Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Houston Texans All Career-Year Team

By John Turney
We at Pro Football Journal are trying to pick the best individual seasons in the history of each franchise, which we will continue today with the Houston Texans. By "Career-year" we mean the best performances at each position, with the following rule: Only one season per player per position. For example, here, we cannot pick J.J. Watt's best two seasons and use all the defensive end slots.

First-team on the left, Second-team on the right: 
You'll see Marcus Coleman as a Second-team selection at two spots, first, since they are different enough we do that. Also, there were not any other good free safety choices. Aaron Glenn was a big-name free agent signing by the Texans and he had an All-Pro year in 2002. Dunta Robinson had a fine rookie season in 2004 and gets a Second-team nod. Johnathan Joseph was a Pro Bowler and Second-team All-Pro in 2011. 
Since the Texans played both a 3-4 and 4-3 in their brief history, we went with both an ILB and an MLB. Ryans was an All-Pro and Sharper played like one. Sharper, in 2002, had 5.5 sacks and 10 run/pass stuffs and 9 passes defensed.

Brian Cushing has played both inside and outside, but his 2009 rookie season was excellent. He had 8.5 run/pass stuffs, a career-high 4 sacks and career-high 4 interceptions a career-high 133 tackles, and also had career-highs in passes defended and forced fumbles. 

At first glance, it was a very close call between Whitney Mercilus's 2015 season and Connor Barwin's 2011 season. However, Mercilus had more sacks and more stuffs as Barwin had only one stuff on the season to go with his 11.5 sacks, thus he gets a Second-team slot with Jason Babin. Babin also gets a First-team designated rusher slot due to his role in 2006. Babin, early in his career, was compared to Kevin Greene in size, speed, and style by one pro scouting firm, but he never reached that level of play but has been an effective rusher around the league for a long time.

Again, special teams are based on honors and then statistics. For returners, touchdowns are the key stat plus honors. Mathis and Jones were both excellent in their respective seasons, gaining league-wide honors and taking kicks and punts to the house.

The nose tackles are decent, but not special, Okoye had a couple of nice seasons as a 3-technique when the Texans were in the base 4-3 defense. The Second-team defensive ends are solid, both were Pro Bowl selections and complimentary players.

Mario Williams was a First-team All-Pro by Sporting News in 2007 and 2008, we went with 2008 though he had 2 fewer sacks he had more stuffs and a career-high 4 forced fumbles. 

J.J. Watt presented problems with three Defensive Player of the Year awards. Which was the best?
2015, while excellent, was eliminated and that left 2012 and 2014. In 2012 he had 23.5 run/pass stuffs in addition to his 20.5 sacks for an astounding 43 plays behind the line of scrimmage and 16 passes deflected. In 2014 he had 13.5 run/pass stuffs and 20.5 sacks, but he also recovered five fumbles, had a pick-six and a scoop and score and played offense and played it well. We went with 2012, but there is room for debate.
The offensive line was based on post-season honors and how well the team did offensively, the pickings got kind of slim for the Second-team, but looking at grades and other factors from the literature of the day, we made the picks you see.

Running backs and quarterbacks were based on statistics as well as Pro Bowls/All-Pros, those usual things. The 2010 backfield was well represented and the choices were very clear. Owen Daniels got the tight end slot for 2008, but other years could have been chosen for him, too. 

Hopkins got one slot at wide receiver and along with Johnson and like Williams and Watt had more than one season to look at, but by a narrow marginwe went with 2009 when he was a consensus All-Pro and the NFL Alumni Wide Receiver of the Year, led the NFL in receiving yards. One deciding factor was the 15.5 yards per catch in 2009 versus the 13.7 average he posted in 2008
Andre Johnson
Agree or disagree? Post in the comments section below.
Credit: Bruce Tatman

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