By Dave Thomas
What started as thoughts that the 2013 season might deliver Houston and its fans a trip deep into the AFC playoffs and maybe even the Super Bowl has come crashing down hard.
Losing their fifth straight game on Sunday (a narrow 17-16 defeat in Kansas City to the unbeaten Chiefs), the Texans staggered home at 2-5, sitting only above winless Jacksonville (0-7) in the AFC South. In what is probably the best prescription any doctor could have ordered, the Texans are in their bye week.
If you take a moment to sit down and analyze where this season has gone markedly wrong for the Texans, you could point to several factors, most notably injuries and confidence at the quarterback position.
Foster Injures Hamstring in Loss to Chiefs
For starters, injuries happen to just about each and every team during a 16-game season. While some teams are able to get around such issues, others are dealt a serious blow.
Going into their game with Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium this past weekend, the Texans were nearly a touchdown underdog. Despite those odds, Houston was right there down the stretch with the last remaining unbeaten team.
Earlier in the game, however, the injury bug got the best of starting running back Arian Foster, who had to leave in the first quarter with a hamstring injury (did not return). That loss meant that Ben Tate (15 carries for 50 yards) was essentially handed the running back duties the remainder of the game. While Tate is a decent running back, he doesn’t strike the fear in the eyes of most defensive opponents that Foster does.
The loss of Foster put even more pressure on third-string QB Case Keenum (15-of-25, 271 yards, one TD), starting in place of the injured Schaub (ankle injury) and the benched T.J. Yates. While Keenum had a pretty good day given the circumstances, the Texans still left losers.
Where Do Texans Go From Here?
For the Texans, injuries this year have combined with a lack of confidence in the play of starting QB Matt Schaub and some of the coaching decisions from longtime head coach Gary Kubiak. As a result, both men find themselves in the hot seat in the eyes of most Texan fans.
Even though Houston may not have been considered one of the elite teams coming into the season, it certainly was getting looked at as a team that could possibly make a deep run in the playoffs. With Schaub’s inability to take his game to the next level, not to mention the lack of support he’s getting from many of the fans, the Texans find themselves now just looking to try and make it to a .500 record.
While this season is far from over, many in Houston are likely already thinking about next season.
One of the big questions around Texan territory is likely: will Schaub and/or Kubiak even be back in the saddle come 2014?
For more Houston Texans news and updates, visit Houston Texans Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.