Just a week ago, the Texans were on cruise control. Winners of four in a row and ready to welcome back their best offensive player for the home stretch, they seemed poised not only to clinch their first postseason berth in franchise history, but perhaps host a game at Reliant Stadium. However, after overcoming the loss of WR Andre Johnson, OLB Mario Williams, and S Danieal Manning, among others, Houston will now face its greatest test: succeeding without QB Matt Schaub, reportedly out for the season with a Lisfranc injury.
On the surface, it might appear the loss of Schaub will be too much for head coach Gary Kubiak and his troops to survive. Schaub's replacement, former Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, has not attempted a regular-season pass since 2009, and he has made only one start in the past four seasons. But the way we hear it, Leinart finds himself in an ideal situation — surrounded by tremendous weapons and coaching.
Kubiak and QB coach Greg Knapp are masters at preparing their pupils. Kubiak, a huge fan of Leinart's, is known for putting his QBs in the best position possible by finding out what throws and plays they are the most comfortable making each week and tailoring the game plan to fit their comfort level. The same can be said for Knapp, who treats his backups just like starters in the event they are pressed into action. Both coaches have sparkling track records working with QBs.
Although Leinart's stint in Arizona did not end well, with plenty of questions centering on his focus and commitment, we hear he has rededicated himself since arriving in Houston. Daily team observers attest he has kept a very low profile, blending in well and putting in plenty of extra time with Schaub and the coaching staff to learn the playbook, which has earned the respect of his teammates.
Leinart is hardly fleet of foot, but he is slightly more mobile than Schaub and should do fine in the Texans' bootleg and rollout-heavy offense, which is similar to the one Leinart excelled in at USC. He will have the league's best backfield and arguably the top receiver in the game at his disposal; Leinart's No. 1 responsibility will be making sound decisions and protecting the football.
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