Time will only tell if Matt Leinart will be the answer to this nightmare that has hit the city of Houston and the Texans. Leinart seems to have all the tools physically and around him to continue the Texans winning ways. It may be hard to believe that the AFC South will not magically be open for the taking with the absence of Matt Schaub according to every Tennessee Titans media personality for the last 24 hours.
The Texans are still in great shape for their first ever AFC crown and Matt Leinart will be a big reason for it. Don't believe us here are 6 reasons why.
1. The Running Game- The Texans running game has been outstanding and is currently ranked third in the NFL with over 158 yards a game on the ground. The team has rushed the ball 357 times to lead the league, 67 more times than the team behind them. The Texans passing game has only attempted 292 passes which ranks them 22nd in the league in attempts. The running game makes the Texans go, and this is a run first offense and will not depend on Leinart's arm 40 times a game.
2. Gary Kubiak- The guru of coaching quarterbacks hand-picked Leinart in 2010 to become the 3rd string quarterback and the team put up some decent money to retain Leinart to be the backup in 2011. Kubiak has groomed Leinart for times like these, and Leinart himself has said how much he has learned from Kubiak in two season with the team. Kubiak understands his strengths and weaknesses and expect the offense to use these to their advantage. If anything teams will have to scheme differently with Leinart being a left handed quarterback, this will change-up tendencies for opposing defensive coordinators.
3. The #1 Defense in the NFL- The Texans have a recipe for success with a good running game and stout defense. The Texans defense has put the offense in great situations all season and there should be no changes on that front. It is apparent that the Texans defense is getting better week to week and they could provide a huge boost for the team in the critical time of the season.
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4. The Return of Andre Johnson- All signs pointed to that Johnson could have returned against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but precaution was taken not to chance it. Johnson himself said he has felt great and now this two-week rest period could be exactly what the Texans asked for to get Johnson to where he needs to be. His presence on the field will make defenses double team him and pull safeties out of the box, if not all Leinart has to do is play pitch and catch with Johnson and make opposing defenses realize that this can be the same offense.
5. Offensive Weapons- Consistency is the key and the Texans offense has been together as group nearly two years. The last full-time starter to join the group was offensive guard Wade Smith in 2010, other than that this offense knows the ins and outs of the offense. Plugging Leinart in with an experienced offensive unit could prove the difference in Leinart's success from here on out. With Owen Daniels, Arian Foster, Ben Tate, James Casey, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones and Andre Johnson at his disposal, Leinart has to manage the team just like Schaub has done these past few weeks. Not to throw the ball around the yard, but to makes solid passes to keep the defense honest and not stack the line.
6. The Second Chance- To say Leinart will not succeed is being narrow-minded, heck he hasn't even taken a snap for the Texans. It is usually a good thing if the backup hasn't taken a snap, but there are times like these when backup quarterback are called upon to make things happen.
Leinart was a 1st round pick in 2006 (10th overall) by the Arizona Cardinals and was expected to make things happen from day one. With coaches fired and new ones hired, Leinart was quick to be the scapegoat when he broke his collarbone in the 2007 season and made way for the immortal Kurt Warner. Quickly falling out of favor in Arizona, he has found a home in Houston and started a new beginning to prove his nay sayers wrong that have doubted his abilites since being drafted.
The Texans' offense is similar to what made him successful at USC an under center run oriented offense with play action passes. in Arizona the offense evolved into a spread it out passing attack that requried some quick reads. Coming out of USC that was not his forte, to throw the ball practically every down.There is a comfort zone for Leinart in the Houston offense and expectations are going to be big for him, but with a Heisman trophy and a National Championship in 2004 this might be the opportunity to get back to what made him successful before coming to the NFL, an offense that just needs a leader to manage the situations.
There would be no better time to silence critics and make the city of Houston's dream a reality, and who would have thought that Matt Leinart has the opprotunity to make this happen.