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Texans' offseason priorities after best season

The Texans had their best season in franchise history, yet still have work to do to improve their fortunes.

The 2012 season was, by all objective measures, the best in Houston Texans history. They went 13-5. Their quarterback threw for 4,000 yards. Their running back ran for 1,400. One of their defensive linemen recorded one of the best seasons ever recorded by a defensive lineman.


All that, and they were a mile away from beating the New England Patriots. So as the offseason begins, the Texans have some work to do.


10. Improve return game.


Special teams yards are often thought of as hidden yards, and the Texans left gobs of those yards on the field, ranking 23rd in the NFL in average kick return yardage. Maybe the key would simply be to have Danieal Manning return kicks next year. He had two big ones against the Patriots.


9. Continue to acquire linemen.


Whether through the draft or otherwise, the Texans need to continue adding linemen on both sides of the ball. Their most pressing need is on the offensive line. Getting healthy will go a long way there, but taking an offensive lineman in the top half of the draft would not be a bad idea.


8. Get a real fullback.


For crying out loud. And if you find a good one, don't release him after a year. The James Casey Experiment is not working.


7. Be headed in a certain direction with T.J. Yates.


Is he your quarterback of the future or is he your backup quarterback of the future? If he's your backup quarterback of the future, it would not be a bad idea to draft somebody you think has the potential to take over for Matt Schaub when the time comes.


6. Develop a wrinkle.


On offense, we're talking about. Look, the Texans have a good offense. They don't need to change their identity. But doesn't it sometimes seem like the Texans have about seven plays? Besides, the older Andre Johnson gets, the less you can count on him for big plays.


5. Find a big-play receiver.


Maybe Keyshawn Martin, Devier Posey or Lestar Jean is that guy. None have been that guy so far, however. But Kevin Walter, God bless him, isn't scaring anybody.


4. Figure out what you're doing with Ben Tate.


Tate's injury history is a bit of an issue, but he's 24 years old and he has some really good film. He has trade value, is what I'm saying. Given that the Texans don't seem to have any big plans for him, it might be worth exploring his value on the market.


3. Draft a middle linebacker.


Unless a really good veteran becomes available via free agency, the Texans need to make an investment in the position. This year showed how important it is to have depth behind Brian Cushing, and Bradie James isn't getting any younger. This is a potential first-round pick for Houston.


2. Make a serious re-evaluation of coaching philosophy.


At least take some time to study statistical probabilities this offseason. You may find that going for it on fourth-and-1 is not nearly as risky as it seems.


1. Fix the secondary.


For whatever reason, the Texans gave up a disheartening number of huge pass plays this year. It was easily the team's biggest weakness and nearly cost them a playoff game at home against Cincinnati. Whether the problems were with health, talent or scheme is hard for a layman to say, but it will be impossible for the Texans to get even as far as they did this year if 60-yard touchdown passes remain a semi-regular thing.