The Houston Texans have claimed the last two AFC South titles, but qualifying for the playoffs — only to face a premature elimination — is no longer an acceptable fate for them.
“Getting to the playoffs isn’t good enough for us anymore, and we understand that,” Texans middle linebacker Brian Cushing told the Houston Chronicle. We’ve been in games and we were in a dogfight with New England until the third quarter and they go on to win the Super Bowl.
“I think that says a lot about where we are and at the same time about how much further we have to go and we understand it. We’re close, but we have a way to go. We’re ready to make the next step.”
Cushing also stated he feels “100 percent” healthy after dealing with a nagging knee injury over the course off the 2016 season.
The Texans boasted one of the most ferocious defensive fronts in the NFL last season, which should continue to dominate opponents, as J.J. Watt is set to return in 2017 after his campaign last year was cut short due to injury. While their pass rush will be borderline unblockable, replacing cornerstone players from a stingy secondary last season won’t be an easy task, as A.J. Boyue and Quintin Demps both departed the team in free agency this offseason.
“Yeah, that’s the NFL,” Cushing said. “That’s just how it goes. It’s next man up. Unfortunately, you can’t keep everybody on your team. As much as you would like to keep your core guys together, it doesn’t work that way…”
Houston’s defense may be championship-caliber, but their current quarterback dilemma could ultimately doom the Texans, even after they discarded Brock Osweiler.
“Yep, just a decision they made,” Cushing said of Houston dumping Osweiler. “They went with it. We’ll see who our quarterback is and go with it. Bottom line: I’m just playing defense and that’s it. That’s what I’m going to worry about.”
That may be Cushing’s only concern, but loyal Texans fans will continue to panic over the situation under center until it is fully resolved.