Texans Rewind: I Found a 2008 NFL Preview Magazine, Man Alive Was the Texans Defense Bad
On our radio show on 1560 The Game this past Monday, John Granato and I were breaking down various aspects of both the Texans' 26-13 win over the Panthers and the preseason in general. The topic was the defense, specifically Whitney Mercilus and the various ways that Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips could get the rookie first-rounder on the field with Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin, forming some sort of pass rushing Kobra Kai in big third-down situations.
Not the stuff dreams are made of.
From there, John and I got to talking about the secondary and how Alan Ball was going to have to step it up to make the team. He's part of a cadre of cornerbacks (including Brandon Harris, Roc Carmichael and Sherrick McManis) all of whose best hope to get on the field is as a dime corner in "3rd and long" situations. That's their best-case scenario, because the top three spots are locked up (Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson and Brice McCain).
We talked glowingly about Troy Nolan, Earl Mitchell and Tim Jamison. Backups all of them, and it got me thinking -- holy shit, we are quibbling about fourth cornerbacks, situational pass rushers and backup safeties.
This is AWESOME.
See, it wasn't that long ago that the Texans would go into a new season with about 50 percent turnover in personnel on defense, and it wasn't because starters were leaving for promises of untold riches, à la Mario Williams a few months ago. It's because their names were DeMarcus Faggins or Eugene Wilson or some of the names you're about to read. It's because the Texans were wretched on defense, and with each season came a new set of sticks to scratch together and see if the team could find some semblance of a spark.
Which brings me to this past Sunday and my closet. Yes, that sounds weird; just stay with me.
So this past Sunday, I was cleaning out my closet, because I like to head into the fall neat and organized in all aspects of my life. Well, in the process of divesting myself of outdated shirts and pants that fit a few waist sizes ago, I stumbled across a stack of old Sports Illustrateds (and that's IT for magazines I found, I swear). Among those magazines in the pile was the 2008 NFL season preview issue, which included a two-page overview and prediction for each team.
For the record, SI picked the Texans for last place in the division in 2008 with a 6-10 record. (They finished 8-8, so suck on that, SI!! BURN!!) But that's not what caught my eye. What piqued my interest was the graphic showing the starting lineup, in particular the defense.
Let's go through it guy by guy, how they got here, what they did and how they left:
DE Anthony Weaver
Signed to a fat deal in the opening hours of free agency in 2006 ($10 million-plus signing bonus), Weaver was thought to be the foundation of the Texans' brand-new 4-3 defense after playing for four years in the 3-4 in Baltimore. As it turned out, Weaver might have been a better 3-4 guy after all. He dealt with some injuries while he was here, but was a solid run-stopper and a good leader. He probably didn't live up to the dollars in his contract, but could have been a solid cog on a good defense. Weaver was waived after the 2008 season.
DT Travis Johnson
First-round pick in 2005 who was best known for constantly being injured and for standing over a fallen Dolphin quarterback Trent Green after a legal hit in a 2007 game. He was eventually traded in 2009 for a sixth-round pick, which apparently greatly surprised him at the time.