This 2009 Houston Texans team ball, fully autographed by the team was given to me by my friend Erik, whose brother David played on the Texans and gave it to me as thanks for spending extra hours after class working with him on his digital design skills. I warned him that this gift was unlocking Pandora’s box as I had been an aggressive autograph collector when I was younger and this would only encourage me to return to the hobby. A year later, I have the website up and running and have gotten back roughly some 200+ autographs through the mail.
The 2009 Houston Texans were a special team at the time of the franchise’s development. Since the city’s return to football, the Texans had not had a winning record in 8 seasons. (Time flies and that’s sort of depressing, but I can deal with it to get a divorce from Bud Adams- one of the worst owners and people alive.)
The Texans would set new team records for offensive proliferation thanks in part to an injury free season played by Matt Schaub and the inconsistency of the team’s running game. After the relative optimism of Steve Slaton‘s break out 2008 campaign the team would try a runningback by committee approach with Slaton, Ryan Moats, and Arian Foster. As the team’s offense would truly break out under Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan’s play selection, the defense would struggle against the run under coordinator Frank Bush. Adjustments would be made and the team would sign hard hitting safety Bernard Pollard off of waivers from Kansas City, and the team would slowly improve over the remainder of the season. Surprisingly stout against the pass, the team wasn’t bad on defense by the end of the season, however wasn’t the strongest at forcing sacks and creating turnovers. In the end, it would be generous to call the team’s defensive output, “average”.
The season would be keyed by two games: The season opener against the New York Jets, and the season finale against the New England Patriots. As the Texans were being billed as the team coming of age, the Jets were perceived as rebuilding. New head coach Rex Ryan and his Jets would march into Houston and solidly smack Houston in the mouth, exposing the Texans as paper tigers.
The Texans by week 9 were sitting at a franchise best 5-4 going into the bye, but slumped out of the gate, losing to the Titans, Jaguars, and Colts. I held firm that the next 3 games were winnable against the Seahawks, Rams, and Dolphins as Arian Foster would emerge from the team’s runningback stable. The Texans needed help but could get into the playoffs. With those wins solidly out of the way, the team was still clinging to narrow playoff hopes but needed a victory against the Patriots and the Colts to beat the Jets. The Texans amazingly did just that, paced by Bernard Pollard who had a career game to get the team to the brink of the playoffs.
Unfortunately the Jets game at the beginning of the season would be the deciding factor for the playoffs, as the Jets slid in, due in part to Indianapolis’ charity in sitting its starters for its final two contests. The Texans were left watching from home at 9-7.
Regardless the season was a milestone for the franchise in 2009. Brian Cushing would come out and win RoY honors, while Glover Quin would also make significant contributions. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson would have monster seasons, with Schaub earning Pro Bowl MVP honors after leading the league in passing yardage and Johnson leading the league with over 1500 yards receiving for the second consecutive season. 5 players would be nominated to the ProBowl that year: Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, Mario Williams, Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans. On a sadder note, Chester Pitts club record of consecutive games started would come to an end at 114 games after he broke his leg in week 2. The team would also discover runningback Arian Foster, a free agent signee buried on their depth chart.
The team was unable to capitalize off of their 2009 performance and were awarded the most difficult schedule in the NFL in 2010. The Texans finished a lackluster 6-10 with a punch less defense and a swiss cheese secondary. Wholesale firings would take place as defensive coordinator Frank Bush would be fired along with the majority of his staff, along with the majority of the secondary, including the two starting safeties. As the team looks forward to 2011, with a new defensive coordinator in place (Wade Phillips) and new additions to the team, all signs point to up for the young Texans franchise.