8-8 brings hope for future

The 2007 ride is over. The Texans went 8-8 and showed positive signs for the future. When they were 3-5 at the halfway point, I have to admit I thought 8-8 was not going to happen. You looked at the schedule and figured there were not enough wins on it to go 5-3 down the stretch.

But they won three of their last four and have become a very tough team to beat at Reliant Stadium, going 6-2 in Houston. Don't talk to me about Jacksonville playing a lot of reserves in the finale. The Texans have been playing more reserves than that for much of the season.

Like I've written here before, the defense may be ranked poorly at 24th overall, but I would love to see what the numbers would look like if the team didn't turn the ball over so much. Still, the last couple of games have made it clear that Houston needs to beef up on D as much as anywhere. They still haven't generated enough of a consistent pass rush and get gashed by the run too much. But with young talent like Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye, DeMeco Ryans, Fred Bennett and others, this is a unit that will continue to get better with experience.

Offensively, Ahman Green was very good when healthy, but should not be counted on to play an entire year anymore. The same thing could probably be said for Ron Dayne, who had his best season ever. Darius Walker and a healthy Chris Taylor will be nice to bring to camp, but there must be another back to possibly emerge as a go-to guy. A long-term solution at left tackle remains a mystery with Charles Spencer's uncertain future and Ephraim Salaam's age.

You should feel good about your team finishing .500 under the circumstances. At the same time, the weight of the AFC South is on them as they fight to escape the cellar next year. Indy, Jacksonville and Tennessee will all feel like they won't be worse next year. The Texans will have to find a way to execute against their divisional foes to have a breakout year in '08.

All three AFC South enemies are in the playoffs. Jacksonville beats people up. The Colts are better than ever on defense and have a surgeon at QB. And Tennessee has a great defense and runs the ball. They went 10-6 squeaking by the Jets and a Jim Sorgi-led Colts team the last two weeks of the season.

The offseason is underway. Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak have a ton of work to do. Last year, I got a lot of calls on what the Texans would do at QB. The deal for Matt Schaub blew people away. Stay tuned because one thing the current administration has shown is that they won't rest until this team wins a championship. That's the goal and they don't shy away from it.

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