1. Since the Texans came into the league, the national media has made their offensive line a focus. It seems like after all this time, they have finally found a nice mix. How do you feel about the line going into 2009?
BRB: I feel very good about the Texans' offensive line. While it seems very unlikely that all five starters will play 16 games again in 2009, Alex Gibbs' zone-blocking system has worked wonders for the running game, and pass protection has been decent to good. Depth, especially at tackle, could loom as an issue, though Duane Brown and Eric Winston are entrenched on the left and ride side, respectively. Overall, I'd say that the Texans can at least be labeled as average to slightly above-average on the OL.
The weak link, particularly against 3-4 defenses, is at center, where Chris Myers can be pushed around by larger defensive tackles (though Myers did add weight in the offseason and by no means is a bad player). If Kris Jenkins does what Casey Hampton did against Myers in Week One last year, we're in trouble.
2. What are expectations on defense with a new coordinator in place?
BRB: The primary expectation is more aggression. Frank Bush's predecessor, Richard Smith, implemented a "read-and-react" brand of defense that far too often left the Texans a step behind the opposition. Although the scheme and most of the players haven't changed demonstrably, Bush has made clear that he's going to blitz far more than the once every three games Richard Smith did. Look for much more pressure from the linebacking corps. DeMeco Ryans in particular looked to be much more of an attacker in preseason than he ever did under Smith's tutelage.
3. The Texans are a trendy sleeper pick this year. Do you think the buzz around them is justified?
BRB: Eh, I don't know. Houston was a trendy sleeper pick last year, and fat lot of good it did us then. I will say, however, that the schedule appears to line up much better this year than it did last year. The key is going to be divisional play. If the Texans can post a record of .500 or better in the AFC South, they could make some real noise.
4. Houston's top corner, Dunta Robinson, sat out camp and preseason in a contract dispute. He returned to the team this week. What are you expecting from him this Sunday?
BRB: Kubiak has been cagey about how much D-Rob will play on Sunday. He supposedly worked out like a demon during his time away, but it remains to be seen whether that'll translate to NFL-ready quickly enough to make a difference in Week One. Dunta is the team's best defensive back, so I'm sure he'll see the field quite a bit if he can convince Kubes that he's ready to go despite having no training camp/preseason game reps and only a week of practice. In any event, I wouldn't count on him playing every snap as he would've if he had been there throughout camp.
5. A year ago on offense, the Texans were one of the most productive offenses in the league in terms of yards but not in points scored. What went wrong? How can they fix this?
BRB: Great question. Fortunately, there's a simple answer. The Texans were almost without peer moving the ball between the 20s. Once they hit the red zone, however, they were horrendous. Most glaringly, Schaub and Rosenfels did a very poor job holding onto the ball in the red zone. Fumbles and picks were far too frequent an occurrence. If Schaub (or, God forbid, Grossman and/or Orlovsky) take better care of the ball once the offense hits the 20, you should see a sizable spike in the team's point total.