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Ticktock, Texans on the clock: It's playoff time

Discussion in 'Houston Texans' started by JamesC, Jun 1, 2005.

  1. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Jun 18, 2002
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    Ticktock, Texans on the clock: It's playoff time

    Clark Judge Jun. 1, 2005
    By Clark Judge
    CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
    Tell Clark your opinion!

    Houston general manager Charley Casserly doesn't make predictions, so don't ask him what to expect from this year's Texans. Ask someone with the Cleveland Browns. Or the Carolina Panthers. Or any of the NFL's expansion clubs the past three decades.

    The Texans should have a winning season in their fourth year. And they should make the playoffs.

    Casserly won't say that, but he doesn't have to. We were there for the history lesson when Cleveland graduated to the winner's circle in 2002. Not only did the Browns have their first -- and only -- winning season since returning to the NFL in 1999, they reached the playoffs, too.

    Unusual? Not really. Carolina and Jacksonville reached the playoffs in their second seasons, with the Panthers advancing to the NFC Championship Game. Seattle and Tampa Bay, expansion teams in 1976, were winners by their fourth seasons, too, with the Bucs making it to the 1979 NFC Championship Game.

    Of the NFL's previous five expansion teams, only Seattle failed to reach the playoffs by its fourth year.

    Which brings us back to Houston, the club that finished with the same 7-9 record last year that Cleveland authored in its third season. The Texans might have made it the playoffs a year ago were it not for a 1-5 stretch where they were outscored 169-92 and produced no more than 14 points in five of their six starts.

    Quarterback David Carr was better, throwing for 16 touchdowns, but he still took too many sacks (49). Running back Domanick Davis had his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and scored 14 times. And wide receiver Andre Johnson provided glimpses of greatness while leading the club in catches (79) and yards receiving (1,142).

    But their presence is not what should make the difference.

    It's a defense that Casserly thinks is better -- and much better -- than the unit that last year finished 23rd overall and dead last in sacks. He cites the additions of cornerback Phillip Buchanon and linebacker Morlon Greenwood; the draft of defensive tackle Travis Johnson; the move of linebacker Kailee Wong inside; and the talent and depth at cornerback.

    "Every year we've gotten better," Casserly said, "and this is our best team so far. I never put predictions on a team. That's not fair to the players. You just have to go play, and see where you are.

    "We're a better club, but we just need to take another step and find a way to win more of those close games we haven't won the last couple of years. What's important is to keep improving, and we have. Eventually, the wins come."

    The question is: Can "eventually" cut it in Houston, where the Texans are on the clock? Owner Bob McNair is patient, but he knows the history of the NFL -- and it tells him the Texans should be good enough to make a run at the playoffs now.

    McNair understands, but don't expect him to lean on the panic button. That's not his nature. He believes his club is better than it was a year ago; he just wants to see how much better.

    "I think the results will speak for themselves," McNair said. "Will I be disappointed if we don't make the playoffs? Yes I will be disappointed. But there's no sense of urgency because there are factors that can enter into it that could be the reason for not having a better year. There are always some things you can't control.

    "I said all along it will take us four or five years before we would be the kind of club that could go out on the field and compete with anyone and feel like we had just as good a chance of winning the game. And I still feel that way. I have very high standards, but as long as I'm making satisfactory progress I know the results will catch up."

    Logic says it happens now. The Texans improved by one win in 2003. They improved by two last season. Two or more victories this year puts them in the black and in the middle of the playoff picture.

    Sure, there are always concerns, and with Houston it's not with Carr; it's with his offensive line. Carr, Casserly said, "will continue to improve as we improve around him." He didn't elaborate, but the implication is that the Texans need to improve immediately around him, with the club still searching for a left tackle.

    Maybe it finds him, maybe it doesn't. What I know is that this is the year Houston should find itself -- not because Casserly or McNair tell us, but because history does.

  2. kaleidosky

    kaleidosky Your Tweety Bird dance just cost us a run
    Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2002
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    I hope (and believe that) the Texans will make the playoffs this year. But this article conveniently skips out on mentioning the losses this offseason. Glenn and Sharper, for a huge couple.
  3. leroy

    leroy Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2002
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    It didn't mention Glenn and Sharper by name, but it did in sayingthe defense is going to be better with the additions of Greenwood and Buchanon, their replacements. The defense got a little younger and faster. The only thing I'm not sold on is Wong at ILB. I think the pass rush can only get better and it should with Peek starting and Babin in his 2nd year.

    Once again, I just want to see improvement into a team that can contend. I think 9-7 or 10-6 is very possible with the schedule and that should be enough. A win over Indy would be nice, too.
  4. swilkins

    swilkins Contributing Member

    Mar 5, 2003
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    For the 4th year in a row, it falls on the OL. No real significant changes have been made and so we'll have to wait and see if putting last year behing them will help them this year.

    I'm pumped about the defense though.:)
  5. rezdawg

    rezdawg Contributing Member

    Feb 15, 2000
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  6. apostolic3

    apostolic3 Member

    Mar 17, 2003
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    I'm not a big Capers fan. Casserly is the man. We should have won more games last year. The play calling must improve and they've got to figure a way to throw the ball downfield more. I'm tired of the excuses because other teams with a standout wide receiver face the same defenses.

    The pressure to win is on. It's not good enough to "get better." Barring catastrophic injuries, if they don't finish at least 9-7, Capers' job should be on the line.
  7. KaiSeR SoZe

    KaiSeR SoZe Contributing Member

    Mar 23, 2003
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    at least 9-7
  8. superden

    superden Contributing Member

    Jun 5, 2003
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    that OL def worries me. they did have a pretty good season our 2nd year, but did horrible last season. i hope we will get some better players on that line or pray that line has matured...

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