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Texans Need to Break Through the Wall of Mediocrity

Posted: May 08, 2009

The pressure will be coming from the top for the Houston Texans to have their first winning season and first postseason appearance in their eighth year in the NFL. Dom Capers, who was first coach in Carolina Panthers history, led the franchise for the first four seasons until being let go after a disastrous 2-14 slate in 2005. Gary Kubiak has gone 22-26 in his three seasons at the helm and has the team up to a level of respectability. But taking the next step in the rugged AFC South is what Texans fans are desperately waiting to see in 2009.

It is understandable that expansion Houston would take a few seasons to make the Playoffs, but it still hasn’t happened in a league where quick turnarounds are very possible. The rather bland franchise finally seems to have an identity with All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson and super rookie Steve Slaton on offense and Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans on defense. With those players leading the way, optimism is high in southeast Texas, even though Kubiak’s club has been stuck on 8-8 for two seasons in a row. The Texans came out of the gate 0-4 last season, which included an interruption in the schedule by Hurricane Ike. They rebounded from that tough start to finish the season 8-4 in their last 12 games. That momentum and the league’s third-rated offense in 2008 have Houston fans thinking postseason in 2009.

Even with the current positive vibe, there are still many questions for a team that “has never done it” before. Can quarterback Matt Schaub (10 games missed over the last two seasons) stay healthy for an entire campaign? Can Andre Johnson (1575 receiving yards) and Steve Slaton (1282 rushing yards) repeat their impressive totals from 2008? Can a defensive line comprised of first-round draft picks generate more than 25 sacks (27th in the league) under new coordinator Frank Bush? All of these concerns must be answered for the Texans to finally break through their wall of mediocrity.

The 2009 season will go a long way in defining what the Texans mean to the football fans of Houston. Another .500 or below finish will be met with a ton of skepticism about the organization and when they might ever make the Playoffs. It’s a tough fight in the Lone Star State when you’re competing with the Cowboys and Longhorns for notoriety. With the three of their first four games at home plus a schedule that includes Oakland, Cincinnati and the average NFC West, this is definitely the year for the Texans to finally succeed both on and off the field.

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