Mathematically, the Houston Texans are still alive in the NFL playoff race but that is far beyond what they need to worry about at this moment. The season still has a chance to be salvaged, especially with the opponents that are coming up on the Texans' schedule. Despite the Texans record (2-5), they are still a talented team that has not put it together, but nothing is a given with this 2013 team.
The Texans need some things to fall their way to "save" their season and everything is going to have to fall right in order for this to happen.
The Big Five
The Colts Have to Falter
The Indianapolis Colts have been ravaged by injuries but have been able to dodge these issues with the way Andrew Luck and the defense have been playing. The AFC South is a three horse race minus the Jacksonville Jaguars, and there is still time to catch the Colts before the season ends. With the recent loss of wide receiver Reggie Wayne, the Colts will be heading to Houston without their top offensive weapon for Luck to throw to. The Colts have won tough games that the Texans have not, but at some point the injuries this Colts team has sustained will catch up to them. Will this be the week? No one knows for sure, but the Texans could start the second half of their season on a good note. The Texans are chasing the Colts and wins for the Texans are the only thing that matters, but a victory over the Colts is their best bet to win the AFC South if they want to get to the playoffs.
Find The Pass Rush
The defense has struggled to stop the run and especially in creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and with a defense that is determined to play man to man in the secondary this is a huge factor for the team. Inconsistent production from Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus off the edge and getting to quarterbacks has hurt in big situations when the Texans needed a sack. Also, no real push from the middle from Earl Mitchell or Antonio Smith to collapse the pocket from the interior has been noticeable these first seven games. Teams are going to double and triple team J.J. Watt until another Texans defender can beat one on one situations to get to the quarterback. Making like tough for offenses starts with getting to the quarterback so it is essential for this Texans team to find that pass rush once again.
Goodell on What NFL Lacks on Watson Trade Status
“We don’t have all the access to that information and pride ourselves on not interfering with it,” Goodell says of Watson's situation.
Texans Owner Cal McNair Apologizes for Racial Slur
"I immediately apologized to people who approached me then and I apologize again now. I know how important it is to choose my words carefully. I would never want to offend anyone." - Cal McNair
Goodell Comments on Texans' Deshaun Watson Trade Issue
It's the NFL version of Damocles’ sword. And it's one of three reasons the Deshaun Watson trade hasn't been as "imminent'' as Houston Texans fans have been led to believe. Are things changing?
Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins Need to Be Weapons
This group is one of the most talented skill groups in the NFL and getting them back to be offensive threats will be a good thing to see. All three at times seemed to be lost within the offensive game plan and finding enough football to make them all effective is something that needs to be worked on. All three are capable of beating the man across from them so getting the football to them needs to happen. Foster needs to get healthy while Johnson and Hopkins need to take their game to another level to help the inexperienced quarterback in Keenum. Making plays will make Keenum's situation easier to manage, and getting them involved in the offense will be up to the second year signal caller. Big players make big plays in games, and now it is time for the three to take advantage of their new quarterback.
Case Keenum Has To Prove He is an NFL Starter
Good quarterbacks make players around them better and can cover up shortcomings of their teammates. Keenum showed some of this against the Kansas City Chiefs and the offensive line played better with a mobile Keenum when some pressure forced him out of the pocket. He put the ball into his receivers hands early and let them work on the field for big gains, and that was evident with passes to DeVier Posey, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. The only thing that matters with Keenum moving forward is his ability to be able to put the Texans in the win column as much as possible and make his teammates better. He had a good start to his NFL career but one game does not mean anything at this point. The games have to be played and there will be plenty more found out about Keenum on the national stage on Sunday Night.
Gary Kubiak Has To Keep Evolving
As much as people do not want to say that Kubiak has changed in 2013, they are not looking hard enough at what he has done this season. He has cut bait with two of the players who he was most "loyal" to in Kevin Walter and benching captain Matt Schaub, and throw in the fact he is starting a rookie wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and implemented the pistol scheme during training camp. Now, he is looking for the best opportunity to win with his unproven third string quarterback in Case Keenum. He also implemented play calls that helped Keenum against the Chiefs and allowed him to push the ball downfield. The changes have been coming in small portions, but if Kubiak used this two week period to really analyze his own short comings there could be some new looks coming offensively. The process could be a little late in his coaching tenure, but it is happening for the good of the team at this point.
You can follow Patrick on Twitter. He is the Editor of State of the Texans.