I just had the opportunity yesterday to attend the Houston Texans training camp and watch their program and their workout. So here are some TC thoughts from a rival team.
First of all you should know that the Texans had an awesome passing attack last year and featured Matt Schaub at QB and he was the Pro Bowl MVP. Now if that doesn’t get your juices flowing and the fact that they passed for more than 290 yards per game against their opponents, including a notable game against the Miami Dolphins last year in which the Fins nearly had a come-from-behind huge win. In fact their premier receiver, Andre Johnson has caught more than 100 passes per year 3 out of the last 4 years and led the NFL in receiving yards the last 2 seasons. This is no small accomplishment in the NFL, obviously. So, what of it?
Well I’m here to tell you that although they have a very good passing game and a lot of elements that are together here in Houston, there are some flaws in this machine. And it made me want to compare our Miami Dolphins to them as they ended the season 9-7 for their first winning season in franchise history.
First of all, they are (by and large) small players. You’ll excuse the pun here but the average height of their cornerbacks is 5’10″ tall, for instance. Now, I’m imagining the playoffs where the Texans stand a good chance of appearing and possibly playing the Dolphins. I have 2 points about this: the Dolphins receivers average all over 6′ tall and probable starters, Brandon Marshall and Brian Hartline are 6’4″ and 6’2″ respectively, and the other point is that the O-Lines and D-Lines are a mismatch at this point. Basically, watching their offense vs. defense drills it looked almost like a team of high school kids. And yet they were 9-7. I do not see them excelling against a Miami Dolphins team this season but their talent has put them ahead of other teams despite this.
The Triad here in Miami, mainly one Bill Parcells has notably chosen to draft and acquire prototypical size requirements. And I suspect this is going to now start to pay off. Down in the trenches, where the real fighting and battling ensues, you can bet that size and strength are what matter and tilt the scales (so to speak) and then comes the technique. The Miami O-Line averages 6’4″ tall and even has 3 players at 6’7″. And the average weight (remember the Washington Redskins when the Hogs played and the Superbowl in 1982 beating the Dolphins) are an average of 315 lbs (note: the Redskins were noted for having 3 players at over 300 pounds yet now all of the Miami players are over 300 lbs). The Texans defensive line (they play a 4-3) are averaging about 6’3″ and 280 lbs. Where’s the beef? In Miami. The Texans O-Line aveages 6’3″ and 305 lbs but the newly revamped Miami defensive line players average 6’4″ and 310 lbs. If there is any credence to a pound-for-pound comparison then Miami would win there.
Now there is a point here that should be addressed: around the league, most teams are big and strong and have lines over 300 lbs these days, sure. But Miami will not be blown off the line by anybody in the league. You can take that to the bank. The strength coach, Evan Marcus has developed a very good conditioning program as well that has added muscle and strength even to Pat White.
Second concerning my watching the Texans yesterday: they did not seem to be running at full speed and acting with the intensity that one would expect from a team that should be competing for the playoffs. And yet from the reports coming out of Dolphin camp, the intensity is high and a strong demand for excellence exists (update: yesterday’s Miami Dolphins practice was reported as, “slow and sluggish” by Armando Salguerro of the Miami Herald but this so far has not been the usual situation).
A bottom line here is that these Miami Dolphins have the talent, size and strength, and intensity as well as the coaching to compete and win against any other team in this league. And if you need further proof, short of them displaying such in a game situation, consider the recent words (courtesy of the Miami Herald) from Don Shula, “I think they’re headed in the right direction. I like Tony Sparano, and I think he’s doing a good job with the team.”