[John McClain, Chron.com]
If you're like me, you've got a lot of questions about the team going into Gary Kubiak's fourth season as its coach. For instance, will they have their first winning record? Will it be good enough to make the playoffs for the first time? Will they play better on the road? Will they play better in the AFC South? Will they improve their red-zone problems on both sides of the ball?Local experts and pundits are already beating the playoff drum for this team and while there's plenty of evidence that makes this a possibility (the projected decline of the Colts and the Titans, the teams good play in the second half of last season) there's also plenty of reasons to question whether or not they can get over the hump. (Schaub's fragile frame, scoring in the red zone, can the defensive backfield shut anyone down)
Now, let's break down the team and start with the rookies: Will first-round pick Brian Cushing sign on time, and what kind of impact will he make on the front seven? Will second-round pick Connor Barwin contribute off the bench to the pass rush despite playing defensive end only one year in college?
Will third-round pick Antoine Caldwell make enough progress to compete for a starting job at some point this season at center or guard?
How fast will fourth-round pick Glover Quin and sixth-round pick Brice McCain develop in the absence of the team's best cornerback, Dunta Robinson? How much of a contribution will fourth-round pick Anthony Hill and fifth-round pick James Casey make as a blocker and receiver? Will Casey develop fast enough to earn playing time?
I'm looking forward to this NFL season for two reasons:
1. The Chron's coverage of the Texans is full of hilarious bi-polar writing. Both Justice and McClain are rapturous after wins and despondent (or, in the case of Justice, angry to a point that he loses his professionalism) after losses. I haven't gone through the Texans' schedule with a fine-toothed comb yet, but I'm guessing there will be opportunities for both. It makes for entertaining reading (and blogging)
2. The 49'ers have Mike Singletary back as Head Coach, this time for a full season. Now...if they can just find and offense to go with their improving, young defense they have a good chance at making a playoff run in the weak NFC West.
Until then, here's a great commercial from Versus hyping (in part) their upcoming College Football coverage that's sure to get you in the mood for sports in some manner. My house goes silent every time this comes on.