I’m not one to call a franchise “cursed”. There’s always a number a factors that cause football teams to continuously underachieve. There’s historically bad picks at the top of the draft that set teams back a few years, ever-present injuries that plague every franchise no matter the history, Gary Kubiak, and a penchant for mind-numbingly bone-headed game-losing plays, among others.
The Houston Texans aren’t cursed. They’ve been blessed with one of the greatest wide receivers of his era in Andre Johnson. Mario Williams has bounced back from an extremely disappointing rookie season to become one of the most valuable defensive players in the league, along with linebacker Brian Cushing. And the Texans, despite never having a realistic shot at the playoffs in their history before this season, their tenth in the NFL, were ranked by Forbes.com as the sixth-most valuable franchise in the league.
The news today from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Schaub will miss the remainder of the season with a severe foot injury almost makes me question my theory about the Texans. Because while the Texans have found their footing as an NFL franchise and finally taken advantage of some major breaks (Johnson becoming an all-timer, Mario becoming a superstar, Arian Foster being plucked out of nowhere to become a top five back, Peyton Manning going down and taking the Colts with him), Schaub going down provides another example of the Texans’ bad luck rearing its ugly head at the most inopportune time.
Schaub’s season-ending injury comes as the Texans sit at 7-3 after dismantling every piece of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road to find themselves at the top of the AFC (tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who the Texans beat at home in Week 4). 7-3 is easily the team’s best record after 10 games in their 10-year history, and it seemed that not even their ability to blow late-season games could keep them out of their first postseason appearance in January 2012.
And with luck (oh, the irony!), the Texans still might sniff the playoffs. They’ve gone 4-1 since losing Andre Johnson and Mario Williams in Week 5 against Oakland. Arian Foster has gone over 110+ yards from scrimmage in each of his last four games. And Houston, long known for choking up second half leads, have won their last four contests by double-digits.
But losing Schaub will hurt. Gary Kubiak will now turn one of the league’s most prolific offenses to the incomparable Matt Leinart, also known as the number one reason Matt Barkley will get so overly criticized coming out of Southern California. Leinart didn’t take a snap in 2010, and has only gotten in this year in blowouts against B-squads. Consider the fact that there’s never really been a reason to fully believe in Matt Schaub, and now look who’s coming in to step in his shoes.
The Houston Texans will need Foster and backup running back Ben Tate to carry the load more than ever, along with an improving defense. They’ll also need to find whatever bad luck corpses are buried under the parking lot at Reliant Stadium, because this is starting to get ridiculous.