Let's put this year, so far, in perspective by comparing it to other Texans offseasons.
We're not going to focus on how things turned out in the past. Rather, we'll key in on the energy, hope and impact of the moment as it all unfolded.
The way offseason moves feel at the time versus how they ultimately play out can be two different things. Sometimes they match up very well, like 2011, and create the kind of leap in success we ultimately expect this one to spark.
Following the explosive joy of this draft, the veteran acquisitions, and the hiring of DeMeco Ryans, which kicked off the off-season's sizzling start, it's time to categorize this off season among the best.
Here are the challengers:
There was a ton of excitement about the inaugural campaign, but no one thought the team was going to win for awhile. There were 13 draft picks and everyone was a rock star on the first NFL squad the city had seen after five seasons with no pro football. We also had the expansion draft and a truckload of free agents. It was the Big Bang Theory of football. It stands apart in a category of its own.
The greatest draft in team history. It started with the crowd strongly objecting to the selection of Mario Williams at number one (which turned out to be the right choice, but we'd wait years to find out). The first three rounds were on Saturday back then and the day ended with DeMeco Ryans, Eric Winston and Charles Spencer all being picked. There was electricity in the air.
That draft, combined with Gary Kubiak's hiring, brought a lot of juice to the franchise and the city. But 2023 feels better. Picking a highly regarded QB certainly factors into that.
I'll get eye-rolled for this but with the acquisition of Matt Schaub and Ahman Green, everyone was fired up. Schaub was tremendous for the organization. Yet that offseason's buzz doesn't match this.
Another one you'll question me on, but trust me, people were amped about getting Brock Osweiler. He was the number one free agent quarterback. Plus, the Texans added running back Lamar Miller. Will Fuller was drafted. That doesn't come close to this though, despite the boost of stabilizing the quarterback and running back positions on an already winning team.
The team moved up to take Deshaun Watson. We all know what happened but we all remember that the in-the-moment excitement was palpable. However, there's no way it beats this. We're all older and wiser now. We've been through tough years. We know that having people and professionals the caliber of Ryans and Nick Caserio, and making moves the way they have creates an atmosphere and culture of achievement, relentless drive and results.
You were wondering if I was going to bring it up. That offseason comes the closest to this. Wade Phillips was hired as Defensive Coordinator. It felt so right. The ability, the resume, the DNA.
The drafting of J.J. Watt didn't get the reviews it eventually deserved, so we'll put that to the side. But the signing of Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning right before camp (because of the lockout) capped a high-expectation offseason that served notice the Texans were good-to-go to make a playoff push. Yet this beats that.
This is a tricky one because after making the playoffs for the first time, the thought was that a healthy Schaub could lead the Texans to a possible championship. The expectations were sky-high and coming from a place of success. You could say something similar about '16 and '19. But from where the team was vs. the impact of offseason moves, they don't seem to match up with the feeling of this year.
There's never been an offseason like this. The extreme thrill of what happened Thursday night, coupled with Ryans coming home earlier, makes this the biggest ever. You got the top coach on the market and top quarterback and defensive prosects in a history-making first round two-fer that we'll be talking about for decades.
And the veteran pick-ups during free agency dramatically upgraded every position group. Look at your mental depth chart. This is a very different and much better team than the one you've seen in recent years.
We don't know how it will all end up. There are a lot of young players. But the franchise and city are aligned and inspired to move forward into the campaign with a charge that we have not seen in a long time.