When the tale of the Texans 2008 season is told, I believe that one of the main threads running through it will be the story of a team that had to get out of its own way.
As the Texans have cleaned up their turnovers and improved their decision-making with the ball, they have started winning.
Week 1 @ Pittsburgh: The Texans did everything wrong. The Steelers dominated, but the Texans sure poured gasoline on the fire with long drops and having a zone blocking line go man-up with the likes of Casey Hampton and James Harrison.
They were out of it the whole game.
Week 2 vs. Ike: A brief pause for all those who got through this storm and those who are still struggling.
Week 3 @ Tennessee: The Texans had so many misfires. It was ugly. AJ dropping balls all over the place. Turning the ball over 3 times. Choking in the Red Zone 5 out of 6 times. Yet as I said back then, I saw good things.
They were in it until the 4th quarter.
Week 4 @ Jacksonville: The Texans played a sloppy game against Jacksonville. They made big plays against a decent Jacksonville defense and brought the game right down to the wire.
They were in it to the last drive in overtime.
Week 5 vs. Indy: The Texans owned this game until the last few drives and the fabled Rosencopter. The Texans did everything right for 45 minutes.
This game came down to the last few drives.
Week 6 vs. Miami: The Texans made a gut check and came up big in this one. Schaub's QB draw was electric. The Texans made the plays they had to all game.
They put this one away on the final drive.
Week 7 vs. Detroit: The Texans came roaring out to a 21-3 lead just before the half. They coasted the rest of the way and it almost cost them, but they turned it on when they needed it on both sides of the ball.
They put this one away in the 4th quarter.
Week 8 vs. Cincinatti: Pure unadulterated domination from kickoff to kneel down. No one anywhere with any idea of what was happening at Reliant could say anything other than the Texans dominated the competiti on.
This game was done by halftime.
Week 9 vs. Minnisota: Looking forward to this game. I'm hoping the Texans continue to stay out of their own way. Specifically, that they have Steve Slaton and Ahman Green run the ball at least 15 times each. There are 3 reasons for this.
One, the Texans are becoming a solid running team and so much more of the passing game is open when the run is rolling.
Second is because Minnesota will stop the run. Unless Slaton just breaks one, the first 10 or so runs are going to be stuffed for less than 3 yards a carry. The Texans can't get away from the run and let Jared Allen and Kevin Williams wreak havoc in the passing game.
Third is because as good as the Vikings' defense is, they can be taken advantage of. They seem to excel when they can be agressive. Guys like Antoine Winfield and Darren Sharper love to ball hawk. I'd rather have them staring into the back field every play, because runs 10-30 have averaged 5 yards per carry.
On defense, the Texans are capable. They tend to break down in long stretches. If they're on the field for more than 8-10 snaps at a time, they begin to wear down and lose energy.
If they're only on the field for short periods of time, this young defense gets excited and animated. They begin to disrupt plays and force turnovers. Running the ball 15/15 will keep the Texans defense off the field.
If the Texans can get out of their own way, they will win on the road in Minnesota.
If you've been watching all the little things, Kubiak is cleaning up this team. The drops are shorter, the receivers' hands are better, turnovers are dropping, and a young secondary is even starting to realize they can ball hawk a little.
At the end of the 2008 season, we might just say the Texans got out of their own way.