The Houston Texans are without a doubt a franchise on the rise. From their inception in 2000, leading up to last season which saw Houston make their first playoff appearance in franchise history, there are plenty of reasons to argue that Houston is on the verge of becoming one of the NFL's elite. But after Sunday night's primetime 42-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers, a game in which Houston looked heavily overmatched, the faith of many believers has been shaken. At the beginning of the season, many critics had Houston representing the AFC in the Super Bowl; have we overrated the Houston Texans?
2011 was a great year for the Houston Texans. With the addition of defenseive coordinator Wade Phillips and Wisconsin pass rusher extrordinaire J.J. Watt, Houston's improved defensive unit finished 2nd in the league in total defense, and finished 2nd in the league in rushing yards per game. 2012 got off to a great start as well as Houston opened up the season on a five-game win streak before their Sunday Night Football loss, but looking back, have yet to beat a team with a winning record.
Being in the weak AFC South, and having the 29th easiest schedule according to NFLScheduleSuperSite, many saw Houston's match-up against Green Bay as their first true test, so I can understand the uncertianty. But the Texans are still a team you should invest in.
Every NFL team needs an identity; something as a unit that you do best. For Green Bay, it is their passing attack. A quick-strike type of offense that can put points up in a hurry, Aaron Rodgers and his collection of speedy receivers who run great routes can score with the best of them and can put teams away early.
The Texans on the other hand, are completely different. Andre Johnson is still a top 3 wide receiver and Matt Schaub is a good quarterback, but make no mistake: the Texans are a run-first team and Arian Foster is the engine that makes that offense go. The Texans are built to run the ball, eat the clock, and when the opposing defense is caught sleeping, go over the top with the play-action pass. If the Green Bay offense was a sprinter, you would call the Houston offense a long-distance runner.
Simply put, Green Bay took Houston out of their comfort zone by taking the lead early and forcing Houston to play catch up. Green Bay's defense came out committed to stopping Foster and succeeded, holding Foster to an absurd 29 yards on 17 carries. This forced Houston to abandon their gameplan early and rely on the arm of Schaub, who folded under the relentless Green Bay pass rush.
Should Houston fans be worried? No. This was a humbling loss that should refocus the Texans, and if they are the champions many believe them to be, only make them stronger for the future.