- Tania Ganguli, ESPN Staff Writer
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Today's question: Are the Texans better now than they were last year? Can they challenge for the division as they are?
Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts: No. But I like Houston's defense. We're talking about a defense that already features J.J. Watt and has added veterans Vince Wilfork to anchor the middle of the defensive line and Rahim Moore at safety. The Texans re-signed cornerback Kareem Jackson and selected another cornerback, Kevin Johnson, in the first round of the draft. And you can't forget about defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, coming back after missing most of last season with a knee injury. Houston's offense? That's a different story. Several people have told me you need at least a serviceable quarterback if you expect to be able to challenge for a playoff spot. The Texans continue to have a revolving door at that position. The decision to part ways with receiver Andre Johnson continues to be a head scratcher. Watt and Co. will be looking up at the Colts in the division for the third straight year.
Mike DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars: I like what the Texans did in the draft, especially in beefing up the defense by landing cornerback Kevin Johnson and linebacker Benardrick McKinney in the first two rounds. Receiver Jaelen Strong also should make an immediate impact and help offset the loss of Andre Johnson. The Texans should be as good on defense as they were in 2014 (fifth in scoring defense; 10th in rushing defense) and will be able to run the ball. However, I can't see them being significantly better because of their quarterback play. I know Bill O'Brien has a reputation as a QB guru but he's not working with much: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage. Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels also were offensive coordinators in New England with Tom Brady and they didn't exactly work any magic elsewhere. The Texans are better and they will push the Colts, but the division still belongs to Indianapolis. I can see the Texans making the playoffs behind their defense but QB play will hold them back.
Paul Kuharsky, Tennessee Titans: They're better. I think they are better for one main reason -- they're in Year 2 under a coach who did very well getting the most out of his roster last season. I love Bill O'Brien's work product and I'm not expecting a sophomore slump. I think he will continue to get production from a pretty good roster while surviving at quarterback. They can challenge, but only if things go very wrong for the Colts while they simultaneously go right for the Texans. Houston needs a QB, and I don't know what the long-term plan is for getting one. At some point they are probably going to have to give up a great deal to move up and draft their guy.