AFC South - 2_Houston Texans1

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AFC SOUTH HOUSTON 2014 STRENGTHS: • Strong defensive front seven Texans Offense PETER G. AIKEN/GETTY IMAGES SPORT After advancing to the playoffs the previous two years on the strength of their offense, the team faltered when the offense wavered. Gone now is much-maligned quarterback Matt Schaub to the Oakland Raiders, as he is now replaced by former Tennessee Titan Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick will get the first crack at the top-spot on the depth chart, but Case Keenum is waiting in the wings for his turn in the spotlight after a season where he found some success as a starter. In eight games, the former University of Houston standout finished with 1,760 yards in the air, 9 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. But the measure of a quarterback is in his win-loss record and his team didn’t win any of the games he started behind center. No matter who starts at quarterback, the offense will most certainly receive a boost with the return of running back Arian Foster to the lineup after having to miss half of the 2013 season due to a season-ending back injury. In half a season, Foster ran for 542 yards, but only one touchdown while racking up 183 yards through the air on 22 receptions, but again, only one touchdown. As long as Foster can prove that he is still the player he was before his injury, 2014 WEAKNESSES: • Uncertainty at the quarterback position, questionable defensive backfield TEXANS the Texans’ offense should be considerably better in 2014. To help Foster carry the load, the Texans brought in another former Giant, Andre Brown, after the team lost Ben Tate to the Browns in free-agency. Not only should a healthy Foster help the starting quarterback, but he will also ease the burden placed on franchise wide receiver Andre Johnson. Despite asking to be traded, he remains the offense’s most dynamic player. With all the turmoil that the offense went through last season, Johnson put up the kind of numbers Texans’ fans have come accustomed to seeing over the last 11 years. The future Hall of Famer caught 109 balls for a total of 1,407 yards while taking five into the end zone. Offensive Player to Watch There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Foster as he comes back from a back injury that sidelined him for half of the 2013 season. He eventually needed to go for surgery, which raises a huge question mark as to whether Foster can return to the player that scored 17 touchdowns for the Texans’ offense in 2012. Not only will he be coming back from injury, but the team did not retain running mate Ben Tate, so the onus will be entirely on Foster to revert to the form that made him such a dynamic player for this offense. If he doesn’t, the Texans could look eerily similar to the 2013 version. Texans Defense Already blessed with one of the best defensive lineman and pass-rushers in the entire league in J.J. Watt, the Texans added to their strength with the addition of Jadeveon Clowney when they made the former South Carolina Gamecock the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Watt, who has made 31 sacks over the last two seasons, should only get better with this addition as it should somewhat free him from the double-team and allow him to make more plays on the quarterback and in the running game. As long as Clowney shows the freak-like ability that he had in college, the defensive front should be one of the more dominating units throughout the NFL. At 6-6 and 260 pounds, Clowney will be someone opposing Andre Johnson


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