The Houston Texans completed the first half of their 2012 campaign to the tune of a 7-1 record. The season has been relatively smooth thus far as the Texans have sailed to several easy victories and for the most part have been in control throughout their seven victories. Now that the season is half over, it’s time to look back at how the Texans got to 7-1 and award the players that got them here.
Special Teams MVP – LB Bryan Braman
Special teams have been a glaring weakness for the Texans through their first eight games, but Braman has been a slight silver lining. The Texans frequently struggle on returns and commit numerous penalties on all special teams, but Braman has stood out, particularly in coverage. Braman has recorded twelve special teams tackles to date and frequently shows up around the football. Braman hasn’t played much on defense, but seemingly has an impact every game with the chances he’s given on special teams.
Top Offensive Lineman – C Chris Myers
The Texans’ O-line has struggled at times during the first eight games, and I’ve been particularly tough on this group (granted I have high expectations for them). All five O-lineman have struggled at times, but the most consistent has been Myers. Sure, a center is probably the least tested throughout a game from a pass protection standpoint and the Texans rarely run in either of the center’s gaps. Still, the sign of a great O-lineman is one that rarely draws attention from commentators during a game. If you watch closely, Myers almost never misses an assignment and always bodies his assigned defender until the whistle.
Offensive MVP – QB Matt Schaub
There are a couple of players who could be deserving of offensive MVP, particularly RB Arian Foster and TE Owen Daniels. But I’m going with Schaub. He is the glue of the offense, the quiet, virtually mistake free leader who does whatever is asked of him to win games. Schaub is currently completing 63.9% of his passes for 1,918 yards, 12 TDs and 4 INTs. His 96.8 passer rating ranks 7th in the NFL, definitely impressive for a quarterback in Schaub’s position. Some games, Schaub is asked to hand the ball off to Foster and RB Ben Tate. Other games, Schaub is instrumental in the play-action passing game. And in other games, Schaub is asked to drop back in a traditional passing offense to beat a defense. Schaub gives the Texans the flexibility to be the dynamic offensive unit that has helped them to their 7-1 record.
Team MVP – DE J.J. Watt
This one is fairly obvious. Watt has been the driving force behind the Texans’ third ranked defense. Watt has flat out harassed opposing quarterbacks, leading the NFL in sacks (10.5) and is tied for eighth in passes defended (battled down) as the only non-defensive back in the top 40. Although the Texans’ D has been solid and at times dominant, many of the individual players have struggled at times in addition to the loss of captain ILB Brian Cushing. The constant has been Watt, whose dominance has drawn extra attention from opposing offenses and thus has opened up opportunities for teammates. The team’s successes throughout the second half of the season and into the playoffs will greatly depend on Watt’s continued play.
Player To Watch In The Second Half – WR Andre Johnson
Johnson has quietly come on as of late, catching 25 passes for 279 yards in the team’s last three games. There has been questions surrounding Johnson’s status as an elite wide receiver and up until a month ago, it appeared Andre had lost a step. But as opponents continue to load the box against the Texans’ run game, Johnson is more and more frequently finding himself in single coverage. He and Schaub have begun to reconnect and while Andre is probably past his prime, on any given day he can still be a top-10 NFL WR. With all the complimentary weapons on Texans’ offense, look for Johnson to reemerge as a serious receiving threat.
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