paul - lake jackson, TX, US: We have talked alot about getting help on defense but what about the offensive line and helping protect matt a little better?
Fans, thanks again for all the questions! We had a huge turnout. If I didn't get to you today, I apologize. You are at the top of my list next time. Have a great week!
The offensive line is a unit that quietly improved throughout the season. Their run blocking in the zone blocking scheme was exceptional. They got to the second level and helped clear the way for Steve Slaton, especially on the right side. The O-line also improved in pass protection. Rookie left tackle Duane Brown got a lot better, and it showed with Matt Schaub having more time in the pocket to throw down field. Coach Gary Kubiak said he thinks the O-line can be the strength of the team next season. So expect the same starters there again (those guys also started all 16 games together without an injury).
KU Jayhawk Lee - The Woodlands, TX, US: Hi Brooke, Ideas on what we'll do in the draft next year as far as our position goes in round 1? I wanted to suggest REY MAUALUGA out of USC. I've seen him play whenever USC is on and he's like a LB version of Troy Palamalu or better. He's a linbacker that could definitely bring instant impact to our LB core. What do you think and make sure the coaches get word of this. He's not been in the spotlight because there's so many good players to be in this next draft. We can get him under the radar maybe :-)
Well, you are talking to the right person about Rey Maualuga. I went to USC and covered the team with him there. He can lay people out and has great closing speed (check out this video). Any team would love to have Rey and he is on most scouts' radars, but the Texans are looking at all their needs on defense right now...and linebacker isn't necessarily their biggest need.
James - Victoria, TX, US: Huge fan of both you and the Texans by the way.........In your opinion, has the fan base for the Houston Texans grown in the past couple of years? I've been a loyal fan since the beginning and I have thought that the recent wins have definately brought some of the fans of this team out into the spotlight, and we have now become almost a 12th man at home games. Do you agree?
Thanks for being such an awesome fan! The Texans keep selling out their games, and the players notice that. They love when the fans are in their seats early and loud on defense. Players like DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams said the fan noise made a huge difference in their Monday Night Football win over the Jags and the upset over the Titans.
TexansNutt - Rochester, NY, US: Do you know by any chance there any talk of moving Ray Rhodes to DQ?
While Ray Rhodes is more than qualified to be defensive coordinator (he was a former NFL Coach of the Year), for health reasons he likes to take a smaller role. He will remain on the coaching staff, but he probably will work just with the defensive backs.
Rene R - Houston, TX, US: Hello, With the coaching changes that were made today, are there going to be any further changes and if so when? Also, when will there be player changes and/or evaluations. Thanks for a great season and i look forward to next season. Rene'
Coach Gary Kubiak started his player and coaching evaluations on Monday and he has talked to most of the players. There probably won't be any more big coaching changes, unless a coach decides to leave the team for another position. The Texans would like to re-sign assistant head coach Alex Gibbs, so they will work on that. The coaches now will go through player cut-ups to review their play calling and then front office will begin to focus on free agency and draft prospects.
paul - lake jackson, TX, US: hello brooke. i know we had some turnover trouble at QB position and matt come back after injury and did a great job, but is there a chance they might stil look for a QB, like if matt cassel from patriots. he is free this year and if he does not get signed again would we look into something like that?
Yes, quarterback Matt Schaub did miss five games because of health reasons (torn MCL) this season, but the Texans liked what they saw from him when he was on the field. Schaub helped the Texans' offense become the third-best in the NFL. When he got good protection from the offensive line, he had great field vision and was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. Plus, after his return from a knee injury, he did not commit more than one turnover in a game. I don't see the Texans going after a big-name quarterback in free agency. However, they probably will want to add depth either through free agency or the draft.
matt - Converse, TX, US: I know this has been a year of what ifs. What if we didnt blow a 17 point lead against the colts. What if we stopped Garrard on 4th and 9 against the jags. Well how bout some What Shoulds! meaning What should the Texans do in the draft in April. What position players should we focus on?
Yep, we are headed toward draft talk! Most of the focus will be on defense where there are obvious holes: defensive tackle, pass rush opposite Mario Williams and safety. Also, if Dunta Robinson doesn't re-sign with Houston, cornerback will be a concern. This offseason will be about getting nasty on defense. We need an intimidating group that's going to inflict pain. I know that's the type of defense that linebacker DeMeco Ryans envisions, and he's the leader of the unit.
mike - beaumont, TX, US: Hi Brooke, I hate to see anyone lose there job, but I think this is a smart move. One thing that i notice about the defense seems to be a lack of killer instinct or fire. Not that they don't try I'm talking about a hit you in the mouth type thing. Do the Texans have someone like that in mind or is it to early to say?
Last year, the Texans wanted to get faster on defense so they went after guys like Jacques Reeves, Antwaun Molden and Xavier Adibi. This year, they probably want to get nastier. I think they need a physical safety and a defensive tackle who can clog the middle. It's too early to throw out names, but I like where your head is! The best defenses are the nasty ones.
Ron - Hot Springs, AR, US: I think the Texans should look to free agency for defensive help on the line but the draft for help in the secondary. A good compliment for Mario would upgrade the run defense and a big safety from the college rands that possesses speed and a let-it-all-hang-out approach to intimidate. What do you think?
The Texans definitely want a pass rusher opposite Mario Williams and they probably will look for a run-stuffing defensive tackle, who can occupy two offensive linemen and allow Williams or Amobi Okoye to get to the quarterback. It all depends on who is out there and at what price. They also could use a physical safety, but that will be another market decision. They are scouting all their needs for the draft to make sure they get the best guys available. It should be an exciting offseason. Keep checking back to HoustonTexans.com every day for the latest news and coverage on all of the offseason happenings.
Ryan - Houston, TX, US: Brooke, What happened to the 1:30 press conference?
Coach Gary Kubiak announced that the Texans fired defensive coordinator Richard Smith, defensive backs coach Jon Hoke and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin. Kubiak will begin looking for a new defensive coordinator but he will take his time. Even though the Texans play a 4-3 defense, he didn't rule out a 3-4 coach. He also said the next coordinator doesn't have to have experience calling defenses.
If you didn't get to see it, we'll put up an archive of the press conference on Texans TV shortly. In the future, make sure to log on to Texans TV at least 10 minutes prior to the start of each press conference. We start the live stream before the press conference begins, and sometimes the press conferences don't last long. So that's the best way to ensure that you don't miss anything.
Matt Skains - Dallas - still, TX, US: It is very early, but what do you think the team will be targeting come April's draft? I feel safety is a big need for us but we have never drafted one early.
I can't say who the Texans will target in the first round. But I do know they need a big, physical safety. Pretty much any team would love to have a player like USC's Taylor Mays, who is a junior and hasn't declared yet for the NFL draft. Check out this article on him.
It's way too early to start throwing names out, but Mays is the type of guy that is fast and hits hard. The Texans also need a run-stuffing defensive tackle and a pass rusher opposite of Mario Williams.
Kevin - Bronson, TX, US: Hi Brooke, I would like to start by saying i am a huge texans fan and enjoy this website and the work that you do here.... I usually start out my mornings here to get the latest news. Thanks. My question is what was the deciding factor in letting these coaches go? I am hoping that there was the same feeling that i got which was the play calling was just not aggressive enough. If you look at some of the really successful defenses in the league one thing they all have in common is not being scared of bring the blitz and doing it well. I believe this is what we need to have a tougher mor stingy defense. Do you agree?
Thanks for starting your day with HoustonTexans.com! The firings of defensive coordinator Richard Smith, defensive backs coach John Hoke and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin was something that coach Gary Kubiak had been thinking about for a while. While the play-calling improved as the season went on, it wasn't where Kubiak wanted it to be. The Texans did start blizting more and had success when they put pressure on the quarterback, but many people thought that the defense wasn't aggressive enough (like you said). Of course, the Texans do need more talent on that side of the ball. But Kubiak wants to bring in new coaching blood to lead that talent.
Chris Frizzell - Tomball, TX, US: Brooke Have you heard anything about Mike Nolan being the possible replacement for DC? Chris
Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan is one name I haven't heard mentioned, but he's an outstanding candidate. I know that coach Gary Kubiak will take his time making a decision. But Nolan also is known as more of a 3-4 defensive coach, I believe. So I'm not sure it would be a great fit. We'll see if Nolan is mentioned as a possibility as the list of potential defensive coordinators becomes available.
Patrick Krause - Houston, TX, US: Hey FB friend! I tagged you in a note on my season review of the Texans and I hope you get a chance to skim through it. Brooke, have you gotten a chance to talk to any of the players about the recent termination of Richard Smith, Jethro Franklin, and Jon Hoke? If so, what were their thoughts?
I'm looking forward to diving into your season review! To be honest, I think a lot of the players thought defensive coordinator Richard Smith would be leaving. There had been some discontent with the defensive play-calling. A lot of players said they wanted to blitz more. Coach Gary Kubiak is going to look for a coach who runs a 4-3, so the team won't have to change schemes. That definitely will make some players happy. The defensive linemen like Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye have said they gained a lot from defensive line coach Jethro Franklin's tough-love approach. But they also understand the nature of the business.
stacey - Baytown, TX, US: I thought Owen Daniels had a charity Small , medium , Large, is this not true?
Tight end Owen Daniels is part of a charity group in the Texans' TACT program that is called Small, Medium and Large. The name is pretty fitting considering the members: wide receiver David Anderson (small), Daniels (medium) and right tackle Eric Winston (large). They focused their efforts on supporting the children at Shriners Hospital. Check out this video of them.
Jim - Houston, TX, US: Why do you think Jon Hoke was leg go? He has practally nothing to work with since he has been here
The Texans' secondary was thin this season, even coach Gary Kubiak has said so much. With cornerback Dunta Robinson out for half of the season and then starting safety C.C. Brown going on IR, defensive back coach Jon Hoke didn't have his full arsenal to work with. Still, the secondary got beat too much, and Kubiak would have liked to have seen more production out of second-year corner Fred Bennett, who led the team in interceptions in 2007. Assistant defensive backs coach (and former NFL Coach of the Year) Ray Rhodes will stay with the team and could take a more active role - and that excited Kubiak.
Haamadi Abdi - Houston, TX, US: So Do The Texans Get To Go The Playoffs?
The Texans did not make the playoffs this year. Ironically, a team that they beat, Miami, will play a wild card game against the Ravens. The Chargers finished 8-8, like the Texans, and will play the other AFC wild card game against the Colts.
RayR - Lufkin, TX, US: Will the Texans interview candidates outside the organization for a DC replacement?
The Texans definitely will interview candidates for defensive coordinator outside of the organization from other NFL teams and perhaps college teams. Senior defensive assistant Frank Bush has applied for the job, but coach Gary Kubiak said he wants to take his time making a decision. He also said that he will focus on coaches who run a 4-3.
greg - houston, TX, US: will the texans ever were the old houston oilers uniforms? it would be really cool if they did.
The Texans will not get to wear the old Oilers uniforms. Those went with the Titans to Tennessee.
Michael - Friendswood, TX, US: I know the texans missed the speed of Zac Diles and his playmaking, so what is the status of Diles? Is he expected to be back for training camp?
The Texans definitely missed Zac Diles. He was leading the team in tackles and had a sack and an interception before he broke his leg. But Kevin Bentley did a great job of stepping up on the strong side. Diles is rehabbing right now and will compete for the starting spot in the offseason.
Look for the linebackers to be a major strength for the Texans in '09 with Bentley and Diles competing at strong side, DeMeco Ryans healthy in the middle and Xavier Adibi (perhaps the most athletic player of the unit) roaming the weakside with Morlon Greenwood as a key reserve. Those are just the returning players. Imagine that group with a solid rookie and/or free agent also in the mix...
NoManches - Carrollton, TX, US: Brooke, now that we finally released the defensive Coaching staff... who are some of the potential candidates out there for us. Please tell me we are not going to try that 3-4 experiment and pick up a Mangini or Crennel . I'd like to take our chances with a Marinelli who was a Dungy pupil under his Tampa 2 defense. or even Mike Zimmer or bring back Greg Williams to Houston..... What do you think ?
Coach Gary Kubiak talked about this today. It seems like he is going to take his time interviewing candidates for defensive coordinator. He will look at coaches who run a 4-3, since the Texans have been using that scheme for the last three years and Mario Williams has flourished in it. Kubiak has a ton of respect for the Tony Dungy coaching tree. He talked about that before Chicago came to town (Lovie Smith runs a Tampa 2). He just doesn't want to rush into a decisions.
Senior assistant Frank Bush already has applied for the DC job and he will be interviewed shortly. I think there will be some more coaching changes made around the NFL in the next few days, so don't be surprised if the Texans interview some coaches that are let go by other teams.
Matt Skains - Dallas - sadly, TX, US: What kind of activity is surrounding Robinson and his pending free agency status? Are the Texans going to go after him?
Don't feel bad about living in Dallas - we've got many fans there! Anyways, cornerback Dunta Robinson is in a contract year. He has made it clear that he wants to return to Houston, and coach Gary Kubiak said on Monday that he wants Robinson back. It will all come down to money. Robinson, a first-round pick in 2004, wants to be paid the salary of a big-time cornerback. The Texans went 5-1 with him in the lineup as a starter at right corner. The Texans can use the franchise tag on him in case a long-term agreement isn't reached. But I think both sides prefer a long-term deal.
Tomeka - Ahoskie, NC, US: Hi Ms.Bentley. The Texans ended the season on a good note with a WIN. What was your take on the season and how will the Texans move forward with improvements? Thanks
Hi Texans fans! Thanks for spending some time with me during the weekly Live Chat on HoustonTexans.com. We've got a lot to cover today with the Texans closing the books on 2008 and already making some offseason moves. So let's get going!
The Texans finished the season at 8-8 for the second consecutive year, but this team is much better than last year's. The Texans got quality wins down the stretch over the Packers, Titans and Bears. Quarterback Matt Schaub finished the season healthy and helped the offense put up some tremendous numbers. The Texans finished third in the league in offense (382.1 ypg) and fourth in passing (266.7). Wide receiver Andre Johnson led the league with 115 receptions and 1,575 yards. Steve Slaton locked up the rookie rushing title with 1,282 yards. The biggest holes on the team are on defense. The Texans could look for a pass rusher opposite Mario Williams and for a physical safety.