This article is part of our Team Previews series.
By John Clemeno
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
Close observers of this franchise have seen it all before. The Texans must pick themselves up again, following a season of expectation that ended in failure. At one point, the Texans were 4-2 and in first place in the AFC South, before the team lost eight of nine games and finished at 6-10. It was a big punch to the gut after an encouraging 9-7 season in '09. Houston head coach Gary Kubiak, who has not taken the Texans to the playoffs in five years as head coach, has two more years on his contract extension, though it didn't look like he was going to survive 2010. His play-calling and decision-making were questioned after losses to the Colts, Chargers and Ravens. And the team had a habit of falling behind early in games, and losing games late. But owner Bob McNair likes Kubiak and stood by his man.
And there are things that Kubiak has done right. Like the offense, for instance. The Texans were ninth in the league with 390 points and have big producers at every skill position. Quarterback Matt Schaub, whom Kubiak targeted in his second season on the job, has emerged as a top passer, throwing for over 9,000 yards over the last two seasons. He's played in all 32 games in 2009 and 2010, a testament to the stability Houston enjoys on the offensive line, where tackles Eric Winston and Duane Brown, and center