Many were the dubious Texans fans who did not believe a .500 season was possible after their abysmal 0-4 start.  Nevertheless, with the help of offensive standouts Andre Johnson and Steve Slaton, the Texans managed to finish 8-8 for the second year in a row.

For any football fan around the nation it seems hard to believe the Houston, Texans boast the third best offense in the NFL – bested only by New Orleans and Denver respectively.  The non-stop playmaking of Slaton and Johnson indubitably anchored the team in the midst of spotty quarterback production and a struggling defense.

Steve Slaton

Slaton, a rookie, rushed for 1,282 yards this season and nine touchdowns.  Because of his size (5’9 and 210lbs.), at the beginning of the season Slaton was not slotted as an every down back; rather, he would compliment Ahman Green as a dynamic, fast cutting alternate.

Soon after the season began Slaton would carry the load alone as Ahman Green, staying true to form, suffered an injury early in the season and never fully recovered.  Slaton shouldered the running game with the poise of an NFL veteran.  The serendipitous pick from Virginia Tech provided blistering breakaway speed, cuts reminiscent of – dare I say – Barry Sanders, yardage after almost every tackle, and excellent receiving.

Andre Johnson

In Andre Johnson the Texans have found a world class receiver and the rock of the franchise.  At 6’3, 223 lbs. and a former college track star, Johnson has the athletic acumen of a top wide receiver.  Johnson was the NFL leader in receptions and yardage this regular season with 115 receptions, 1575 yards, and 98 plus yards per game.  His low key attitude has also offered Houston a respite from the drama other teams have faced with hot-shot, self dramatizing receivers. i.e. Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress, Chad Ocho Cinco.

Team Problems

Despite Slaton’s and Johnson’s stellar seasons there were glaring inconsistencies in the Texans quarterbacking.  Matt Shaub finished the season with a formidable quarterback rating of 95.3, but is yet to complete a season with the Texans without injury.  Sage Rosenfels, the often implemented second string QB, showed a microcosm of his 2008 season during the Texans first game against the Colts.   After building a substantial lead, the Colts mounted a horrific comeback in the final minute: Sage squandered 17 points, threw two interceptions, and inadvertently attempted a bizarre, flying helicopter maneuver while fumbling the ball.

Looking Forward to Next Year

In an effort to revamp the Texans defense, the front office cleaned house recently: firing the defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach, and defensive line coach.  Shaub, after coming off a strong finish, could be poised for his strongest year ever.  Quarterback and defense aside, with Slaton lining up in the back field and Johnson wide, the Texans will be a formidable force in 2009.

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