Huge Questions Loom as Texans Face Must-Win vs. Undefeated Chiefs

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IOctober 19, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 13:  Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans scratches his head as he leaves the field after being defeated 38-13 by the St. Louis Rams at Reliant Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Texans, and especially quarterback Matt Schaub, have seen better days. They're in the middle of quite the downward spiral for a team many lauded as an AFC Super Bowl contender before the start of the 2013 season. 

The Texans are sitting at 2-4 after beginning the year 2-0, and this week, they'll travel to the raucous Arrowhead Stadium to face the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs—not exactly what the doctor ordered for a team struggling mightily to keep its head above water. 

Let's take a look at two huge question marks that loom as the Texans find themselves in a game that's about as "must-win" as it gets in Week 7. 

 

Quarterback Situation 

Matt Schaub has taken the overwhelming brunt of the criticism during his team's four-game losing streak. It's been ugly.

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 13:  Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans drops back to pass in the first half against the St. Louis Rams at Reliant Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Starting in Week 2's overtime win over the Tennessee Titans, the veteran quarterback threw a pick-six in four straight contests, putting him in the NFL record book for the wrong reason. 

In Week 6's embarrassing home defeat at the hands of the clearly flawed St. Louis Rams, Schaub injured his ankle and was forced to leave the game. According to ESPN.com and other media outlets, Texans fans cheered when he exited the field.

His replacement, T.J. Yates, threw two interceptions of his own, one of which was a 98-yard pick-six. 

Schaub's availability for the huge intraconference showdown with the Chiefs doesn't look good:

Matt Schaub didn't practice today. Yates and Keenum split reps with first team.

— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) October 16, 2013

I don't think Schaub will play against the Chiefs. He was getting treatment instead of N QB meetings this morning. I think Yates or Keenum.

— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) October 16, 2013

So, what do the Texans do next?

They turn to Case Keenum, the third-string quarterback and former University of Houston star:

Case Keenum will start the game Sunday. #Texans

— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) October 17, 2013

While the Texans are producing the 10th-most yards per drive in the league through six games, they're 28th in touchdowns per drive and 29th in points per drive. 

Keenum went undrafted in 2012 and has never thrown a pass as a professional. Therefore, he'll make his first start and toss his first pass in Kansas City against a stingy and sack-happy defense.

Not exactly an inviting way to begin an NFL career. 

Here's a look at the Chiefs' defensive numbers heading into Week 7's tilt with the Texans:

While Keenum was named the starter in hopes that he'd add a much-needed spark to the offense, there's a good chance it will simply delay the inevitable regarding the 32-year-old signal-caller he'll replace. In all likelihood, the youngster will have his fair share of struggles against Kansas City, meaning the Texans will be back to square one of their quarterback conundrum. 

May 21, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum (7) participates in the organized team activities at Methodist Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

What if Keenum plays decently well, though? Should he then supplant the former first-stringer on the depth chart? Remember, before Schaub went down against the Rams, he completed 16 of his 21 passes for 186 yards. 

The current quarterback situation is intriguing and, frankly, pretty unfortunate for the Texans, because it likely would have taken one more "bad" outing for Schaub to be benched by Kubiak. 

This is what the head coach said after naming Schaub the starter for Week 6's game against St. Louis:

Kubiak: Matt Schaub will start the game on Sunday. "Was a tough decision, real tough. But was the best decision going into this game."

— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) October 9, 2013

Now, Houston's in a predicament, because the ultimate decision regarding Schaub might have to be delayed for at least another week. 

 

Gary Kubiak's Future

After winning two straight division titles and playoff games in consecutive years, there's no way Gary Kubiak should feel as if his job as the Texans' head coach is in jeopardy, right? 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08:  Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans coaches against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Well, he probably shouldn't be worried, but if Houston continues its humiliating losing streak and red-zone inefficiency on offense, he'll be placed on the hot seat, whether it would be fair or not. It's unlikely that Kubiak will get the boot during the season, but remember, he's coaching a team many believed had the roster to contend for a Super Bowl title in 2013. 

Last year, the Texans were trounced in the two biggest games of the year against the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots by a combined score of 84-38. This year, they weren't able to hold off the Seattle Seahawks at home and were embarrassed by the 49ers in San Francisco a week later.

If the Texans fall significantly short of the Super Bowl, or fail the make the playoffs, Kubiak may be looking for a new job this offseason.

Houston's been in somewhat of a quarterback purgatory with Schaub, and Kubiak has backed his starting quarterback over the past handful of seasons as the team rose from mediocrity and became AFC South champions. 

The Texans need a win against the Chiefs, and Kubiak needs a "signature" victory in the worst way. Nothing gets a coach with previously great job security fired faster than missing the playoffs in a year in which almost everyone expected more than one postseason win.