One of the troubling things about the Texans’ offseason is that no matter how you look at it, they are not as good right now on paper as they were in 2011. Or are they?
Yes. No. I don’t know. Blogging is hard.
Let’s take a look at each position group and see how each compares now to how things ended up in 2011, starting with the offensive line and running backs (yay series of posts upcoming yay.) Yay?
2011 starters: Duane Brown, Wade Smith, Chris Myers, Mike Brisiel, Eric Winston
2011 relevant depth: Rashad Butler, Antoine Caldwell, Derek Newton
2012 starters: Duane Brown, Wade Smith, Chris Myers, Antoine Caldwell/Brandon Brooks, Rashad Butler/Derek Newton
2012 likely depth: Caldwell/Brooks, Butler/Newton, Ben Jones
Clearly this is the group that has taken the biggest hit from last year. Gone are starters Mike Brisiel and Eric Winston, replaced, presumably by Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Butler. Gary Kubiak has said that Derek Newton is already pushing Butler for the starting RT job, and rookie Brandon Brooks is in the mix for Caldwell’s RG job. Let’s also not forget that the Texans took center Ben Jones in the fourth round.
Regarding Kubiak’s Butler comments – how can Newton already be pushing Butler based on guys walking around in shorts and helmets? How bad does Rashad Butler look – or how great does Newton look to illicit that comment? Oh, it’s just OTA-speak? It’s just OTA speak. More specifically, Kubiakspeak™.
The offensive line is going to start the year behind where last year’s group left off, but the new influx of talent has set the Texans up nicely going forward.
Verdict: 2011 group clearly better.
2011 starter: Lawrence Vickers, James Casey
2011 relevant depth: Casey
2012 starter: Casey? Jason Ford? A guy not yet on the roster?
2012 likely depth: Um… Casey? Jason Ford? A guy not yet on the roster?
I didn’t think this position would hold up as well as it did post-Vonta Leach, but when Vickers got his shot after Casey got hurt, the running game was every bit as good as it was with Vonta. The question is – what does Gary Kubiak want to do with this position? When Casey was in at FB, he was a dangerous weapon for Kubiak to scheme with. When Vickers took over, Kubiak admitted (and this went largely undiscussed) that the Texans “went in a different direction” on offense once Casey was back and able to resume his FB duties. My theory – and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here – is that Kubiak realized Vickers’ run-blocking was more of an asset to the team than Casey’s run-blocking plus the advantages gained with being able to “scheme Casey up.”
Anyway, I don’t know much about Ford, but I won’t be surprised if he or a guy currently not on the team is the starter in 2012, just as happened when the Texans scooped Vickers up when he was cut by Cleveland.
Okay, who am I kidding – I doubt very seriously another Vickers will be out there… so it will probably be Casey or Ford. Hopefully whatever happens with Casey, Kubiak will see fit to use him the way he did against New Orleans last year. That was a lot of fun to watch.
Verdict: Vickers makes the 2011 group the better unit.