Were Texans better in 2011 or 2012?

Were the 2012 Texans better than the 2011 Texans?

They won a couple more games, but both seasons ended in the divisional round of the playoffs.

“Obviously, we took a step from last year I think, with our young guys stepping up,”’ cornerback Johnathan Joseph told Houston media Monday. “I just think we have to build on that and just continue to go forward.”

Defensive end Antonio Smith said the 2011 version of the team had a tendency to fold up when things went bad, and this year’s version was better at fighting through difficulties, though some of the same problem surfaced late in the year.

Asked if this team made progress from last year, safety Danieal Manning said, “Totally, I really did.”

“We’re still young, we’re still growing, I think we experienced it all,” Manning said. “Now we just have to know how to continue to fight and get past the divisional round.

“We improved in the win category. Defensively, we’ve learned a lot about this defense. We’ve got a better grasp of it. From that standpoint we grew a lot.”

But was this season a success?

Likely defensive player of the year J.J. Watt is a member of the camp that says if you don’t win it all you haven’t succeeded.

“No, I don’t see it as a success,” Watt said. “We don’t have a trophy, so it’s not a success. And in my mind in this league if you don’t have a trophy then you’re not a success. So we work hard this offseason, put every single thing we have into it, and we’re going to come back next season with that trophy on our mind.”

That’s not anything last year’s team would have, or should have, said.

Last year’s injuries were more spread out -- with season-enders for quarterback Matt Schaub, outside linebacker Mario Williams as well as significant missed time for receiver Andre Johnson.

This year’s injuries came largely at one position, where inside linebacker Brian Cushing went down in October and guys who filled in -- Tim Dobbins, Daryl Sharpton -- also got hurt, struggled to stay in the lineup and ultimately wound up on IR.

I think this year’s team was better. As they rolled to 11-1 they were an awfully good team that could win in all different sorts of ways.

The sputter-out at the end was incredibly disappointing, though, and told us a great deal about the group as we got the full story.

I’m curious what you think, so please vote and comment.