HOUSTON (AP) — There’s a simple reason why the Houston Texans are finally winning after five years of futility.
“We have better players,” cornerback Dunta Robinson said. “That’s got a lot to do with it.”
There’s certainly more to Houston’s 2-0 start than that, but Robinson hit on a key difference in this year’s Texans: They have more talent than ever before.
The Texans feel like they upgraded at quarterback with the addition of Matt Schaub and signed four-time Pro Bowler Ahman Green. Houston’s defense is more talented with rookie defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and linebacker Danny Clark.
The development of that group has been helped by the improvement of last year’s top overall pick Mario Williams and the continued strong play of 2006 Defensive Rookie of the Year DeMeco Ryans.
There’s also a new attitude around Houston that Robinson said comes from second year coach Gary Kubiak.
“Kubiak, he’s just so excited and it makes us excited to play and he believes in us,” said Robinson, a first-round draft pick in 2004. “His confidence is really high and he believes in us and it makes us go out there and be confident.”
Kubiak, the longtime Denver offensive coordinator, took over in Houston after the team posted a franchise-worst 2-14 record in 2005. Under his leadership, the Texans, who have never had a winning record, tripled their win total last season. They’ve won their last four games, dating back to last season.
He said it’s easy to change the attitude of a team when it has early success like his has this season.
Andre Johnson said he thinks the mind-set of the team began to change after last year’s 27-24 Christmas Eve win over the Colts, the first victory over Indianapolis in team history. He said the team had a newfound confidence after that game and has used that momentum to start strong this season.
“Guys expect more from each other,” Johnson said. “Guys demand more from each other. Guys want to win. So when you have all those things, guys don’t want to be in the same situation we were in the past. Guys want change. When you have that, guys are doing whatever they have to do to win games.”
Another catalyst for the upswing in Houston has been the leadership of Schaub, the former backup to Michael Vick who had started just two games before this season. He’s completing 72 percent of his passes and has already thrown for three touchdowns.
The Texans credited their ability to rebound from a 14-point deficit for the win over Carolina to Schaub’s poise.
“He’s been great,” Johnson said. “We were down 14-0 and we didn’t panic and I think a lot of that comes from our quarterback. He’s our leader and to see him out there not panicking … and it rubs off on everybody else.”
The Texans have also been aided by the improvement of the offensive line where the only change this season is moving Steve McKinney to center in place of Mike Flanagan. The group was named the team’s offensive players of the week for not allowing a sack against Carolina.