Tag Archives: Houston

2013-2014 Houston Texans Preview

By: Jon

 

Projected Record: 12-4

AFC South Rank: 1st

Addition:

Andre Johnson
Andre Johnson

For the last few years, the Texans have tried many different receivers in an attempt to find a complement for All-Pro Andre Johnson. For years, the Texans have hoped that Kevin Walter would one day assume that position. However, it never came to fruition so the Texans looked toward the draft to find an adequate complement. The Texans feel that they have finally found the player to play opposite Andre Johnson and that is first round pick DeAndre Hopkins. Although raw out of Clemson, Hopkins has all the physical talent and athleticism to compete against any cornerback. During practice and preseason games, the Texans coaching staff has raved about Hopkins’ ability to catch the football and run after the catch. Foster and Johnson will draw a lot of attention on offense so Hopkins should face one on one coverage for most of the season. When going against a corner one on one, Hopkins should win most of the matchups because he is big and stronger than most of the corners in the NFL. The extra target will only help Matt Schaub improve as a quarterback. Last season, the Texans ranked 11th last season in passing yards per game. They must improve that number if they are going to compete for a Super Bowl. The Texans have one of the most talented rosters in the league and should convert their regular season success, over the last few years, to postseason success. With playmakers, such as Johnson, Schaub, Hopkins, Foster, and Daniels, and a solid offensive line, the Texans should rank inside the top five among offenses in the league.

JJ Watt
JJ Watt

On defense, the Texans made two key signings to improve their linebacking core and secondary. Although Joe Mays took some of Matt Schaub’s ear off during their game against the Broncos, the Texans added Mays because of the benefits he provides to the defense. Mays will add depth to the talented Texans’ defense. Along with Mays, the Texans added one of the greatest safeties of all-time to their secondary. After years with the Ravens, Ed Reed signed as a free agent with the Texans. The Texans are hoping that Reed will help the 16th ranked passing defense from last season. Although Reed has lost a step, he still has the experience and ball hawking ability to be a productive safety for the Texans. Along with Reed, the Texans added DJ Swearinger in the second half to improve the depth at the safety position. In the draft, the Texans added to their defensive line. Along with the DPOY and the best defensive player in the league, Houston selected Sam Montegomery and Trevado Williams in the third and fourth round. Every team needs extra defensive line players because they are big men and need to be changed frequently.

Schedule Analysis:

The Texans will have a great chance of making the playoffs again this season. The Texans are a solid team in a poor division and should win double digit games. The Texans begin the season on Monday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have been in a down turn the last few seasons. The Texans should come out in the season opener and beat the Chargers pretty handily although it is on the road. After the Chargers, the Texans return home against the lowly Titans. Houston in their home opener should come out with a lot of energy and destroy the Titans. After two easy games, the Texans play three of the toughest teams in football, @Ravens, Seahawks, and @49ers.  The Texans will probably win only one of the games because beating the Ravens and 49ers on the road is incredibly difficult for any team. The two games before the bye should be tough wins for the Texans. The Rams are an up and coming team, but should not beat Houston on the road. After beating the Rams, Houston heads to Kansas City to play the Chiefs. The Chiefs may have won the number one overall pick last season, but they are incredibly talented and should surprise a lot of people. The Texans will win, but it will be a tough game.

After the bye, Houston has a tricky schedule that could lead to a few stumbling blocks. The Texans begin the first part of their second half against easy teams. They should win the four games against the Colts, @Cardinals, Raiders, and Jaguars. Houston is playing three of the worst teams in football during the four game stretch so they should be able to rest a few of their stars. After an easy beginning to the second half, the Texans will face the Pats in Houston. After being drubbed twice by the Patriots on the road last season, the Texans should come be extremely motivated and should have the desire to win the game. I think that the Texans will win the game because they will desperately want this win and the Pats are not the same team as last season. After a huge win, Houston will probably face a let down against the Jaguars on the road, but still hold on and win. After the Jags, the Texans head to Indianapolis and play the Colts. The Colts and Andrew Luck should win the game if they have any chance of reaching the playoffs. After playing the Colts, Houston returns home to play the Broncos. The Texans have been known for playing bad games late in the season against good team, and I expect that trend to continue against the Broncos. After the tough loss to the Broncos, they head to Tennessee and play the Titans. The Titans should be their 12th win of the season. The Texans should win the South division and earn the second seed in the AFC and gain a first round bye in the playoffs.

Key Players:

Matt Schaub
Matt Schaub

Matt Schaub must improve as a quarterback if the Texans are going to make serious noise next season in the playoffs. The Texans have one of the most talented team in football and Schaub should not be holding them back from reaching their potential. Among the top teams in football, the Texans have the worst quarterback. Although Schaub is an average quarterback in the league, the Texans need better if they are going to win the Super Bowl. This season, Matt has a good chance of improving because he has another weapon to work with on offense. If Matt can have the success and make the next leap like Joe Flacco, the Texans will be in great shape offensively.

Ed Reed
Ed Reed

On defense, if Ed Reed can rebound from his injury and play productive football for the Texans, their defense will reach new heights. Ed Reed is a ball hawk and a player maker who can quickly convert defense into offense. The combination of JJ Watt and Ed Reed could be lethal for the Texans. JJ Watt ability to rush the passer and deflect passes could enable Reed to pick off passes and return them to the house. Reed is great at reading the opponents eyes and predicting where the ball will be thrown before it is thrown. Every team that wins the Super Bowl is great at turning the ball over and reducing the amount of possessions the opposing team has. Reed will provide veteran leadership to a team that has not won a lot in the playoffs, as well.

 

All pics and stat from espn.com

Does the addition of Dwight Howard make Houston a championship contender?

By: Jon

After two years of the “Dwightmare”, sources are reporting that Howard has signed for th max with the Houston Rockets. Only a year ago, many NBA experts thought that the Rockets had almost no chance of landing the prized center. However, a year has gone by and everything has changed in the NBA. Many people believed that Howard’s roller coaster journey had ended three times, when ESPN reported he was traded to the Nets, when he opted in to stay with the Magic, and finally on August 10, 2012, when he was part of a four team deal that sent him to Los Angeles. However, we were all wrong; the roller coaster ride was just taking another curve. After a disastrous season, the Lakers fired their coach after 5 games, Howard was forced to play with back pain, Lakers faced crippling injuries, Kobe never accepted Howard’s playful demeanor, Kobe hurting his Achilles, and finally Howard’s ejection in Game Four of the first round of the NBA playoffs, many experts believed that Howard would not be returning to the Lakers. Although Kobe had the last word and the Lakers could offer $30 million more dollars than the Rockets, the tumultuous situation caused Howard to reevaluate his options and leave Tinseltown. Although Howard does deserve blame because of how he handled the situation, NBA fans should respect him for giving up $30 million dollars and a chance to live in LA because he felt more comfortable in Houston.

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard

Although the Rockets will have a lot of expectations and talent, they will not be my favorite to win the Western Conference. When Howard is healthy, he is one of the most dominating players this game has to offer. However, his status is uncertain because back injuries do not just heal themselves, especially for big men. Howard was not the same player we saw in Orlando because of the back injury. Although Howard had a great season compared to other centers around the league, 17 ppg, 12 rpg, 2 blk, Howard did not have the same quickness or athleticism because of the back injury. Even if Howard returns to full strength, I do not believe that the Rockets will be the top team in the league or the West. Personally, I do not think Houston’s personal will be good enough to lead Howard to his first championship. Besides for James Harden, one of the league’s brightest stars, the Rockets are devoid of star power. Although many people feel that Chandler Parsons will be a star in the league, I do not share the same opinion. The Rockets will be forced to change their style of play, which will affect their supporting cast. The Rocket players were able to put up gaudy numbers because of their “run and gun” offense, which led to a lot of open transition threes and layups. However, the Rockets will no longer be able to play at such a speed because it does not fit Howard’s game. As seen with the Lakers, Dwight is completely ineffective in that style of play. Players, such as Parsons and Lin, will be a lot less effective in their new style of play. Although Parsons will be successful as a three point shooter, Parsons will be unable to put up the same points or assists numbers, which will denigrate his value as a player. Lin will not be the same player, when the Rockets change their style of play. As seen in New York, when the Knicks were forced to play slow, Lin was not as effective as a player because of his disability to go left and separate from defenders. Lin is not a good shooter, which is what the Rockets will need to spread the floor for Howard and Harden.

James Harden
James Harden

I still believe that the Rockets will be fighting for a top 4 position in the West. I would not be surprised if the Rockets finished 4th, however I would be surprised if they finished first ahead of OKC, Grizzlies, and Spurs. OKC beat the Rockets in 6 games, even though they did not have Russell Westbrook. I would choose Russell Westbrook, Durant, and Ibaka over Howard, Harden, and Parsons. Houston will face tough battle with the Grizzlies, Clippers, and Spurs in the playoffs. The Rocket players have never won, which could be a major problem during playoff time. The Grizzlies and Spurs would have big men that could defend and neutralize Harden and Howard, Grizzlies: Allen and Gasol and Spurs: Leonard and Duncan. I would take the talent and experience of the Grizzlies and Spurs over the Rockets currently, but things can change.

Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant

However, the Rockets will have a chance of bringing the title back to Houston if they can sign Josh Smith. After reports surfaced that Howard would be signing with the Rockets, Omar Asik stated that he would not play with Howard because they share similar positions. Atlanta does not want Smith back on their team, especially for the salary he is commanding. Atlanta and Rockets have expressed interest in a possible sign and trade. The addition of Smith would give the Rockets with one of the most athletic and dynamic rotation in the league. Although many of their players have never won and their bench would be non existent, there starting five should enable them to reach the NBA Finals. In order to overtake the throne, the Rockets must add veteran free agents, who can come off the bench and provide quality minutes. Especially if the Thunder or Spurs do not add another borderline All-Star, expect the Houston Rockets to come out of the West and face the Heat in an epic final.

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Future Lineup:

Lin

Harden

Parsons

Smith

Howard

Stats and pics from ESPN.com

Dwight Howard on the Move

By: Prad and Jon

It looks like Dwight Howard’s stay in Hollywood is nearing its end as sources report that he is attempting to sign a max deal with another team. Howard had a difficult time this season with the Lakers. Part of the problem was being able to coexist with a star- studded roster. He also blames his ability to work within Mike D’Antoni’s system. Whatever the reason may be that Howard wasn’t a good fit in LA, he averaged some pretty bad numbers by his standards. He had his lowest scoring output since his sophomore season (17.1 PPG) and averaged the worst boards per game since his third season in the league (12.4 RPG). Howard will be at the forefront of the free agency period, which begins on July 1. It was previously reported that Chris Paul and him would want to team up and play together next season, but it is confirmed that Paul will remain in Los Angeles and re-sign with the Clippers. Howard’s potential spots for next season include Dallas, Atlanta, and Houston. The latter of which is the biggest possibility.

Chris Paul
Chris Paul

Houston’s Case

James Harden
James Harden

The Rockets will be the first to meet with the center on Sunday night. They will most probably be offering a four year max deal worth $88 million. Although this offer could be surpassed by the Lakers, Texas doesn’t incur an income tax. Also, the Rockets are one of the most international teams in terms of broadcasting because of former talent, Yao Ming and current point guard, Jermey Lin. His brand will become very marketable in Asia. Houston already has a strong team with a star in James Harden, who averaged 25.9 points a game this past season which accounted for 5th in the league. He led the Rockets to the playoffs and a tough fought series with the previous Western Conference Champs, OKC Thunder. The Rockets only have young big men (Thomas Robinson, Donatas Motiejuanas, Tim Ohlbrecht, and Greg Smith) with the exception of Omer Asik who’s going to turn 27 next week. Dwight Howard could serve as a possible mentor to all of this young talent. If he decides to team up with Harden, this core could stay together for at least another five years since Howard is relatively young, 27 and Harden is only 23. The only problem seems to be that Dwight Howard doesn’t necessarily exist well with other talented players, which was exemplified this year with Kobe and Pau Gasol. But, all the pros in this scenario are irresistible for D12 to pass up.

Atlanta’s Case

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Atlanta is in a good position because they have a lot of cap space and a solid power forward/center in Al Horford. Horford is a star and borderline superstar, averaging 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds. Atlanta, unlike other teams, has the ability to sign two stars. However, with the latest news about Paul, it is very unlikely that Howard will sign with his hometown team. If Atlanta could have teamed Howard with Paul and Horford, they would probably be the favorites in the NBA. However, Atlanta can still field a capable team that can compete with Miami and the other east powers. If Atlanta re-signed Josh Smith and signed another star like Andre Iguodala or Brandon Jennings, Atlanta would have a dangerous starting five and at least have a chance at winning the Eastern Conference. Although Dwight Howard grew up in Atlanta, he has never expressed interest in returning. The Hawks have the worst odds of obtaining Howard, which should not come as a surprise.

Dallas’ case

Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki

Although the Mavericks have little chance of winning the championship next season if they sign Howard, they will have a chance the following season because of the financial sacrifice that Dirk Nowitzki is willing to undertake. Currently, Dirk Nowitzki is in the last year of his contract, making over $20 million. Dirk and Dwight would be making over half of the Mavericks’ salary cap. However, Dirk has stated that he would be willing to take a major pay cut to sign another superstar in the 2014 offseason. In 2014, there could be a lot of good free agents that can propel Dallas to the championship. If Nowitzki takes a pay cut, Dallas will be able to sign a big name free agent as well as a number of quality pieces for their bench. Unlike the Rockets, the Mavericks have a championship winning coach, player, and owner. With the help of Mark Cuban, Dwight can become a bigger name and sign more lucrative endorsement deals. Since people close to Dwight are saying that he does not like the Lakers’ situation, Dallas will be a very attactive option becomes Nowitzki and their ability to sign another high priced free agent as well as a deep bench.

Laker’s Case

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant

His current team can offer Howard a max deal approximately five years $118 million. Yet the money might not be everything for Howard, because his main concern may be where he’s the main figure on his team or where he has the best chance to win an NBA title.  The aforementioned reasons about Mike D’Antoni and the roster filled with stars made it difficult for Howard to work and it will stay that way as long as D’Antoni stays in Los Angeles. But, Howard doesn’t want to go to LA after D’Antoni is fired because that will arouse suspicion about the correlation between D’Antoni’s firing and Howard’s signing. He already caused a stir when Howard forced the Orlando Magic organization to fire their head coach, Stan Van Gundy. Wherever Howard lands, one aspect is clear: he wants to be competitive and be in an environment where he can win a championship. Ultimately, I predict that Howard will end up playing in Houston alongside James Harden.

All Pictures and Stats from ESPN.com