Matt Schaub (Getty Images)
Most experts believe that 2009 could be a breakout year for the Texans, who finished at 8-8 the previous two seasons. The big “asterisk” involving Houston’s success many feel is the health of quarterback Matt Schaub, who has yet to complete a full 16-game season.
Although the thought of the Texans being a legitimate championship contender remain on Schaub’s right arm, the team appears to be poised to have their season not go completely down the toilet assuming that Schaub cannot stay healthy, due to their free agent signings of Dan Orlovsky and Rex Grossman.
Orlovsky is yet to win his first game as a starting quarterback in the NFL, but the Houston front office feels that he can be very good if forced into duty.
“I think Dan is going to be a much better quarterback because he is working with a guy that I have seen quarterback in coach (Gary) Kubiak,” Texans General Manager Rick Smith told reporters. “He coaches them in a way that he gets the best out of them. What I saw over the course of the OTAs was a guy who started to understand the offense a little bit better; he started to make better decisions and better reads and his athleticism started to show up.”
As an insurance policy to Orlovsky the Texans recently signed former Bears signal caller Rex Grossman. Grossman, a former first-round pick, has captained a team to the Super Bowl and is trying to resurrect his mostly inconsistent career in Houston.
“We’ve thrown the kitchen sink at him,” Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak said after the team’s final OTA practice last week. “But he is trying to get his career going again and in a lot of ways, it’s all on his plate. It’s all up to him, and we are going to do everything we can to help him along this next month to get him ready for camp. Since the day he arrived Friday, he’s been living in the office and he’s going to his part. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make up a lot of ground.”
Fox Sports.com recently ranked each team’s stable of quarterbacks in terms of quality of starter, and most importantly depth, and the Texans finished 13th in the league. The only team that was better in the AFC South was Indianapolis, who was eighth.
Here’s the blurb from the Fox Sports story—
Believe it or not, this is not a bad group in Houston. While this is a make-or-break season for Schaub, he has shown enough in two seasons as the Texans' starter to give them valid playoff hopes. His biggest issue has been staying healthy, as he missed five games in each of the past two seasons. But Houston may not have too big of a problem as they should have a decent battle for the No. 2 spot this summer, as ex-Lions starter Dan Orlovsky takes on former Bears QB Rex Grossman. While both have their warts, Orlovsky often gave the terrible Lions their best chance at winning in '08 and Grossman did lead the Bears to the Super Bowl once. It could be worse.
Houston hasn’t kept three quarterbacks on the roster in a few years, and although they have some potentially talented players on the roster, it’s still no guarantee that they will keep a third signal caller.
“We kept three (quarterbacks) when I first got to Denver,” Rick Smith told Houston Texans.com. “We took a look after about two or three years when I was in Denver and did a study to find out how much the third quarterback actually played. We were trying to steal an extra roster spot, and sure enough when you went back and looked, the third quarterback rarely played. So we took a chance and said, ‘We’ll steal an extra roster spot with another player and not worry about the third quarterback.’ Obviously, our history here over the last couple of years has not been that. So we are seriously contemplating keeping three. To have an opportunity to have a guy like Rex who started in the Super Bowl a few years ago, that’s a very valuable commodity to have as a third quarterback. If in fact we do that, he’s got a chance to be a good third for us."
The Texans would prefer that neither Dan Orlovsky nor Rex Grossman take any meaningful snaps in 2009, but if they do, all might not be lost.