Houston Texans State of the Union: Reviewing a Perfect Start

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistOctober 11, 2012

Take a bow, Texans.
Take a bow, Texans.Bob Levey/Getty Images

So far. So good.

Perhaps the best way to recap the Houston Texans' season would be to just type "undefeated," drop the keyboard and walk out of the room.

Doing that would likely break the computer, result in the article not actually getting published, and give you nothing to read while blowing off work.

So in the interest of preserving a perfectly good laptop and contributing to America's declining productivity, here's a look at where the 5-0 Texans stand nearly a third of the way through 2012.


The Good

Let's start with the incomparable play of J.J. Watt. Plenty has already been written about him, but any list of what's going right for Houston has to start with him.

The defense as a whole has been terrific, led by the blitz pressure, but carried along admirably by the play of Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson as well.

The Texans have been strong across the board. on offense.

Arian Foster looks ready for a career year, and Owen Daniels has been a constant. Matt Schaub is playing some of the best football of his life.

As much as people have complained about red zone play, the Texans currently rank sixth in red zone DVOA.

Basically, everything that can go right, has. They've been dominant in every possible way. There's simply little room for improvement.

The Bad

Special teams play has been a problem all year, culminating with the release of Trindon Holliday.

Houston has had no help at all from the return game, and gave up big plays big plays in the kicking game on more than one occasion. The Jets' touchdown on a kickoff nearly led to an upset in Week 5.

The right side of the offensive line has been a problem with neither Derek Newton nor Antoine Caldwell cloaking themselves in glory.

First-round pick Whitney Mercilus has looked utterly lost as well after an outstanding preseason, though obviously the defense hasn't missed his production.


Glass Half-Full

Half-full? Try "full-full and running over."

The Texans are arguably the best team in football right now. They've been outstanding on both sides of the ball.

They run the ball effectively, and pass it nearly as well. They rush the passer and cover as well as any team in the game.

The biggest advantage the Texans have is that the rest of the AFC is crumbling around them. They already have a two-game lead over the Patriots and Chargers, not to mention their dominance of their own division.

Houston is a very good team in a very shallow conference and more often than not that spells Super Bowl.


Glass Half-Empty

The Texans defense has been great, but they've played three of the four worst offenses in football through five games, so what do you expect? They've played the second-easiest defensive schedule in football.

In fact, the Texans have played the third-easiest schedule in football through five weeks. Such a slate of cupcakes does little to prepare Houston for the playoffs and creates a completely false sense of where this team is at.

The Texans have been incredibly healthy early in the year, but the loss of Brian Cushing could prove to be a devastating blow to the defense. Never underestimate the impact of taking away a key linebacker from a defense.

The wideout situation is still a problem. Keyshawn Martin, DeVier Posey and Lestar Jean have combined for just six catches in five games. Kevin Walter is on pace for 566 yards receiving and three scores, a carbon-copy of his 2012 season.

Throwing to Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels will work against teams that are bad, but a good defense is going to have no problem at all limiting the Texans.

Speaking of Johnson, he's on pace for just over 900 yards receiving this year, a function of teams knowing they can take him away without having to worry about any of the other wideouts on the field.

Finally, Arian Foster is on pace for 422 carries. That's enough to break him permanently.

It's easy to see how a tough schedule of better teams could take the shine of the Texans' rose pretty quickly.



The Texans are exactly as good as expected. Everyone knew their early-season schedule was going to be manageable, so the fact that they are 5-0 isn't exactly a stunner.

The schedule does get more challenging, and they will drop games along the way, but given the obvious decline of teams like Green Bay and Tennessee, it's fair to bump the Texans up a couple of wins over earlier projections.

12-4 seems like a reachable goal for Houston, depending on how badly they need a win in Week 16 to nail down home-field advantage in the playoffs.

As long as everyone stays healthy, Houston should cruise into the postseason prepared to take the next step toward New Orleans.


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