Texans fans would rather just put the 2013 season behind them and look to 2014 than play the "What went wrong?" game.
Unfortunately, Gary Kubiak, Matt Schaub and countless other coaches and players weren’t able to just move along and look to this year. A preseason Super Bowl contender finishing 2-14 with 14 straight losses to end the year is a rarity in the NFL, and changes had to be made in every area.
Enter first-time head coach Bill O’Brien, a man who faced far greater adversity at Penn State when he led that team to a surprising eight-win season in 2012 following the Joe Paterno/Jerry Sandusky fallout. O’Brien is from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, but he has his own style. He inherits a veteran locker room with a host of talented players, including 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and perennial Pro Bowl selections Arian Foster, Duane Brown, and Andre Johnson.
But will everyone in Houston simply be able to pick up the pieces after what was a very ugly 2013? Will Johnson, an 11-year veteran who’s never made it past the divisional round of the playoffs, report to training camp on time? Will Brian Cushing, a star linebacker when healthy, be able to return to his former self after his second season-ending injury in three years? And what version of Foster are the Texans getting as he returns from a serious back injury?
Perhaps the most important question in Houston, though, is whether the team can compete in a loaded AFC with Ryan Fitzpatrick as its starting quarterback. O’Brien and GM Rick Smith passed on selecting a quarterback in the draft’s first three rounds, didn’t court any higher-profile names in free agency and will enter camp with Fitzpatrick as the No. 1, Case Keenum as the likely No. 2 and rookie Tom Savage as the third name on the depth chart. Fitzpatrick has started 77 career games but has never led a team to a record of .500 or better.
No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney could be a revelation alongside Watt in Romeo Crennel’s hybrid defensive scheme, but the Texans are going to need one of their quarterbacks to exceed expectations if the team is going to make 2014 a season to remember. The bright side, of course, is that it can’t possibly be worse than 2013.
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