A young team on the rise, the Houston Texans have a complex, if short history that continues to improve over the years.
Houston Texans: Expansion
To fill the gap left when the Houston Oilers left for Nashville, the NFL awarded the city of Houston with an expansion team in 1999, with the first season scheduled for 2002. Dom Capers was hired as the new Houston Texans head coach along with Charlie Casserly as general manager. Dom Capers successfully built the expansion team Carolina Panthers into a competitive team in a short time frame, deeming Dom Capers as the best fit for the new Houston football franchise.
The first matter of football business was the Expansion Draft, which allowed the Texans to take players from other rosters. However, unlike the Expansion Draft that the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars enjoyed a few years earlier, few quality players were available. The few key players found and taken by the Houston Texans were Tony Boselli, Jamie Sharper, Jermaine Lewis, Gary Walker, Aaron Glenn, and Seth Payne. The Houston Texans held the first overall selection in the 2002 NFL Draft. Defensive end Julius Peppers was considered the best graded player in the draft, but he did not fit the Houston Texans' 3-4 defensive scheme, leading to the selection of QB David Carr.
Houston Texans: 2002-2004
The season opened with promise, as the Houston Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboys on opening day. However, the Houston Texans would go on to lose five straight games before besting the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Houston Texans picked up two more wins that year. David Carr was sacked a record 76 times, which would be a trend for the Houston Texans for years. LT Tony Boselli's career would end due to injury without him seeing a snap. The Houston Texans went into the off season with holes in pass protection and pass rush among others.
Unable to sign any game-changing players in the 2003 off-season, the Houston Texans tried to solve some of their problems through the draft. The only positive about the 4-12 2002-03 season was that the Houston Texans held the 3rd overall pick in the draft. This was used to draft future Pro-Bowl WR Andre Johnson. The fourth round selection was used on RB Dominick Davis, who would be the Houston Texans franchise runner for the next few years.
The Houston Texans opened up the season by defeating the heavily favored Miami Dolphins, a team which the Houston Texans have yet to lose to. The Houston Texans also defeated eventual NFC champ Carolina Panthers. The Houston Texans finished with a 5-11 record, but their tough play against superior teams gave both the fans and the team confidence in the future. The emergence of Andre Johnson and Dominick Davis as a potent offensive force seemed to point to a bright future.
Houston Texans: 2004-2006
In the 2004 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans picked up CB Dunta Robinson in the first round and traded up to the first round again for DE/OLB Jason Babin. Struggling with the salary cap, The Houston Texans were unable to sign any key free agents.
The Houston Texans began the season with a three game losing streak, but righted the ship and won their first back-to-back games in their short history. The most important victories came against rivals Tennessee Titians and Jacksonville Jaguars, with the Texans beating both twice. The Houston Texans were one win away from their first non-losing season, when they faced the Cleveland Browns. The Browns game would mark a turning point, where all of the Houston Texans gains would be erased by an embarrassing loss that seemed to dog the team into the next season.
The Houston Texans entered the off-season with their best record to date and a certified superstar in Pro-Bowl WR Andre Johnson. The 2005 NFL draft would prove to be a disaster however. GM Charlie Casserly traded a flurry of picks to the Oakland Raiders for CB Phillip Buchanan, who eventually earned the named "P-Burnt" by Houston Texans fans because of his poor play. First round pick Travis Johnson was also a poor fit for the 3-4.
The cloud of the Cleveland Browns' game seemed to loom over the Houston Texans in the season. The season started 0-6 before the Houston Texans tallied their next win, which was followed by another six game losing streak. Fans began to hope for the Houston Texans to lose, as it would result in the ability to draft USC running back Reggie Bush. The last game of the season saw the 2-14 Texans facing the equally inept San Francisco 49ers in what was dubbed "The Bush Bowl" with the losing team receiving the first overall selection in the 2006 draft. The Texans lost the game, securing the No. 1 pick.
Houston Texans: Transition Time
After the debacle of the 2005-06 season, head coach Dom Capers was fired, and Gary Kubiak, a former Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator and native Texan replaced him as the head of the Houston Texans. The fans were abuzz about who the Houston Texans should select. The debate was between Reggie Bush and Texas QB Vince Young, a native Houstonian who led the UT Longhords to a National Championship over Bush and the USC Trojans.
In an unpopular move, the Houston Texans selected DE Mario Williams instead of the two favored players. Though a key player to help the Houston Texans' transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, Mario William was written off as an unknown "Combine Warrior." The result was a public relations nightmare with many fans switching loyalty to the New Orleans Saints with Reggie Bush or the Tennessee Titians with Vince Young.
Houston Texans: 2006-2008
Kubiak and the Houston Texans season did not get off to a good start, with three straight blowout losses, before picking up a win against the Miami Dolphins. Vince Young and the Titans defeated the Texans twice. The Houston Texans defeated rival Jacksonville Jaguars twice in convincing fashion and beat Peyton Manning and the future Super Bowl champion Colts for the first time in franchise history. The Houston Texans closed the season out with a win over the Cleveland Browns, finishing at 6-10. The bright spot of the season was MLB DeMeco Ryans, a second round pick who was overshadowed by the Williams/Bush/Young debate. Ryans led the team in tackles and gave a Pro-Bowl caliber performance.
The 2007 off season boasted major moves for the Houston Texans. David Carr and Dominick Davis were both cut. A trade was made for Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Schaub to replace David Carr, and former Pro-Bowl RB Ahman Green was brought in to replace Davis. In an effort to improve the defense and complete the transition to the 4-3, the first draft pick was used on Louisville DT Amobi Okoye.
With a totally remodeled team, the Houston Texans shot to a 2-0 record by easily defeating the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers. Two hard-fought losses followed, with yet another win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 5. The Houston Texans faced strong competition and lost three straight games, with QB Matt Schaub going down with injury. Back up QB Sage Rosenfels played great when needed, with Mario Williams starting to prove the doubters wrong by becoming an explosive force at DE. Schaub returned to the lineup in time to defeat Reggie Bush and the New Orleans Saints in a much hyped game. Schaub would again be injured against the Tennessee Titans, and be out for the year, forcing the Houston Texans to turn to Sage Rosenfels yet again. The Houston Texans would win three of the last four games, including a win over rival Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Houston Texans finished the 2007-08 season with an 8-8 record, the franchise's best. Mario Williams blossomed into a force with 14.4 sacks and DeMeco Ryans would start at MLB in the 2008 Pro Bowl. The Houston Texans also set their franchise touchdown mark with 43
Houston Texans: Future
The Texans enter the off-season with five picks in the NFL Draft. The Houston Texans have needs at RB, LT, DE, CB, and FS. Being the second Houston Texans draft under Gary Kubiak and GM Richard Smith, more shrewd draft moves are to be expected. The secondary looks to be in a total rebuilding phase and the offensive line is in a state of flux as center Chris Meyers has been brought in from Denver.
With a young and talented front seven on defense and a pair of QBs leading the offense with WR Andre Johnson, the Houston Texans are on the verge of finally coming to prominence in the AFC South, the toughest division in football. The arrival of offensive line genius Joe Gibbs should give the Texans a potent running attack. Tickets to the Houston Texans always go fast, and with the Texans looking to have their best team in Houston Texans' history tickets will be hotter than ever before.