Everywhere I go people want my prediction on how the season will be. I never go on-record until the team breaks camp. I need to see the final stages of the sausage being made. Even after that, I don't exactly run to Vegas to make it official. Too many variables.
Gary Kubiak once said that you don't really know what kind of team you have until you break camp. The top five seasons in Texans history are 2011, 2012, 2016, 2018 and 2019. Here are some camp characteristics all those campaigns shared.
In each of those years, there was no QB competition. Everyone knew who the guy was, he got all the big reps. All but one of these campaigns (2016) saw double digit wins. I know you're thinking that Brock Osweiler didn't pan out as planned. But camp went well otherwise, with the Texans building the eighth best rushing attack and number one defense in the NFL.
Davis Mills is still developing and has the full support and attention of his teammates. The transition to Pep Hamilton's offense, improvements on the offensive line, coached now by George Warhop, the running back crew, the pass catchers – there's enough there to help him keep improving and build on the win total.
This one is obvious. It's like analyzing a game and saying you need to outscore the opponent. I do remember that in Brian Cushing's first camp he was sidelined with an injury. He eventually was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. You never know. But it's safe to say the coaches and entire football operations staff need to do their best to balance physical intensity with health preservation.
The days of Bill Parcells' two-a-days are long gone. Now, camp is smoother than ever. But we live in Houston, where you can cook bacon on a car top (mmm, bacon).
Lovie Smith has scheduled practice at 8am. The earliest start times to Texans training camp practice were scheduled by the only two coaches who hailed from Texas, Smith and Kubiak. Also, the technology to monitor players has never been better. The Texans have all the latest stuff. They tried to explain to me how it all works but I stopped taking science classes as soon as I could replace them with marketing and communications.
If you don't have a veteran team, like Houston did in 2012, it's a must to have added veteran and rookie talent that will make a difference. In 2011, J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed paid dividends as rookies. Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning were huge additions to the secondary. Everyone upped their game as a result.
This season's rookie class has a chance to make a significant contribution. And don't sleep on the veteran player acquisitions. They might not have led SportsCenter but they can certainly make an impact.
Established Coaching Staff
All the best Texans seasons had a staff in place. In '11, the addition of Wade Phillips coaching the defense was gigantic. Although the Texans have a new head coach, he's been here a year, has coached before (a lot!) and remains the play caller on a defense that was highly productive in the takeaway department. Hamilton is the new offensive coordinator but has also been here and has plenty of experience, including coordinating the Colts to the number three offense in the league and an AFC Championship Game appearance. This is no 'new' staff.
This team already has a good vibe to it, led by Smith, who makes everyone feel like the whole operation is in capable, productive hands. Obviously, the games are what matters but, for now, we're talking about having a good camp. And it appears that everything is in place to get that done.
Texans Training Camp presented by Xfinity begins Friday, July 29 at the Houston Methodist Training Center.