Each week Coltzilla will preview the upcoming game by speaking with fellow bloggers who write about the upcoming opponent. The Colts open the 2010 season in Houston against a tough division opponent, the Houston Texans. Joining Coltzilla this week is Dustyn Richardson from Houston Sports and More. *Coltzilla’s interview with Houston Sports and More
CZ: Is this Gary Kubiak’s last year as head coach if the Texans do not make the playoffs? Do fans support him?
HSM: There are a lot of mixed feelings in Houston about Kubiak. He is a local guy and people want to believe in him. When he took over after the 2-14 season, the Texans were in a complete mess. After two 8-8 seasons and last year’s 9-7 season it seems like the team has not only turned a corner but also Kubiak as a coach.
If the Texans finish 9-7 or even 10-6 and don’t make the playoffs I think Kubiak stays around. It would probably take a 7-9 record or worse for him to be fired.
CZ: How do Texans fans feel about Brian Cushing’s suspension? Do the charges against him change the way the fans feel about him individually?
HSM: Last season when Cushing came to Houston he immediately became a fan favorite. When news came down of the suspension it was very strange. I expected there to be some kind of anger or outrage but really there has been none of that. Most fans have come to the realization that he is gone for 4 games and that’s that. Unfortunately for the Texans, those 4 games are home to the Colts, at Washington, home to the Cowboys, and at the Raiders.
CZ: Do Texans fans believe that Matt Schaub is the real deal or was his performance last year an apparition?
HSM: Ever since Schaub came to Houston he has never really gotten the respect from fans. A lot of people here were very upset when the team passed on the hometown hero Vince Young in the draft. I even heard people last preseason calling for Rex Grossman to start. After last season I think he has finally gotten some respect. He finally played a full season without injury and fans are a little hesitant until they can see him not only put up the numbers again but also stay healthy.
CZ: How do Texans fans compare their team to the Colts? Do the fans see a lot of similarities or more differences? Do Texans fans want their team to be more or less like the Colts?
HSM: I think most Texans fans have a lot of respect for the Colts. Houston is an interesting town because we seem to get a lot of fair-weather fans, probably like most towns. This makes for a lot of “Colts fans” coming to Reliant Stadium for the games. I think that has given the Colts a bad rap.
I think for a long time Texans fans saw the Colts as something we would never have, a dynamic offense with a great leader and a solid defense that can keep you in games. Over the past year or so I think fans are starting to look at the Colts as something we can be. If we can get our defense to play well enough, or offense can carry us to great things.
CZ: Do Texans fans realize that a lot of Colts fans think their team is really good and (maybe secretly) pull for them when they are not playing the Colts?
HSM: I think the fans here in Houston don’t really see admiration from other fan bases around the league. We have always wanted respect from the national media and football people around the league and most fans equate that to Monday Night Football appearances or features on SportsCenter. Fans here are very guarded but passionate. If we took the time to see things like a respect from the Colts fan base, the fans would be humbled.
CZ: How many years do Texans fans think it will be before they beat the Colts twice in the same season?
HSM: If you ask most fans, the answer to that question would be last season. The teams played two competitive games and we thought we could have and maybe should have won them both. Most fans though see the Titans and Jaguars games as the must wins in the division and if we could just sneak one from the Colts, it would be a success. I’m not sure beating the Colts twice in the same season has ever really been a thought in most fans minds when the seasons have begun.
CZ: How have fans reacted to Steve Slaton’s downfall? He was incredible one year and is almost an afterthought now. How has that affected the fans?
HSM: Running back has always been a major issue for the Texans as a franchise. When Slaton arrived there was some hope. When Slaton had a great rookie season there was a sense among fans of, “Finally, we have our running back.” Last season turned Slaton into almost a non factor in fans’ eyes. When Arian Foster came on late in the season and showed he could be a good back in this offense, fans almost forgot Slaton was even on the roster.
Coming into this year most fans knew Foster would be the starter and rookie Ben Tate would be the change of pace. When Tate went down with an ankle injury it was almost like, “oh Slaton is still on the roster, he could be a nice 3rd down back.” Whatever Slaton can produce this season will be almost like a bonus to most fans.
CZ: If Anthony Gonzalez was on the Texans, would he be the fourth receiver?
HSM: Some people in Houston will tell you the Texans have the best WR corps in the league. I’m not one of those people. Andre Johnson is a clear cut number 1 and Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter are good receivers playing either opposite of Johnson or in the slot.
Gonzalez would have to battle out David Anderson for the fourth receiver spot. The Texans and the fans love Anderson. He is very much a character off the field and on the field he seems to make big catches for first downs and the occasional score. Ultimately I think Gonzalez would get the nod with his pure WR skills winning out in the end, but he would have to stay healthy.
CZ: If the Texans could have any player from the Colts not named Manning, who would it be and why?
HSM: Most fans would probably say a healthy Bob Sanders. We have never had a safety in the franchise history that has been a real playmaker. Bernard Pollard came over from the Chiefs before the start of last season and Eugene Wilson is also at safety but Sanders would be an immediate upgrade and could probably make this defense a top 10 unit.
CZ: There has been a great deal of hype coming out of Houston about the Week One matchup with the Colts, some even referring to hit as the Texans “Super Bowl.” How do you predict the team will react if it loses the game? How will it impact the outlook for Texans playoff hopes? If they win, do you predict an AFC South championship?
HSM: That’s a great question because there really has been so much hype around this game. A lot of fans think that if we lose Week 1 to the Colts then our playoff chances go down the drain. Those same fans will tell you that if we beat the Colts Week 1 then we are Super Bowl bound. Obviously the real answer is somewhere in the middle.
The Texans have always been a second half team as far as the season goes. If they finally want to make the playoffs it is crucial they start off strong. Losing Cushing for the first 4 games will put a little damper on that but there are high hopes for Week 1. I think if we do win in Week 1 it will definitely put us in a good position to win the division but we will still have to play well against Tennessee and Jacksonville, not always easy games in the past for us.
CZ: Game prediction?
HSM: My heart says Texans win 27-23. It’s going to take a great effort on defense and Mario Williams and Demeco Ryans will have to put pressure o Manning. The Texans can score with anyone but they can’t get into a shoot-out with the Colts and expect to win. Either way I think it will be a great game and one of the best in Week 1.
Coltzilla would like to thank Dustyn for helping preview the Texans game this week. Check out Dustyn’s website Houston Sports and More or follow him on Twitter @HouSports.