This time of year you get two feelings regarding the upcoming football season. One involves wanting to jump out of your skin because you can't wait a second longer. The other has you savoring the silence, basking in the delight of summer, where everyone is tied for first and your hope meter reads full. Never mind the verbose prose of the latter. Let's bring on training camp!
I've seen and described every second of Texans football and there is something very different in the air in 2008: expectation. I'm not talking about the fans. I'm talking about players and coaches who expect to play well. And they aren't taking anything for granted, as if a .500 record last year was an automatic ticket to the playoffs this season. Perhaps that is the psychological difference between this bunch and the 2005 team that was talking playoffs after going 7-9 only to free fall to a 2-14 campaign.
Everywhere I go people ask me how the team is going to be. If I could be assured of very good health, I would almost guarantee (almost) a winning season and probably the playoffs. But if the trainers and doctors get as much action as last year we'll be lucky to see 8-8 again.
This is by far the best team wearing Texans uniforms we've seen. I wrote that last year and I was correct and I'm saying it again this year. The offense is mature and ready for its best ground production ever with Alex Gibbs on staff. Combine that with the passing punch that they found last year and they'll be cooking. Think of the running backs as a pitching staff with Ahman Green, Chris Brown, Chris Taylor, Steve Slaton and Darius Walker. Someone will get cut but they will find a way to put up over 120 yards per game with this crew.
The defense is the wildcard. Mario Williams looked awesome in OTAs and the addition of Rosevelt Colvin, growth of Amobi Okoye and surge of Tim Bulman will create a balanced pass rush. We'll see how third-round draft choice Antwaun Molden fits into the secondary, but he looks like a player so far. This defense gave up too many long conversions last year despite Mario's 14 sacks. But the better overall pass rush with a bump in quality in the defensive backfield could be enough to move the defense into the top half of the league. An offense that will grind more on the ground and turn it over less through the air will only help the defensive product.
Enjoy the summer. Before you know it, footballs will be flying again at Reliant Park and we'll be ready to Rock and Roll.