It has not been an easy journey over 18 years. The Texans have made the playoffs just six times and have never been past the divisional round. Houston has won the AFC South in four of the last five years but have not been labeled as a Super Bowl contender. Maybe this is because Bill O’Brien is still the head coach.
After the 2019 season, there were rumors, and hopes from Texans’ fans, that O’Brien would be let go. The front office decided to do the exact opposite. They gave O’Brien the general manager role along with being the head coach. Well, at least the team has Deshaun Watson, who could end up on this list in the future. Until then, here are the three biggest legends in Texans’ history.
4. Gary Kubiak
Kubiak was the second head coach in the history of the franchise. Dom Capers patrolled the sidelines for four years but was let go after not producing a winning season. In 2006, Kubiak inherited a team that won just two games in the previous season.
After a 6-10 season in year one, Kubiak brought the Texans to .500 for the first time in team history. They finished 8-8 in 2007 and 2008. The 2011 season was a historical one for the Texans. They won 10 games for the first time, picked up their first AFC South title, and won their first playoff game. It was a 31-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on wild card weekend.
In 2012, Kubiak led the Texans to yet another division title and a 12-4 record. This is still the best mark in franchise history. They would take down the Bengals once again in the wild card round. Kubiak coached many great defensive players. He was on the sidelines when J.J. Watt won Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. He also coached DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing during Defensive Rookie of the Year seasons.
Kubiak never made a conference title game and was let go after a 2-11 start to the 2013 season. This does not wipe out the fact that he changed the dynamic of the franchise and helped them learn what the playoffs were all about.
3. Robert C. McNair
In June of 1997, McNair, along with Chuck Watson, were bypassed in their efforts to bring an NHL expansion team to Houston. They decided to give it a try in the NFL. Once Adams moved the Oilers to Tennessee, Houston was up for grabs.
Right away, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was all over the idea of an NFL team in Houston. After two years of meetings and votes, the NFL owners voted 29-0 to bring a 32nd franchise to Houston. It was official. The transition logo was debuted in November and the team began hiring staff right away in 2000.
The Texans took the field for the first time in 2002. They drafted David Carr with the first overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft and they were ready for game play. Houston won just four games that year but one of them of their Week 1 debut against the Dallas Cowboys.
How could you not have the man who created the franchise on the list? McNair is responsible for bringing football back to Houston and he will always be remembered for the accomplishment.
2. Andre Johnson
In the 2003 NFL Draft, the Texans selected Miami receiver Andre Johnson with the third overall pick. This was after the Detroit Lions selected Charles Rogers second overall. The Texans got the better of the deal. Rogers was out of the league in three years with just 36 catches for 440 yards and three touchdowns.
By year three in Houston, Johnson already totaled 12 touchdowns, had a 1,000 yard season under his belt, and was named a Pro Bowler one time. In 2006, Johnson took the next step and led the NFL with 103 catches. By 2008, he was one of the best in the game.
Johnson was named an All-Pro in 2008 and 2009. He led the league in catches with 115 and receiving yards with 1,575 in 2008. He would put up a similar season in 209 with 101 catches for 1,569 yards. As a member of the Texans, Johnson went over 100 catches five times, 1,000 yards seven times, and totaled 64 receiving touchdowns.
Johnson still holds the Texans’ all time receiving records. He finished his Houston career with 1,012 catches, 13,597 yards, and 64 touchdowns. He finished up his career with one season in both Indianapolis and Tennessee. Johnson will go down as one of the two best Texans of all time.
1. J.J. Watt
The Texans made their best draft pick in franchise history when they selected Wisconsin linebacker Justin James Watt with the 11th pick in 2011. Better known as J.J., the newcomer did not waste time in becoming one of the top defensive players in the game.
In just his second season, Watt led the NFL with 20.5 sacks. He would match that number in 2014 and total 17.5 sacks in 2015. Watt put up one of the best stretches by a linebacker in NFL history. He is a five-time Pro Bowler and First Team All-Pro member. Watt is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and is still playing at a high-level. He has dealt with injuries but he was still able to rack up 16 sacks as recent as 2018.
When talking about Watt, it is impossible to ignore his work off the field. He was named the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year. This is an award that he could be given every year. After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Watt raised upwards of $40 million to help rebuild the city. Watt revealed in 2019 that the money was used to rebuild over 1,183 homes and 971 childhood care centers and after school programs. This year, Watt and wife Kealia Ohai donated $350k to Houston foodbanks amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Watt quickly made a name for himself on the field. He did not wait to use his platform to help the less fortunate and those in need of help. There is no doubt that he is the biggest legend in Texans’ history for many reasons. This is a title that he will hold for quite some time.