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The Art of War: Know Thy AFC South Enemies - Texans

The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. 
Sun Tzu 

For the second part of our three-part series we'll be taking a closer look at the weaknesses of another divisional rival, the Houston Texans. I felt like this quote very eloquently described Gary Kubiak. Everyone knows my excitement at Kubiak's extension, as he is the definition of a poor field-general. Gary Kubiak has provided the opportunity for other teams to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on numerous occassions. From the infamous "Rosen-Copter" incident, to the halfback pass at the goal-line. He is a choker when calling plays in do-or-die situations.

That being said, let us take a look at the biggest weaknesses of the Houston Texans heading into the 2010 season. 

Houston Texans: The Texans have been the very definition of average throughout their tenure in the league. Last season was the first year they had a winning record. Now the Texans face the most difficult schedule (based on win pct. from the previous season) of their entire history. 

The Texans have three glaring weaknesses we'll examine: running back, linebacker and offensive tackle positions. 

The running back issue: Steve Slaton experienced a dramatic sophomore slump last year, and had to have surgery on his neck due to injury, which he will try to come back from this season. The Texans responded by drafting Ben Tate, a 5'11" 220lb bruiser who runs a legit 4.4. The running game will be on his massive shoulders.

Tate has to be the answer and stay healthy for the Texans to have any chance of rectifying the RB position. Behind the rookie and the underwhelming Slaton, lies Arian Foster. Foster is a nobody who started two games in Slaton's stead last season. This is a clear area of concern for the Texans. 

The linebacker issue: If it hasn't become readily apparent, Brian Cushing was juicing last year. He'll face a four-game suspension, but his return won't be a panacea for the defensive issues. There are legitimate questions as to which Cushing we'll see next season. Will he be the same player off the "juice" as he was on it? The position he has put his team in is inexcusable. 

The Texans will be starting Demeco Ryans, a smallish LB with speed who is no force in the run-game. Next to Ryans stands Zac Diles, an average at best LB who again, isn't a powerful run-stopper. Cushing was the squads "thumper", and now he'll miss at least a quarter of the most important season in Texans' history. They are expecting to make the playoffs this year, but their offseason moves and Cushing's suspension have not been well-calculated. 

The offensive tackle issue: Remember the debacle that was the Duane Brown draft? The Texans traded down just prior to a run on the OT position, then got scared and traded back up to grab Duane Brown, a player who admitted that he had no contact with the team prior to the draft and didn't know they were interested... Sounds like a panic move to me. 

Either way, Brown has been somewhat of a disappointment, and clearly isn't an elite level LT and never will be in the same class as a guy like Eugene Monroe, who has a much higher ceiling. The other two tackles on the roster are Eric Winston and Rashad Butler (who?). None of the three strike fear into the hearts of opposing DE's. 

The Texans literally cannot afford an injury at any of these high-contact positions, as they are slim behind their starters in terms of depth. The drop-off will be noticeable should a starter at any of these positions go down, which is a real possibility in such a physical division.

-Collin Streetman