By Dave Thomas
To say that this last month-plus has been taxing on the Houston Texans and their fans may be the understatement of the 2013 NFL season to date.
Six losses in a row, injuries to key members of the team, questions as to whether or not quarterback Matt Schaub will ever regain his starting job, and now the health and well-being of head coach Gary Kubiak are just some of the things that both players and fans of the Texans are dealing with.
In hosting the AFC South leading Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday evening, the Texans looked primed early on to finally get a win after five tough setbacks in a row. Leading 21-3 at one point, Houston (2-6) seemed as if it was on its way to a big victory against a quality opponent. Then, all systems literally went south on the team, including the health of their leader.
As most fans watching the game or seeing replays of the incident know by now, Kubiak was walking off the field at the intermission break when he bent over, then proceeded to go down.
While team officials were quick to stress that the former backup QB (won a pair of Super Bowls) to John Elway in Denver decades back had not suffered a heart attack and was conscious during the entire incident, his collapse remained a mystery. As of Monday, the team reported that Kubiak would be kept through Tuesday morning at a local hospital for more tests and observation.
With that incident likely weighing on their minds, the Texans saw their somewhat comfortable lead against the Colts at intermission crumble in the second half, resulting in a 27-24 loss.
So, where does the team go from here?
Trip to the Desert
While the playoffs seem to be a distant possibility at this point and time, there are still eight games left for this troubled team, starting this Sunday in Glendale, Arizona against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have been an up-and-down team to date this season, but they still pose a sizable challenge for a Houston squad just looking to hang its hat on a win and a little momentum going into the back stretch of the season.
Arizona enters Sunday’s contest with a mark of 4-4 (third place in the NFC West). While the Cardinals are certainly still alive in the NFC Wild Card race, they will need a number of things to fall into place (including continuing Houston’s misery) in order to position themselves for a January playoff spot.
To date, Arizona has been looking for more consistent quarterback play from veteran Carson Palmer.
Going into the meeting with Houston, Palmer has thrown for 1.913 yards and 10 TDs, but his 14 interceptions have definitely been a cause for concern in the desert. Throw in the fact that Palmer is not exactly going to be mistaken for RGIII or Michael Vick if he has to run with the ball, and you have some reason to worry if you’re an Arizona fan. When Palmer is on, however, he has the durable and reliable Larry Fitzgerald (470 yards receiving, 5 TDs) to throw to.
When it comes to defense, Arizona has been led to date by the likes of Karlos Dansby (71 total tackles), Patrick Peterson (three INTs) and the duo of Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett (four sacks each).
While the health of Kubiak remains Houston’s top concern right now, breaking this six-game slide come Sunday in Glendale would no doubt help cheer up their ailing coach.
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.