The Houston Texans got a much-needed break from the first 10 weeks of the season where wins, hard-nosed play and injuries dominated the Texans headlines. Despite adversity every week the Texans still managed to come out the first 10 games with a 7-3 record.
These last 6 weeks of the will be under the guidance of backup and former first round pick Matt Leinart. Leinart is taking over for starter Matt Schaub who suffered a right foot injury that might land him on injured reserve, it is believed to be a lis franc injury, the same injury to have landed safety Dominique Barber on the injured reserve.
With the AFC South title in the Texans sights, they control their destiny and playoff future. All the tie breakers and who beat who shouldn't mean anything, finishing what the Texans started since training camp is the main goal. That goal is the playoffs.
Here are 10 thoughts...
1. With Matt Schaub looking like he is headed to the injured reserve, he even said his foot is every color in the book and it looks like a cinder block. Texans fans are going to have to come to grips that he is probably done for the 2011 season, with that said the Texans are going to have to bring in another quarterback to give them three. Trust us we like T.J. Yates, but is he ready, hopefully we don't find out. The front office is going to have to do due diligence to bring in the right quarterback, we know the Texans have already kicked the tires on ex-University of Rice quarterback Chase Clement who was apart of the UFL. Let's hope they bring in someone who can command this offense, just in case he is needed.
2. The Texans are going to have to stick with what has made them successful this season, running the ball. It is crazy to think this team is falling into the trend of the pass first trend across the NFL. The Texans run game with the defense set up a deadly combination for any NFL team to face. The passing game is there to keep the defense honest and in the 4 game winning streak the Texans have run the ball 233 times compared to only 91 times throwing the ball. They are rushing the ball with success 72% of the time and that is going to prove big these last 6 games.
3. The Texans defense is definitely the difference maker and the reason for 7 wins this season. There is so much confidence with the ability of the defense to stop other team that all the pressure does not fall completely on the offense to win the game. If there is anytime for the defense to turn it up another level now would be the time. The Texans defense a currently ranked in the NFL:
1st in yardage given up a game (269.7)
2nd in points given up a game (16.6)
1st in yards per play (4.7)
1st in 1st downs given up per game (16.1)
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5th in Sacks (28.0)
4th in interceptions (14)
4. Lost in the shuffle of all this bad news of the loss of Matt Schuab is the return of Andre Johnson. Johnson has been out since Week 5 against the Oakland Raiders. Johnson says he is healthy and ready to go for the home stretch. Adding Johnson back to the lineup will prove vital for Matt Leinart, and the quicker he can get in tune with Johnson it could prove big for his success as the starter for the Texans.
5. It has been quiet on the Danieal Manning front, but since having a fractured leg that he suffered against the Tennessee Titans on an interception his road to recovery is going on to 5 weeks. Not being placed on injured reserve tells us he will be returning, but how soon is still up in the air. The return of Manning will give the Texans some major depth at the safety position with Troy Nolan and the emergence of Quintin Demps. With such good play with Nolan and Demps lately it help the Texans make sure Manning is 100% before he steps on the field.
6. It may not seem big in some people's eyes but with Matt Leinart now under center him being a left-handed quarterback will change the opponents scouted tendencies on the Texans offense. It will play a big part, because Head Coach Gary Kubiak will make sure the offense is run to where Leinart is most comfortable. Rolling out to the left, throwing to the left and whatever else Kubiak can think of with his new quarterback. All of the AFC South teams will have to pay close attention of how the Texans offense changes these coming weeks.
7. The Texans need to continue to start fast and put opposing teams out of their comfort zone. The Texans so far this season in the 1st half have dominated.
1st quarter +64 points
2nd quarter +52 points
1st half + 116 points
Net Points for the season: +107 (ranked second)
8. After Schaub got hurt all of a sudden the AFC was wide open according to media and AFC South fans. Well the Texans did not take the field and open up a two game lead against the second place Tennessee Titans. Guess the media forgot about the Texans offensive line, Arian Foster and the defense, because they have been the biggest factors in the Texans success this season.
9. We have said this before but the stars of the team are going to have to step it up a notch. Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, Brian Cushing and Johnathan Joseph are all going to have to set the tone for the team to follow. It is times like these where your stars have to step up and lead, and now is the time.
10. How the team answers during this time rest on how Gary Kubiak gets his team ready. Luckily this season he has Wade Phillips to lean on and help take some of the pressure off of him. In a do or die season for Kubiak he knows what he has to do, and getting the Texans to the AFC South title could be an accomplishment in itself. With all of the injuries something has to be said for how he has kept this team focused, and this time should be no different.