The "Monday Night Football" crew did a media conference call today. Here are the two pieces of it that pertained to the AFC South…
Q. Is this the Texans' year, and do you see them taking down the Colts finally?
JON GRUDEN: I guess I am one of the leaders of the Texas fan club this year. I'm a big believer in Houston. I think they've made great offseason acquisitions starting with Wade Phillips. I think he's going to bring them some stability and confidence on defense, where they need it. I like their draft, from their first rounder to their second rounder. I think they've bulked up their front seven DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing, Mario Williams come back from injury. And I think (Johnathan) Joseph and (Danieal) Manning are two veterans that are going to stabilize this young secondary. I know Houston's going to score, and I like the Texans to win the South. I think they have what it takes to go deep into the playoffs. This should be their year.
RON JAWORSKI: I've been on their bandwagon for a few years, Phil, and they've obviously let me down personally by not making the playoffs. I've felt offensively they've always had the weapons in place, and their Achilles heel has been their defense. I think, when you look at their defense now, what you're going to have is stability and experience in Wade Phillips.
When we were down there doing that first Monday night preseason game the second preseason game. Excuse me. They really have bought into Wade Phillips and his staff's style of coaching. So they trust him. They believe in him. They believe in the system. He brings a resume of success.
And now they have the talent. Jon touched upon some of the players, but the one thing they have now is a belief in the coach and the system they're going to deploy. This is a team that, when they get a lead and their offense puts points on the board, it will be very aggressive. I look for Mario Williams to have a big year and J.J. Watt to complement him on the other side.
Q. Ron, do you think they're the best team in the AFC South?
RON JAWORSKI: Yes, I do. I really do. Especially with the concerns in Indy with the quarterback instability with Peyton (Manning's) injury. I would say right now the Texans are the team to beat...
Ron, primarily for you, but if I'm not mistaken, you held the streak at quarterback for consecutive starts until Brett (Favre) blew past you and Peyton. What in general do you think the streak means to a player like Peyton? For both of you guys, if you were a betting man, does the streak continue September 11th in Houston?
RON JAWORSKI: I look back at my streak of 116 games, and quite honestly, you know, when I broke my leg and that streak was broken, I thought it would be hard for somebody to beat it. I know how difficult it is to line up week in and week out in the violent National Football League. And to see what Brett Favre has done, what Peyton Manning has done, what Eli Manning he's on a run of his own I mean, these are truly remarkable streaks when you think of the violence that is now the National Football League and the type of hits everyone takes.
And as a player, you know, you certainly take pride in durability. This is a manhood game. Everyone wants to believe they're tougher, they're stronger. So clearly, you know, coaches always talk about durability, lining up, availability, being out there every single week not only for yourself but for your teammates or your coaching staff and your city. That's the only way to develop consistent offense and have continuity is have the quarterback out there every single week.
So Favre and Manning, they take great pride in being there for their teammates. You know, I would just be guessing. The only guy who knows how he feels right now is Peyton Manning, if he'll be there opening day. I can only say this, I sure hope he's there because Peyton Manning is a guy that, when I come into my office on Tuesday afternoon, it's always one of the first tapes that I plug in because every time I watch him, I see something new and unique, and he's just such an asset to the game. You know, I know people love to watch him play like I do. So I can only hope that he'll be there against the Texans on opening day.
JON GRUDEN: I know Peyton Manning not quite as well as a lot of people, but I fully expect him to play. Then again, we're talking about a serious injury and just cross your fingers. That's all I can do. I hope he can play because I get a lot of pleasure out of watching him in the Indianapolis Colts offense when he's running it.