Continuing with the AFC South in our interview series, today we have Daniel Charles from Battle Red Blog. Daniel was nice enough to answer some questions, so today you get to hear a Texans fan's perspective about their season. So sit back and read on for a little Q&A.
Jon: After coming just short of the playoffs in 2009 and with the Texans’ first winning season, what were your expectations going into 2010?
Daniel: I said on Battle Red Blog numerous times that my expectations were 10, 11 wins and a playoff birth. Heading into their bye week at 4-2 with the Colts sputtering, I thought division title was certainly feasible. I'm certainly the BRB optimist, but no one thought they'd be competing to stay out of the division cellar.
Jon: Did anyone know just how poorly the Texans defense was going to be in 2010?
Daniel: Not one single person saw this defense coming. Yahoo! Sports writer Jason Cole ripped the Texans secondary in his preseason rankings, and everyone thought he was full of it.
Even if the secondary was inexperienced, the front seven were considered a strength of the team. However, people disregarded Mario Williams' early hip issue and Brian Cushing's four-game suspension. Once MLB DeMeco Ryans went down, the wheels on the bus came off and that bus exploded.
Jon: Considering most of the defensive coaching staff was fired, was it all the fault of coaching? How much of it was execution by the players?
Daniel: It depends on which Texans fan you ask. Some will recognize that having FS Eugene Wilson, OLB Zac Diles, and NT Shaun Cody starting wasn't doing defensive coordinator Frank Bush any favors. Those are three guys who are back-ups at best.
On the other hand, blitz calls that show no creativity (a linebacker lining up on the line in a dead giveaway) or dropping a hard-hitting safety like Bernard Pollard into a deep zone are just bad coaching calls.
In the end, while the players weren't great...they weren't put in any position to succeed. Having your cornerbacks and linebackers eight yards off the ball in the red zone is completely dumbfounding. When defensive talent rarely progresses from season to season then you know that the coaches aren't teaching good technique either.
Jon: Name an MVP of the Texan’s offense and a LVP of the Texan’s defense. Why would you give it to them?
Daniel: The MVP has to be FB Vonta Leach. While Arian Foster was a relevation and deserving of all praise, Leach's return to form in 2010 was a big reason why Foster and Derrick "The Glacier" Ward found lanes to walk through.
Leach, affectionately known as the Human Coke Machine over on BRB due to his size, just flattened linebackers and safeties in a cruel and delightful (to Houston fans) way. Watch any game and Leach was a bulldozer. Beyond that, The Human Coke Machine was a valuable special teams contributer and did whatever he was asked. He's a Pro Bowler and All-Pro and is deserving of more praise for a great season...I can safely say that Foster would say the same thing.
The LVP on defense has to be weakside linebacker Zac Diles. Diles couldn't tackle anyone, couldn't cover anyone, and was so bad that he lost his starting position to a rookie - a big deal given how loyal Gary Kubiak is.
If I recall correctly, Diles allowed 92-95% of passes thrown his way to be completed. He was so terrible that many of the writing staff had gotten to a point where we couldn't understand why offensive coordinators wouldn't just have a tight end do a 5-yard out his way every single play since he couldn't stop anyone. As bad as Eugene Wilson is, Diles was needed to step up when Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans weren't in the lineup, and his regression was epic.
Jon: What is the Texan’s biggest need going into the off-season?
Daniel: I'm sure most people expect me to say cornerback given the pass defense, but a free safety who can actually provide support over the top would make Kareem Jackson, Glover Quin, and Jason Allen look infinitely better. However, that position is trumped by another.
The Texans haven't been the strongest up the middle of their defense since the days of Seth Payne, and you can't have a weak middle when you run a 3-4 defense. Right now, Houston has Shaun Cody, Amobi Okoye, and Earl Mitchell - not exactly names who will anchor the middle. If there's no nose then the scheme will fall apart and it has to be the most-needed position on the roster.
Jon: What is the biggest hope for the Texans moving forward?
Daniel: The biggest hope for the Texans is that they get out of their own way and finally deliver playoff football to the City of Houston. The front office needs to get better at utilizing free agency to provide some veteran leaders on the roster, the coaching staff has to stop getting too cute for their own good, and the players need to start realizing their potential on the field. The next NFL season really is "Playoffs or Bust" for the Houston Texans - no more excuses.