Tuesday, August 21, 2018
The Franchise 9: Houston Texans
One feature I want to make for this blog is to feature the best nine players for each franchise. Why nine? Because then I get to create a binder with a page for each team, of course! To make my task a little easier, I've decided to narrow the field to Super Bowl Era players only. First of all, it eased the selection process because I wanted to keep each team to nine players. Second, it makes it a bit easier to collect the cards I need without having to bust my budget on a lot of vintage. Third, since half the teams in the NFL don't have history too far beyond the advent of the Super Bowl, it levels the field a little for the newer teams.
As is always the case with any type of ranking, there will be plenty of room for debate. This is in no way a definitive list. I have a soft spot in my heart for the guys in the trenches, so some may say that I have included too many offensive linemen. Interestingly, I have found that most teams have a 5/4 split between offense and defense, or vice-versa. I didn't intentionally try to even it out, that's just how it turned out. This is just my opinion, and I tried to base it on both stats and status. I've learned a little bit of football history in the process as well, and having a bit of history is one of the appeals of collecting to me. In any case, it gave me another something to do with my cards, and that's why I did it in the first place.
The Houston Texans are the youngest team in the NFL, only coming into existence in 2003. Not surprisingly, they have probably the weakest and most fluid Franchise 9 as a result. As it stands now for this newer franchise, here are the best in its history.
1. Matt Schaub, QB (2009 Playoff Contenders)
As it stands, Matt Schaub is the greatest quarterback in Texan history, and it's not even close. A kid named Watson may be changing that within the next couple of years, but right now it's Schaub. In his first six years with Houston, he made two Pro Bowls and had a rating under 90 just once. He even led the league in passing yardage in 2009. Somehow, he became a pick-six machine in his last year with Texans and moving forward, and the numbers there are so mind-boggling that they suggest as much bad luck as bad play. For most of his stint in Houston, however, Schaub was an efficient, if not spectacular QB.
2. Arian Foster, RB (2014 Topps Valor)
Once again, we have a player who is clearly the best in franchise history without a whole ton of competition. In seven Texan seasons, Foster rushed for 6,472 yards and 54 touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. The next closest rushing total is over 3000 yards behind him. Foster was one of the league's top running backs for a stint and wholly deserves his spot on this team's Top 9.
3. Andre Johnson, WR (2003 Bowman RC)
Johnson is not only the greatest Texan receiver, but he is also one of the NFL's greatest. Perhaps because he played for a team that was irrelevant for much of his career, Johnson is widely underrated. All he did was catch 1,012 balls (good for 11th all-time) and score 64 times. I hope he gets some love when he becomes eligible for Canton.
4. DeAndre Hopkins, WR (2014 Bowman)
After learning from Johnson for a couple of years, Hopkins stepped right into his place as the team's go-to guy. After five years in the league, Hopkins already ranks second behind Johnson on the franchise leaderboard in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. And that was playing with some of the worst quarterbacking in recent memory. If Deshaun Watson continues to grow in the potential he flashed last season, Hopkins could really become scary.
5. Duane Brown, OT (2013 Topps)
Brown has been the best offensive lineman in the team's history. Between 2012-2014, he was named to three straight Pro Bowls and one 1st-Team All-Pro. That doesn't include 2011, when he had his best, most impactful season, according to Pro Football Reference and their Approximate Value score.
6. J.J. Watt, DE (2013 Prestige)
Injuries have kept Watt sidelined for a couple of years now, but it really wasn't that long ago that Watt the most dominant defensive player in the league. In a four-year stretch, Watt racked up 69 sacks, including two 20 sack seasons. In 2014, he registered 20.5 sacks, returned both an interception and a fumble for a touchdown. . . and caught two touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball. I may be a Packers fan, but I could make a strong argument for Watt as MVP over Aaron Rodgers that season.
7. Jadeveon Clowney, DE (2014 Prestige Draft Picks)
This is this the truest sign that the Texans don't have much history. Clowney was drafted only 4 years ago, missed most of his first season due to injury, and just started to find his footing during the second season. Basically, in two full years of work, Clowney has already shown enough to be one of the top Houston Texans of all-time. He is only 20 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries into his career, but he is disruptive enough to command constant attention from the opponent. If he shows the explosiveness that made him the #1 overall pick in the draft, he will retain this spot. If not, some other youngster may pass him up shortly.
8. Brian Cushing, LB (2011 Rookies & Stars)
Cushing came into the league on fire. In 2009, he made 86 tackles, 4 sacks, and 4 picks en route to a Rookie of the Year award and a Pro Bowl berth. Injuries and PED suspensions have slowed him down since, but he is still on the team and contributing. He currently ranks second in franchise history in tackles, eighth in interceptions, and ninth in sacks. According to Pro Football Reference, the trajectory of his first three seasons matched players like Willie Lanier, Jack Ham, DeMarcus Ware, and LaVarr Arrington over their first three seasons.
9. Johnathan Joseph, CB (2013 Topps)
Joseph has been the anchor of the Texans' secondary since 2011. Since coming over from Cincinnati, Joseph has made two Pro Bowls and is currently tied for the franchise record for interceptions. He is still in a starting role with the team, so his impact on the franchise history will likely keep growing.
What do you think? Who would you change out if you had to limit this team to the 9 best players of the past 50 years? Let the discussions begin!