Brandt: Texans will win AFC South

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Texans owner Bob McNair has set up the Texans for sustained success, according to NFL analyst Gil Brandt.

HoustonTexans.com's Nick Scurfield interviewed NFL.com's Gil Brandt during Brandt's recent visit to Houston for SIRIUS NFL Radio. Brandt served as vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys from 1960-89, helping Dallas to win two Super Bowls and grow into one of the most successful franchises in American sports.

Brandt was a pioneer in developing many scouting strategies that today are commonplace throughout the NFL. He has spent the last eight years as NFL.com's main personnel guru and offers insight and commentary on all aspects of players and teams.

In the first segment of this two-part interview, Brandt gives a bold prediction for the Texans' 2009 season, analyzes the team's 2009 draft and shares his opinion on the leadership of the organization.

Nick Scurfield:Gil, you were with the Dallas Cowboys from the start of the franchise in 1960 and saw what it took to build a playoff team from the ground up. Where do you see the Texans in that developmental arc?

Gil Brandt: I think that they have done a marvelous job. I think Mr. (Bob) McNair, the owner, everybody in this organization, is first-class, high-character type of people, and I marvel at how well they do things. And I think that they're a team that's being built to succeed for more than just a one-year run. They have got a lot of good players and they've got a lot of good backup players, is what they have. As I said, I think they're an extremely well-run organization. I personally think that they will win the AFC South this year.

Nick Scurfield:Would you say the AFC South is more wide open than it has been in years past, given the Colts' coaching and personnel changes, the Titans losing Albert Haynesworth, etc.?

Gil Brandt:Yeah, I think that's a good summation of it. I think a lot of times people forget the value of coaches. I'm a big believer that because the competitive balance is so good in this league that coaching is the difference, the thing that tilts it. The Titans lost Jim Schwartz, defensive coordinator, to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions, and Haynesworth. I think those are two huge, huge things.

{QUOTE}And I think you said it very well about a new coach (with the Colts). I think the difference is, is that when you had (Tony) Dungy there and they lost a game or they had some key injuries or something, he was the steadying influence on that football team. I don't know if (Jim) Caldwell will be that steadying influence and if people will have the faith in Caldwell that they had in Dungy.

Nick Scurfield: Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak have focused on building the team through the draft. What do you think about the job that they've done with that over the last three years?

Gil Brandt: I think they've done a great job, and as you look in particular at this year's draft, I think that their first choice (Brian Cushing) is a really good pick. I think that the second choice (Connor Barwin) is a pick that's got a lot of upside. I like (Glover) Quin, the corner, a lot. I think that he's a very, very good pick for them. And every year, they go out and sign quality free agents. You know, their starting right guard from Colorado State (Mike Brisiel), I believe, is a free agent, and he's a pretty darn good player.

But they've got a lot of really quality individuals. When you talk about people like (DeMeco) Ryans, they're really quality people. And those are the kind of people that you win with. You win with people like (Matt) Schaub, another quality individual, high-character guy. I don't know how you can do anything better than what they do, except to win your division. That's the only thing you can say. And you know, it almost came about last year except for Sage Rosenfels I guess decided to jump and he should have stayed on the ground, and that's how competitive this National Football League is.

Nick Scurfield: What do you think about the job that Kubiak has done as head coach of the Texans?

Gil Brandt:I think he's done a great job. I like to think that I was a little bit responsible for Gary being in football. When he was a senior at Texas A&M and Jackie Sherrill was his coach, I got a call one day from Gary and he wanted to ask me what I thought he should think about doing. I think he had some business opportunities. I told him I thought he should be a football player. And I said, "Eventually, because of your intelligence, you'll be more than just a player in the National Football League."

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Stay tuned to HoustonTexans.com for part two of this interview. To download the audio version of this interview from the Texans' Podcast Central page, click here.

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