One week from today, 90 elite athletes will strap on pads and walk across the bridge from NRG Stadium to the practice fields of the Methodist Training Center. These men will spend the next several weeks competing for one of 53 roster spots available on the Houston Texans.
The franchise has only been around for thirteen seasons, but it has an estimated value of $1.85 billion, which ranks fifth in the NFL and sixteenth among all sports franchises in the world. Fans have clearly shown their love of football with sellout crowds filling the stadium every single game since the NFL returned to Houston. In all that time, the team has mostly struggled to be successful, though it has won two division titles. That small taste of success helps to fuel the hope of fans who recently crashed the online system while snatching up every available training camp ticket in less than six minutes.
Despite that passion, the Texans have glaring questions as they enter training camp to prepare for the 2015 NFL season. Perhaps the biggest one is at the most important position on the field. Debates have raged throughout the sports media about what defines an NFL quarterback as "elite." Bob McNair shared his thoughts in a recent interview, which included a voice of confidence that the Houston Texans are built to win a championship without a "super quarterback."
You may recall our recent article that questioned whether the Texans were combining the formulas of two championship organizations, attempting to meld the team management philosophy and schemes of the New England Patriots with the stout defense and physical running attack of the Seattle Seahawks. It would appear that is indeed the case as the Texans realize there are only a handful of "super quarterbacks" out there. Until they find their franchise signal-caller, the Texans will focus on limiting the other team from scoring points and grinding out the clock on the ground with a punishing running game.
"I feel we have a group that the city can be proud of. I'm certainly proud of them," said McNair, who led the march to bring the NFL back to Houston in 2002. "We still have a long way to go to accomplish what we want to accomplish, which is to win the Super Bowl."
Winning A Championship
"You can't get to the Super Bowl without getting in the playoffs," McNair said. "The primary goal is to get in the playoffs. The only sure way you can do that is to win your division. That has to be our goal."
On if the Texans can win a championship without a "super quarterback"
"Other teams have won with this philosophy, and we think we can win that way, too," McNair said. "Now, would we like to have that super quarterback? Absolutely. And if we have the opportunity to get that person or develop that person, that's what we'll do. Maybe Mallett or maybe Hoyer will blossom and be that person for us. It remains to be seen."
"The organizations I've had before have been winners. We play to win. We're not happy if we're not winning. … That's what coach (O'Brien) talks to the team about all the time: Every day we have to get better. We just have to go out and outperform these other players, these other teams."
"You've got to have a coach that's not just a good coach and just average intellect. You need a guy who's smart, and our coach is smart," McNair said. "He's able to size things up and when he needs to make a change, he's not afraid to move quickly. And that's extremely important these days, and the coaches who are really successful can do that."
The General Manager
Some of the people that Gary Kubiak wanted didn't fit in with what coach O'Brienwanted," McNair said. "So all of a sudden, some of those guys that were all right under one system are not adequate under another system. You have that any time under a transition, and that's one reason why transitions hurt you. It does set you back temporarily, because you have a change in personnel."
"Rick's on the (NFL) competition committee, (and) he's respected by the other general managers. We're able to make trades with other teams and to exchange information that's helpful for all of us. He works hard. He came into this position very young, and he's grown into the position. He's a lot better now than he was two or three years ago."
Stephanie Stradley chimed in with a response to McNair's quotes about the GM:
This McNair quote is daggers. Emasculating to his GM. Horror show for fans who've seen Smith GM since 06. ! Just gah. pic.twitter.com/ifFft9NdfI— Stephanie Stradley (@StephStradley) July 26, 2015
"I'm getting stronger," McNair said. "I'm still a little thinner than I was. But I've gained about half the weight I lost. … I can go out and play golf, not quite as well. But hopefully I'll get back to where I was and enjoy life for a long time."