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Week 9 Preview: Houston's Pass-Rush Punch

Posted Jul 6, 2014

Out with the old, in with the new, has been a reasonable description of the Texans' offseason. Following a two-win season in 2013, Gary Kubiak was dismissed after eight seasons as head coach. Quarterback Matt Schaub was likewise jettisoned after seven seasons as the team's starter.

The first void was filled early, as Bill O'Brien returned to the NFL after shepherding the Penn State football program for two seasons. The hole at quarterback, however, has yet to be filled long-term. The Texans signed veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started nine games for the Titans last season.

With the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Texans fortified a strength of the team by selecting linebacker Jadevon Clowney to pair with All-Pro J.J. Watt to form a strong one-two pass-rush punch. Clowney did undergo hernia surgery, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll be slowed down to start the season. The Texans selected a quarterback, but not until the fourth round when they added Tom Savage to the mix.

Roster-wise, the Texans' 2013 season is certainly misleading. This is a team that averaged 9.25 wins per year over the last four seasons while making the playoffs in both 2011 and 2012. Up front, Duane Brown is a premier left tackle for a solid offensive line. Arian Foster remains one of the league's most reliable running backs and Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins form a nice duo of experience and youth on the outside at receiver. Johnson, however, stayed away from the team’s mini-camp in the spring as he is reportedly looking to be traded.

Defensively, Watt is one of the league's best players, period. The former first-round pick had only 10.5 sacks in 2013, a year after busting out for 20.5. The 3-4 defensive end plays the position like no one else in the league and will no doubt be a thorn in the side of both Jason Peters and, primarily, Lane Johnson.

The real story here, though, is the trip back home for an impressive stable of former Texans. Over the last two offseasons, the Eagles have become sort of a Texans East. There are, in fact, eight former Texans on the current Eagles roster, all of them acquired since the end of the 2012 season: Connor Barwin, Bryan Braman, Roc Carmichael, James Casey, Andrew Gardner, Donnie Jones, Jeff Maehl and DeMeco Ryans. The Eagles will surely bring some experience to NRG Stadium.

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