1. The offense can be potent. Shots that drew penalties and fines have knocked Matt Schaub out of action in the past. Even so Gary Kubiak has talked of Schaub learning to stay on the field. When he's out there and finds his rhythm, this can be a dynamic offense with Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, Owen Daniels and other capable receivers. Last year, the offense put up the yards but not the points. Often times, such a team sees a jump in scoring the following season. Running better in the red zone is expected to help solve production issues there, and the offense has to cut turnovers. It can be one of the league's best.
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2. We don't have a great read on Brian Cushing yet. The strongside linebacker acquired with the Texans first-round pick automatically ranked as a starter and the expectation is that he will make the unit more rugged and sturdy. But he suffered a knee injury early in camp and has been out of action. He's expected to be ready for the regular season opener against the Jets, and based on what we've seen most recently from the defensive front, he's needed. Even with him, the interior defensive line needs to play far better and ensure that teams don't have an easy time running up the gut. Cushing and the two other big additions -- free agent defensive lineman Antonio Smith and second-round end Connor Barwin, also need to help create a consistent pass rush that comes from more places than Mario Williams.
3. The goals are obvious. The Texans aren't expecting the Titans or Colts to come back to them, so they need to go get their AFC South rivals. The recipe is simple but not easy: A better start, so that November and December games mean something; better play on the road, where a win last season at Green Bay may have been a harbinger of things to come; and better head-to-head results against those division foes. The Texans are 1-13 against Indy, 3-11 against Tennessee and 8-6 against Jacksonville.