2006 season recap
Texas side stepping
With a new coach and a slew of talented young players, the Texans were hoping to take a big step forward in 2006. And while their six wins tripled their total from 2005, in the end the season could not help but feel like a disappointment. Rookie defensive end Mario Williams, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, struggled to adjust to the NFL game, and quarterback David Carr continued to struggle with his decision-making, ultimately prompting the team to decide to go in another direction at quarterback.
Key camp questions
Will newly acquired Matt Schaub finally give the Texans a consistent quarterback?
Schaub was good in the three games he started for Atlanta, but he's stepping into an entirely new role as a starter in Houston. Schaub is a good and quick decision maker, but the Texans did little to improve their offensive line in the offseason. Poor protection proved to be Carr's downfall, and Schaub could find himself in a similar situation.
Can Ahman Green take enough pressure off Schaub?
Green rushed for 1,059 yards and five touchdowns last season with Green Bay. Ron Dayne and Wali Lundy had 1,088 yards combined. If Green can force opponents to honor the run, it could open things up dramatically for Schaub in the passing game.
Will the improving defense be able to keep the team in games?
The Texans' defense was ranked 24th overall last season and was tied for 25th in points allowed, but with some rising stars in the front seven in Williams, linebacker DeMeco Ryans and rookie defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, they could surprise some teams this year. The real question is whether their secondary can keep up.
Key position battle
Andre Johnson is unquestionably the main man in Houston, but he lacks a co-star to take away some of the defensive attention. As explosive as he is, Johnson had just five touchdowns last season, and between the other six receivers on the roster there isn't much of a supporting cast. Still, someone has to emerge to help out Schaub, Johnson & Co. Third round draft choice Jacoby Jones has speed but also has a lot to learn.
The 20-year old defensive tackle, selected in the first-round out of Louisville, should be able to start right away. That is asking a lot of a player so young, but the Texans' front seven needs to take some of the pressure off a leaky secondary.
Player on the spot
Both Reggie Bush and Vince Young had productive rookie seasons in 2006, while Williams, selected ahead of both them in the 2006 draft, did not. With just 4.5 sacks as a rookie, Williams will have to take a big step forward to validate his draft status and alleviate some of the pressure that came with that status. The addition of Okoye and the progress of Ryans should free up Williams to have more success.
A former fantasy football stud whose value has fallen in recent seasons, Green signed with Houston in the offseason and will be the team's new featured back. While injuries and age (30) are cause for some concern, Green still has the tools to be a valuable No. 2 fantasy runner.