Gary Kubiak

There will always be moments when someone’s ideal view of sports will be shattered.

For many, sports are a shelter from reality.

You will see that type of person flipping through a Sports Illustrated magazine in a waiting room of a doctor’s office, ignoring the blaring screen that airs the daily news.

In sports, there is consistency. There are winners and losers; rules and regulations; trade deadlines and contracts. Everything is accounted for in a closed and structured organization.

But as long as sports involve the lives of breathing beings, life will always have a way of bursting through that structure and shelter.


The shelter of sports stood strong in the first half of the NFL’s Sunday night football game between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts.

In just his second career start, quarterback Case Keenum threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.

In an offense that has struggled for the majority of the season, the Houston hometown kid was firing deep touchdown passes as if he was Brett Favre.

On the other end of the touchdowns, tenured receiver Andre Johnson was having the best half of his career with 190 yards on seven catches and three touchdowns.

The teamwork was great — new generation to old generation, tying a struggling organization together one throw at a time. You could almost start writing the screenplay.

But then, as the Texans ran into the locker room up 21-3 at halftime, head coach Gary Kubiak dropped to his knees.

An ambulance took Kubiak to the hospital for what would later be diagnosed as a transient ischemic attack, or what is commonly called a mini-stroke.

At that point, the score did not matter. Kubiak was in a bout in the only game that matters.


For the past few weeks, I have been writing articles about the struggles Kubiak has faced on the playing field: his offenses, his team and the direction of an organization in a losing streak.

Sitting at the keyboard, it seems silly to think or write about how the Texans will fare in the eight remaining games of the regular schedule.

At this point, the only future in the franchise that ultimately matters is Kubiak’s.

The team could lose eight straight games and the world would still be spinning.

But transient ischemic attack is a symptom as well as an attack.

It can be a “warning stroke,” according to the American Stroke Association, and about one-third of people who experience the attack go on to have a stroke within a year.

Kubiak was immediately helped to the hospital after the attack, where he received treatment and tried to figure out why the attack occurred and learn how to prevent a stroke from occurring. The attack is a rare occurrence for people Kubiak’s age, 52.

Whatever the cause, whether it was a chance occurrence or, possibly, stress from the season, Kubiak will not be coaching for an indefinite period of time.

Kubiak was released from the hospital Tuesday, and there is no need for him to return immediately to coaching. 

At 2-6, a playoff run is highly unlikely for his team, and it will only add more stress if more losses start to roll by.

At this point, his job security should not be questioned, his offensive strategies critiqued, nor his future be predicted.

Perhaps his Texan team will play inspired throughout the rest of the season, but, ultimately, his players just want him to recover.

“If I had to tell him, I’d tell him to worry about his health first,” Andre Johnson said on Monday. “I think that’s the biggest thing. This is just a game. Your health is more important … this football game is going to be here. It’s not going anywhere.”

No one likes losing streaks.

Not in sports. Not in school. Not in life. Nowhere.

When you are in a losing streak in life or school, you can start over, face the adversity and rebound. You have to. No one else can do it for you. Your life is irreplaceable.

In sports, it is not this way. Everyone is replaceable.

Sports is a game, and the game is to win. Teams are entrusted to head coaches who are hired to put together a winning team. If the team cannot win, chances are, the coach will be replaced.

Some teams lose intermittently. To a juggernaut there, a close one here. At times, those are acceptable. In a game, there can only be one winner and one loser. Losses happen.

But when losses begin to happen in streaks, there’s a problem.

In the National Football League, when losing streaks get lengthy, the problem is generally traced back to the head coach.

The Houston Texans are facing the possibility of losing their sixth-straight game this weekend as Andrew Luck and a hot Colts team head to town.

The last time Houston lost six-straight games, former head coach Dom Capers was fired at the end of the 2005 season.

Six-straight losses is not a streak many tenured NFL head coaches survive. 

Those that have survived to coach again the following season usually were in their first or second season at the helm.

There are 11 current head coaches in the NFL whose teams lost six-straight games at some point in their careers.

Current NFL coaches with six or more straight losses in their career:

•    Cincinnati: Marvin Lewis, 10 (2010) - current

•    Denver: John Fox, 7 (2010) - contract unrenewed (Carolina)

•    Detroit: Jim Schwartz, 8 (2012) - current

•    Jacksonville: Gus Bradley, 7 (2013) - first year

•    Kansas City: Andy Reid, 8 (2012) - fired (Philadelphia)

•    Minnesota: Leslie Frazier, 6 (2011) - second year

•    New York: Tom Coughlin, 7 (1995) - Inaugural season (Jax), 8 (2004) - first year at NYG

•    Oakland: Dennis Allen, 6 (2012) - first year

•    St. Louis: Jeff Fisher, 6 (2010) - mutually agreed to part (Tenn.)

•    Tampa Bay: Greg Schiano, 7 (2013) - second year 

•    Washington: Mike Shanahan, 6 (2011) - second year        

Six of the coaches were in their first or second season and survived to coach the following season.

Three were fired or released and two tenured coaches survived.

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is currently in his eighth season. A loss this week would place him alongside these coaches.

And his chances for survival aren’t good, even if Lewis and Schwartz survived. 

Lewis basically restarted with the Bengals as if he had been fired in 2010. He hired a new offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden, and started a new quarterback in Andy Dalton. Cincinnati would have two consecutive playoff berths the following seasons.

Jim Schwartz brought Detroit its first playoff berth since 1999. You think Houston has it bad? Try being a Lions fan who still keeps VHS recordings of Barry Sanders on top of his TV stand to plug in when the game gets out of hand.

While we’re talking about first playoff berths, look at Brad Childress who was fired mid-season in 2010 after taking Minnesota to two straight playoff apperances.

Some would argue that Kubiak is an offensive genius, but not exactly. 

The Houston offense has racked up a lot of yardage in Kubiak’s time, 361 yards per game over the last eight seasons. From 2008-2010, the Texans finished in the top 5 in yards per game. Matt Schaub was the NFL passing yards leader in 2009, and made two Pro Bowls in 2009 and 2012.

But Kubiak’s offenses in Houston have never been in the top five in points per game. Houston is New Orleans without all the points. If you want to talk offensive geniuses, look at Sean Payton of New Orleans.

His Saints offenses have never been outside the top six in yards per game since he arrived in 2006. Six times, the Saints were in the top five in points per game, and finished first in yards and points per game in 2008 and 2009.

In ’09, the Saints won the Super Bowl.

So who’s the genius? Some would argue Kubiak has only had two losing seasons in his tenure, but people get fired for less.

Former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith was fired after the 2012 season as a result of a 10-6 season. Smith brought Chicago to its first Super Bowl since 1985, and only had three losing seasons in nine years.

If the Texans can pull one off against Indianapolis, Kubiak’s odds increase.

Of the current coaches in the NFL, only one has been fired in their career after losing five straight games or less: Pete Carroll, who was fired after his first season as head coach of the New York Jets in 1994.

Right now, Kubiak is taking a Lewis approach by starting a new quarterback in Case Keenum.

Keenum will have to be Kubiak’s savior.

With odds like these, Kubiak can’t afford this losing streak.

If you had walked up to Matt Schaub 10 years ago — while he was still warming Michael Vick’s seat in Atlanta — and told him that in a decade he would be a record-setting quarterback, a smile might have eclipsed his normally impassive face.

But smiles were absent on the Texans' sideline after the starting quarterback threw a pick-six on his first pass against San Francisco on Sunday night, immortalizing him as the only NFL quarterback with four pick-sixes in four consecutive games in league history. 

As the coup against Schaub was assembled by the Houston fan base and media, head coach Gary Kubiak said in a press conference Monday that he will not give up on his quarterback yet.

“You watch the struggle and you just want to be a part of the solution,” Kubiak said. “You want to be a part of helping him work his way through that. The only way I know how to do that is to play your way through that stuff.”

Schaub has played his way through a lot in his seven-year career with the Texans, missing the franchise’s inaugural playoff game with a Lisfranc injury, then returning the next year and throwing a costly interception in a 41-28 loss to New England in the playoffs.

Some of Schaub’s best moments have come at the beginning of seasons. In 2012, Schaub put up 1162 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions through the first five games. In 2011, he put up 1377 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.

Schaub has thrown for more interceptions this season than in both of those years combined. 

His numbers are bad, but the competition has improved.

Only three teams from the Texans’ early slate of games in 2011 or 2012 made the playoffs. It is likely three from the current slate will make the postseason.

And before Texans tailgaters start throwing Schaub posters on the barbecue pyre, they should realize the replacements are not going to make any dramatic improvements:

- T.J. Yates and local favorite Case Keenum would be starting next week if Kubiak had any indication they would give the team a better chance at winning.

- The best free agents currently in the market are Matt Flynn, who has been beaten out for the starting job twice this season on two separate teams, and David Carr. Texans fans would love that.

- Any trade for a suitable quarterback would take away talent in other aspects of the team, leaving it shorthanded at other positions.

Kubiak is right.

The only immediate way out of the Schaublem is to let Schaub play his way out of it.

With a St. Louis defense that has given up 256 passing yards per game this season, and more importantly, forced three interceptions all year, Schaub might just get the therapeutic game he needs.

Houston Texans’ Andre Johnson appears on the field before a game against the Oakland Raiders in Houston. Johnson hasn’t played since Oct. 2 after a minor procedure on his right hamstring. The Texans haven’t ruled him out for this week against the Browns.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

HOUSTON — Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak hasn’t ruled out wide receiver Andre Johnson for Sunday’s game against Cleveland after the star wide receiver missed his second straight day of practice Thursday.

Kubiak said Johnson, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, was feeling better but the Texans didn’t feel he was ready to practice. The receiver went through an intense workout Monday that left him sore and caused him to miss the practices. Kubiak expects Johnson to return to practice on Friday.

“I’m not scared to play Andre if he doesn’t practice,” Kubiak said. “He knows what’s going on. This is strictly about his health and how he’s feeling.”

Johnson was injured Oct. 2 against Pittsburgh and had a minor procedure to repair the right hamstring injury early the next week. He has missed four straight games and the Texans dropped the first two without him before winning their last two.

With Johnson out, the Texans have just four healthy receivers on their roster. Jacoby Jones has been starting opposite Kevin Walter while Johnson recovers, and the Texans also have Derrick Mason and Bryant Johnson.

Walter led the group with five receptions for 70 yards in Sunday’s win over Jacksonville, which improved the Texans to 5-3 and 3-0 in the AFC South. Tight end Owen Daniels also pitched in, snagging four passes for 60 yards.

Kubiak has been impressed with their work while Johnson sits on the bench.

“Andre is our big gun. He’s a great player, a tremendous player and when you lose a guy like that for four games in a season it’s very tough,” Kubiak said. “It’s tough on the quarterback, tough on the group, tough on the receivers. I think they’ve all kind of responded in their own way. They’ve all made plays and it’s been a grind for them.”

Running back Arian Foster had just one reception for 12 yards against Jacksonville, but his 299 yards receiving in the last four games have led the team with Johnson out.

Published on November 4, 2011 as: Johnson misses yet another practice

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans have excelled in special teams in their first two games, and coach Gary Kubiak says that’s a product of finally having the right people in place.

Jacoby Jones returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in the opener against Indianapolis, and offseason acquisition Danieal Manning had a 46-yard kickoff return against the Colts and a 43-yarder in Houston’s 23-13 win at Miami on Sunday.

Houston (2-0) ranks third in punt return average (25.4 yards) and second in kickoff return average (41 yards per game) heading into Sunday’s game at New Orleans (1-1). Last year, Houston ranked 27th in kickoff return average (19.8 yards) and 29th in punt return average (6.7 yards).

Injuries played a role in last season’s struggles, but Kubiak said the move to the 3-4 defense has also created more players equipped to block and defend kicks for special teams coordinator Joe Marciano .

“The way our team is built, we have more speed, a lot of linebackers,” Kubiak said. “And then we’ve got two dang good returners. So I just think Joe’s got a better group to work with and hopefully, we stay healthy. Last year, we were pretty beat up in that area, so off to a good start.”

Rookies Brooks Reed and Bryan Braman have joined the unit, and the team released special-teamers Xavier Adibi and Stanford Keglar.

“We’ve got two good returners, and we’ve kept the right guys to block for them,” Marciano said. “We let some veteran players go, some guys who’ve been around here. Hard decisions to make, but we wanted the younger guys. We’ve got the right chemistry, and we’ve got the right personalities.”

While Houston has shuffled some of its personnel in the return game, the team made it an offseason priority to re-sign Jones. Only Chicago’s Devin Hester has more punt return yardage since 2007, and Jones has four touchdowns in that span.

Jones thinks he’ll see more opportunities this year, with more continuity in front of him.

“Our chemistry is rolling right now,” he said. “It starts off in training camp, in the heat of the summer, getting a feel for each other, getting a feel for the way I run, the way Manning runs. And those guys, they want to block. They work their butts off to make the block, and then they’re running up-field with me. That’s the great thing about it.”

The Texans signed Manning as a free agent, landing not only a starting safety, but also one of the game’s elite kickoff return men. Manning leads the NFL in kickoff return average since 2006 (27.3 yards) and one of his first directives early in training camp was instilling confidence in Houston’s return unit.

“I told the guys, ‘I believe in you, no matter what anybody else says,’” Manning said. “They took a lot of slack [last year]. But I said, ‘We’re going to make something happen. We’ve got a good team, man. And you guys can play. It’s just a matter of believing.’ I’m big on belief.”

Manning and Jones have set a goal of leading the league in return yardage this year.

“It’s the hidden yards that nobody ever accounts for,” Manning said. “It always comes back around.”

Houston’s kickers have also done their job in the first two games.

Neil Rackers is 5 for 5 on field goal attempts. Rookie punter Brett Hartmann booted a team-record 69-yarder in Miami, and eight of his 12 kickoffs have been touchbacks.

The Texans decided to keep Hartmann and cut veteran Brad Maynard because Hartmann showed a stronger leg in training camp. Marciano said Hartmann is still raw, but showed his potential in Miami, averaging 48 yards on six punts.

Adrian Foster (23) runs the ball during Saturday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. Although the Texans would later win the game, Foster would hurt his hamstring. (Marcio Jose Sanchez | The Associated Press)

Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak is optimistic Arian Foster will be ready for the regular-season opener after the star running back re-aggravated a hamstring injury in Saturday’s preseason game in San Francisco.

Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2010, left the field in the first quarter of Houston’s 30-7 victory, favoring the left hamstring that he strained early in training camp.

Foster sat out Houston’s preseason opener, then rushed five times for 47 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans’ 27-14 win over New Orleans on Aug. 20. He was hurt on his eighth carry against the 49ers.

“Looks like we’re dealing with the same thing we were dealing with at the start of camp,” Kubiak said Sunday. “Hopefully, we can get him back on the rehab train, and get him ready for opening day. He’ll be day-to-day.”

Kubiak said head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan offered a “very positive” outlook for Foster’s recovery, though Kubiak stopped short of saying Foster would definitely be healed in time for the Sept. 11 opener against Indianapolis.

“Until he hops back out there, there’s a concern,” Kubiak said. “But it sounds like we’re heading in the right direction.”


Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak is optimistic Arian Foster will be ready for the regular-season opener after the star running back re-aggravated a hamstring injury in Saturday’s preseason game in San Francisco.

Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2010, left the field in the first quarter of Houston’s 30-7 victory, favoring the left hamstring that he strained early in training camp.

Foster sat out Houston’s preseason opener, then rushed five times for 47 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans’ 27-14 win over New Orleans on Aug. 20. He was hurt on his eighth carry against the 49ers.

“Looks like we’re dealing with the same thing we were dealing with at the start of camp,” Kubiak said Sunday.

“Hopefully, we can get him back on the rehab train, and get him ready for opening day. He’ll be day-to-day.”

Kubiak said head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan offered a “very positive” outlook for Foster’s recovery, though Kubiak stopped short of saying Foster would definitely be healed in time for the Sept. 11 opener against Indianapolis.

“Until he hops back out there, there’s a concern,” Kubiak said. “But it sounds like we’re heading in the right direction.”

Houston Texans running back Ben Tate carries the ball during an NFL football training camp practice Friday in Houston.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

HOUSTON — Ben Tate never got a rookie season.

A second-round pick in the 2010 draft, the former Auburn running back broke his right ankle in the Texans’ first preseason game and was carted off the field. He was placed on injured reserve, underwent surgery and watched his first year in the NFL from the sideline.

The 5-foot-11, 219-pound Tate came into this year’s training camp eager to show the Texans what he could do, but he’s hindered by an injury again. He left Tuesday’s practice with tightness in his hamstring, and he and the coaches are left to wonder how he’ll make up the lost time.

“It’s more annoying than anything,” Tate said after Tuesday’s afternoon walk-through. “I need reps. It’s bugging the hell out of me.”

Adding to Tate’s angst is the stacked competition behind 2010 rushing champion Arian Foster. Steve Slaton is looking for a bounceback season, Derrick Ward is trying to follow up a productive 2010 and former Texas star Chris Ogbonnaya has impressed coach Gary Kubiak in early practices.

“It’s frustrating, when you’ve been working so hard in the offseason to get ready for this, and you have a hamstring injury that’s just nagging right now,” Tate said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. The only thing I can do is keep going, and when I do get healthy, come back and show I haven’t missed a beat.”

But Kubiak said Tate is losing ground on the other backs.

“He’s missed a lot of time,” Kubiak said. “He came out [Tuesday] and said his hamstring is sore again, so we pulled him out. He’s missing a lot of work since he’s been out here, so we’re all just waiting on him to get back out here and get going. Those other guys are working their tails off and had another good practice.”

Tate starred at Snow Hill High School in Maryland, setting the state single-season rushing record as a junior (2,886 yards). He averaged 13 yards per carry as a senior, helping his school reach the state championship game.

He was Auburn’s leading rusher as a senior in 2009 (1,362 yards), and the Texans were happy that he was available in the second round.

Last year, Tate was competing for time at running back with Foster, Slaton, Chris Henry and Jeremiah Johnson before snapping his ankle early in Houston’s preseason opener in Arizona. He tried to watch and learn all he could as he recovered from the surgery.

“We wanted him to watch what was going on, how guys prepared for the games,” running backs coach Chick Harris said. “Those are things you sometimes don’t get unless you’re into it.”

But Harris said nothing beats actual practice, and he’s as concerned as Kubiak about how many snaps Tate is sitting out.

“He’s snake-bit,” Harris said. “You just hope that he can work his way out of it. I can understand injuries, they happen. But the guys who can stay on the field, you get more looks at them. He’s got great potential. But we’ve just got to keep him on the field. Stay on the field, that’s when you get your reps. Then you’re ready.”

Tate dismissed the injuries as “just part of football.” He said the ankle held up fine through the first week of practice, and he said the hamstring issue is minor.

But he also realizes the urgency of returning as soon as he can.

“It’s tough, because you do want to be out here with your teammates, you do want to be working hard,” Tate said. “For missing so much time last year, this is stuff that I don’t take for granted anymore, practicing.”

Houston plays its preseason opener against the New York Jets on Monday, and Tate hopes Kubiak gives him a look.

“My No. 1 thing is being able to show what I can do in these preseason games,” Tate said. “If I can get healthy and be healthy for those, that’s all that’s going to matter. I’m missing reps. But as long as I come back, and I know what’s going on, then you’ve got to get better.”

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, number 80, holds his left hand after an injury during an NFL football training camp practice Tuesday in Houston. Johnson had to leave practice to be treated. Head coach Gary Kubiak said Johnson dislocated a finger. (Photo by David J. Phillip, AP)

HOUSTON — Houston Texans All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson will miss “a day or two” of practice after dislocating his left index finger in a morning workout.

Coach Gary Kubiak said Johnson will be OK.

“I think we got lucky,” Kubiak said.

Johnson wore a bandage on his finger as he watched the Tuesday afternoon walk-through from the sideline.

Johnson was running a slant route in an individual drill and leaped to catch a pass, with rookie cornerback Roc Carmichael defending. Johnson couldn’t make the catch and came down shaking his left hand. He took off his glove, his finger was bleeding and he walked to the sideline, where a trainer examined him.

“As soon as I felt it pop, I felt it out of place and I popped it right back in,” Johnson said. “I really wasn’t in a lot of pain, or anything like that. It was just more concern about the bleeding and stuff.”

Johnson left the field on a cart and went to the hospital. He was back at Reliant Stadium by 1 p.m., eating lunch in the cafeteria with his teammates.

“I wasn’t scared,” Johnson said. “It’s just a dislocated finger. I’ve had worse. I don’t think I’ll be worried about a finger keeping me from missing anything.”

The 6-foot-3, 223-pound Johnson had 86 catches for 1,216 yards last season, ranking sixth in both categories. He played most of 2010 with a sprained right ankle and underwent surgery in January — a much more serious injury than this one, he said.

“It’s just a finger,” Johnson said. “I played with a bum ankle. I don’t think a finger is going to keep me out. I’m fine. I’m just letting it heal up, and I’ll be right back out there.”

Kubiak said he’ll wait for doctors to clear Johnson to return to work.

“When he’s ready to go, he’ll go,” Kubiak said. “But it’s an opportunity for these younger guys to take some reps.”

Linebacker Brian Cushing has sat out team drills for the first two days as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. Cushing had an ice wrap on his knee after Tuesday’s morning workout but participated in the afternoon walk-through.

“He’s a few days away,” Kubiak said of Cushing. “I’ll have to let you know from day to day. He’s the one guy we had who wasn’t quite ready to go on the field [on Monday]. We’re just trying to take our time to do that.”

Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith acknowledged on Tuesday that the team is talking to two free agents — defensive end Ty Warren and fullback Lawrence Vickers.[

The 6-5, 300-pound Warren, a former star at A&M, was cut by New England after playing for the Patriots from 2003-09. He spent last season on injured reserve with a hip injury. The 6-foot, 250-pound Vickers has played five seasons with Cleveland. Houston is looking to replace All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach, who helped Arian Foster lead the NFL in rushing in 2010.

Houston Texans first-round pick J.J. Watt gets introduced in front of the media on Friday.

The ultimatum hanging over Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak for next the football season — whenever that may be — is simple: Get the team into the playoffs or pack your bags and leave town. It came as no surprise that Kubiak used all but one of Houston’s draft picks to address last season’s league-worst pass defense — the wrench in the gear that kept the Texans from being elite.

None were more important than the Texans’ first-round pick out of Wisconsin, defensive end J.J. Watt (6’6”, 292). With an eye for hunting down quarterbacks, Watt will fit well into the five-technique end in new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ scheme. Even as a rookie starter, he will provide a much-needed pass-rushing presence for a team that ranked 23rd in total sacks. He led Wisconsin last season in tackles for losses, and alongside Mario Williams, the Texans should finally have that imposing front line of defenders that has eluded them for nine years.

The Texans also had a productive second round of the draft by trading up for two picks. Houston selected Arizona outside linebacker Brooks Reed and Miami cornerback Brandon Harris in hopes of addressing the team’s abysmal pass defense.

Reed was a potential first rounder that slipped into Houston’s hands in the second round, and team management could not have been happier. Reed brings speed to the Texan’s linebacking corps, and the coaches believe it will compliment the pass rush. His 10-yard split time at the combine was faster than Von Miller’s, the highly touted outside linebacker from Texas A&M.

“When you’re pressuring the quarterback, it starts with your get-off speeds,” said Texans linebackers coach Reggie Herring. “He’s got strength and speed, and he’s mature physically. He’s got a great work ethic, too. Not only is he an athlete, but he’s got all the intangibles.”

Though many analysts say Houston drafted rather well, there are some lingering questions for Kubiak’s club. The Texans skipped the opportunity to address its pass defense head-on by glazing over Nebraska corner Prince Amukamara. He was the cornerstone of a Nebraska secondary that was among the country’s best in 2010. Though they drafted Harris and fellow defensive backs Rashad Carmichael of Virginia Tech and Keo Shiloh of Idaho, the two aren’t expected to make an immediate impact the way Amukamara would have. Houston’s pass defense philosophy isn’t so obvious though.

“Our first two picks, that’s going to make us better,” said defensive backs coach Vance Joseph. “The better you are up front the better you’re going to be on the back end.”

Still, the Texans can’t forget how many games their defensive backs blew last season. Though Kareem Jackson and Glover Quin have matured, Houston will need to look for a veteran defensive back in free agency — which cannot occur until the NFL lockout ends — if their defensive transformation from mediocrity to mastery is to be complete.