In 2010, the strategy to beat the Houston Texans was simple. Throw the ball. Throw it on every play. Maybe even throw it during halftime and commercial breaks. Get players who don’t even know how to throw a ball to throw the ball. Just throw it, dammit.
The Texans had easily the worst secondary in the league, which heavily contributed to the 26.7 points per game they allowed in 2010. There were constant shootouts prominently featuring a unit that looked woeful and hopeless.
Then GM Rick Smith signed Johnathan Joseph and Daniel Manning last offseason, and suddenly a dreadful secondary that was subtracting from an otherwise solid defense was more than respectable. It was real, and it was spectacular, and that’s why Smith is more than deserving of the contract extension he’s reportedly about to get along with Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.
Both Kubiak and Smith are set to enter the final years of their contracts, and The Associated Press reports that Houston has secured both for additional years, although the terms aren’t known yet. A press conference will be held later this afternoon.
The shrewd signings executed by Smith in the offseason combined with Kubiak’s leadership during a rash of injuries guided the Texans to their first divisional championship, and their first playoff win. The push came from the aforementioned improvement in the passing defense, which allowed 267.5 yards per game in 2010 (32nd), and then 189.7 in 2011 (3rd). The yards allowed per pass attempt also dropped significantly (from 8.2 to 6.2), and so did the opponent’s passer rating (100.5 to 69.0).
That was Smith’s major contribution during the most successful season in Texans franchise history, in addition to drafting J.J. Watt, whose pass rushing production helped to fill the void left by Mario Williams when he was lost for the season after a torn pectoral muscle. Kubiak, meanwhile, had to deal with far more than just Williams’ absence.
Arian Foster missed two of the first three games, and Andre Johnson went through his yearly battle with a brittle body, sitting out nine games. But the most significant roster mauling was at the most important offensive position: quarterback. Matt Schaub’s season finished in Week 10 after a foot injury that required Lisfranc surgery, and a week later Matt Leinart didn’t even get through one half before separating his shoulder. The last man standing was T.J. Yates, and with a third-string quarterback the Texans still won three of their last six regular-season games, and beat the Bengals on Wild Card Weekend.
The offensive-minded Kubiak continually crafted a gameplan that succeeded despite significant damage at the quarterback position. The injuries to Schaub and Leinart were losses that would cripple most teams, and yet Houston was still winning with a rookie quarterback who was a fifth-round pick.
Smith developed the blueprint, and Kubiak made sure it didn’t come crumbling down. Now the Texans are easily the premier team in the AFC South, and as long as that health luck swings in the other direction they’ll be a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2012.
So yeah, these extensions are a good idea.