacks that are 5-10. Both types were very successful with the things that we did offensively. We’re just looking for the best at any position – whether it’s quarterback or not – the best fit for our team, our roster, our organization.” O’Brien (on how wide open Houston’s draft options are) “It’s a staff evaluation process, a team process. We’re always going to do what’s best for the organization. We’re only a month a half into this process and what people need to understand is it takes a long time. It’s not something that you develop your thoughts right away. These are a lot of discussions, and all those things that go into this decision and that’s what we’re in the process of doing.”