At the team luncheon yesterday, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak had quite a few quotes that are being thrown around Twitter wildly. The most notable was when he talked of the team's expectations around the city and within the organization. Which led to the statement of, "It's time for somebody else to win the AFC South, and we believe we have the team that can do it."
Regardless of the fact that Tennessee won the division in 2008, I think we all know which team he is talking about. In the AFC South's eight years of existence, the Indianapolis Colts have won the division six times, including five years in a row between 2003 and 2007 and six of the last seven overall. It's a pretty safe bet that this is the team Coach Kubes was singling out.
Everyone knows that to win this division, you have to get past Peyton Manning to do it. A stat that I'm sure we are all sick of hearing is that Houston is 1 for 16 in opportunities against Peyton and the boys, with the only victory coming in a Christmas Eve miracle on a last second kick by Kris Brown in 2006. There have been many opportunities to finally get in the win column against Indy, but some kind of meltdown always seems to happen, whether it's a backup quarterback trying to usurp the starting role and getting way overzealous, or a missed field goal to give the team a shot in overtime, or even a second half meltdown that saw them squander a 20-7 lead by getting outscored 28-7 in the game's final two frames. Yeah, quite a vast history of pain and suffering in all things related to Peyton and the Colts. And it's only been eight years.
So while most Texans fans have the season opener at Reliant in their predictions going down as another loss, it made me ask myself a question. After the team was decimated in its opener against New York last season, the sky began to fall. Quickly. Much more quickly than in usual years. That comes with high expectations. But as we all saw, the team was given opportunity after opportunity to make the playoffs last year, regardless of losing the opener. So my question is if the Texans once again fall to the Colts in the season opener, is it really deemed a severe and devastating disappointment? Sure, you always want to win at home and within the division. And I'm not asking anyone to just be okay with a loss. I'm just saying will everyone have the attitude of "same old Texans" if they lose?
I guess an even better question would be what if they win? I don't think very many have considered that possibility yet. It comes with years of losing, letdowns and mediocrity, I guess. But with Peyton clearly quite frustrated with the league's new rule that places the umpire behind the running backs instead of on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps Houston can catch them off guard.
It really depends on which Texans team shows up on September 12th. The one that electrified Reliant Stadium this past weekend, or the one that stunk up the joint worse than a scared skunk over two weeks ago in New Orleans.
Is this the year the team finally climbs over the hump and is able to at least split with the Colts? They got close twice last year. They got close when Sage decided to try and learn lift versus drag and rotation. They even had some close calls in the Zoolander era (actually, he was the QB in their only win over Indy in team history). So it is possible.
If this team wants to really make a run at the AFC South as their coach says, it starts and ends with Indianapolis. Like Ric Flair always used to say, "If you want to be the man...you gotta beat the man."
It will take an inspired effort, but the Colts are beatable with the personnel Houston currently has. That leads me to this final quote from Kubiak yesterday.
"I know as a coach, we know as coaches, our players know – that the difference between winning and losing is so small. If you're not on, you can get beat any week. But if you're on, we can beat anybody. And it's my job to make sure that we're on."
Looking good in the opener would be quite refreshing for a change. Time to set the tone, fellas.