After going 9-7 last season with Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden, the Houston Texans have to feel good about adding Brock Osweiler to the mix.
“I think right now we’re putting together a football team in all aspects,” Texans defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “From a quarterback, to every position on offense, bringing in Lamar (Miller), going out in the draft and getting some younger guys, getting a lot of depth (on defense) – I think we’re at a place where we’re pretty confident going into training camp. But everything looks good on paper, so we have to be able to put it together as a team. That’s what it’s going to come down to. It won’t be up to one individual; we need every individual playing at the highest level that they possibly can play at, and if we get that, I think we’ll be successful.”
The Texans, who have made the playoffs in three of the last five years, have gone 9-7 in back-to-back seasons. In 2015, that was enough for a Wild Card berth.
Wilfork, a two-time Super Bowl champion, wants more than that.
“I’m a true believer in every year you have to get better,” he said. “You have to get better by the second at this level because if you stay the same, you lose. You fail. That’s one thing that we preach. We cannot think 9-7 is good enough. It’s not about what anybody else is doing. It’s about how good can we play together? I don’t care about individual stats. Can we put a 53-man roster together and come together each Sunday and play at the highest level? That’s what it’s going to take.”
Wilfork believes the organization is better now than it was one year ago at this time.
“I see guys a lot more focused, a lot more mature, a lot more (energetic) – it’s like the game is starting to come like it’s supposed to,” he said. “When the game comes to you the way it’s coming to us now, even though we got a five-week break before training camp, that shows we had a good foundation. I think our coaching staff and our organization has done a great job of putting this team together, so we’re moving in the right direction so we got to continue to build. Right now, I think we have the pieces in place to be a pretty good football team.”
The Texans started 1-4 and 2-5 last season. Brandon Tierney wondered if the slow start had anything to do with being featured on Hard Knocks, but Wilfork doesn’t think that was the issue.
“No, I don’t think it had anything to do with that,” he said. “You can’t point a finger. Everybody looked in the mirror and had to check themselves at the door before we walked in after that (44-26 loss in Miami). Our season was headed in the wrong direction being 2-5 and going on the road to (face) a Cincinnati ball club that a lot of people had as the best team in the league at the time.”
The Texans beat the previously unbeaten Bengals, 10-6, on Monday Night Football on Nov. 16.
“I just knew that week something kind of clicked on this ball club and said, ‘You know what? We’re going to switch this thing around. We’re going to start playing smarter, we’re going to start being tougher, we’re going to start making a little bit more plays and stop making bone-headed plays,” Wilfork said. “We won seven out of the nine last games that we played.”
The Texans hosted Kansas City in the Wild Card round but lost 30-0.
“That wasn’t a great feeling,” Wilfork said, “but we got a chance to get a taste of what the playoffs feel like, the atmosphere, the fans, the organization, the city, how much the city was behind us. I think everybody wants to get back to that feeling because Houston is a great place. We want to play for our families and our fans and organization. That’s one of the things that we talked about this offseason – let’s start faster this year. Whatever we got to do to start faster, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to see how it goes, and hopefully it’ll work out for the best. But I’m very happy and I’m very excited about this season and seeing where this team is going to go.”