I'd love to sit here and tell you that your Houston Texans are "the best 0-2 team you'll ever see." Really, I would. But I can't, because they're not. The numbers don't lie.
Since the 2008 regular season began, the Texans have looked like something that is expelled from a canine's anus. In reality, your Houston Texans have looked far more like the two (2) win team of 2005 than the eight (8) win team of 2007. And yes, I know...the Texans have played two (2) teams that feature defenses likely to be ranked in the Top Five at season's end. And I also realize that the effects of Hurricane Ike surely weighed heavy on the minds of everyone in the Houston organization for the last week. The fact remains, however, that hurricane or no hurricane, talented opponent or not, the Texans we saw in Pittsburgh and Nashville could not have beaten anyone in the NFL. They sucked. Badly. Pure and simple. There's no way around that. And if they don't turn this thing around quickly, we're headed for a first-round pick in the first hour of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Luckily (right now; that may change) for us, there's still a ton of football to be played. All's not lost...yet. But yesterday reinforced several of the issues we saw in Pittsburgh. Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?
1. There are very few positives to be gleaned from yesterday's abomination, so I'm getting those out of the way first. The brightest spot, of course, was Steve Slaton (18 carries for 116 yards and a TD). While nearly half of those yards came from one run, when was the last time a Texan RB even broke off a run of more than ten (10) yards? I'm not looking that gift horse in the mouth. Not that we have to worry about it, because it would actually require Ahman Green to suit up, but there should be ZERO debate over who should be starting at RB.
2. Apostrophe Davis was also a solid contributor yesterday. Between his good returns and that forty-nine (49) yard reception, Davis did not make me want to vomit into an airplane pillowcase (consider that last phrase a bit of foreshadowing, gentle reader).
3. The offensive line wasn't great. They probably weren't even good. But I'd say they were passable. They got pushed around too much by another tremendous front four (especially up the middle), but they were not nearly as cringe-inducing as they had been at Heinz Field. I guess what I'm saying is that they sucked a good deal less than they did in their prior engagement. That's worth something, right? Kind of like being the prettiest girl in Oklahoma.
4. I suppose it's technically possible for Matt Schaub to play worse than he has the last two (2) games. After all, there's always another interception to be thrown, more happy feet to display in the pocket, more refusals to look at anyone other than your first read, etc. On an afternoon that saw several Texans striving to be declared the crappiest player on the field, Schaub won the title going away. His interceptions, like those that he threw against the Steelers, were atrocious. How in the hell can Schaub look so bad now when he looked so solid in several games last year? What happened?
5. That said, I don't think you can pull the plug yet. At this point, we've got a body of severely contrasting work. Is he the guy we saw last year against the Saints? Or is he the guy we saw yesterday? I don't know, though I'd readily admit he's trending downward at a precipitous rate. The most important game of his professional career takes place on Sunday in Jacksonville. If Schaub doesn't play one hundred times better, the calls for Sage Rosenfels will be completely justified and may well be impossible for Kubes to ignore.
6. As horrible as Schaub was, he got absolutely no help from his WRs. Andre Johnson dropped two (2) surefire TD passes, and Owen Daniels bobbled away/dropped another one that he should have caught. If those guys aren't going to catch the balls that are thrown their way, the Texans will be lucky to stay within two (2) TDs of anyone all year.
7. Vonta Leach remains a viable option in the passing game, and I remain perplexed as to why this is so.
8. The offensive playcalling was extraordinarily suspect, and I'm not even talking about the six (6) times Kubes went for it on fourth down (that gets its own paragraph). One play really sticks out to me in particular. Third and four from the Houston 20, early third quarter, Texans trailing 21-12. And the call is a pitch outside to Slaton? Zuh? This ain't college ball, and Slaton ain't Barry Sanders. I cannot imagine a poorer call that would not have included taking a knee. But hey, at least that was on third down, because on fourth down...
9. Kubes treated the game like it was Tecmo Bowl. Punting? What's that? Field goals? Those are for wimps! Never mind that Kris Brown is as close to automatic as it gets, and that you could have cut the deficit to six (6) points by simply taking the three (3) each time, thus giving yourself a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter. Nah--letting your anemic offense and jittery QB spit the bit to keep the deficit at twelve (12) is a far more sound strategy.
10. Of course, kicking those FGs would have required Bryan Pittman snapping the ball, which is apparently asking an awful lot out of a guy whose only job is to snap the ball. It was almost like he and Matt Turk got together before the game and said, "Remember last year's game in San Diego? Let's see if we can top it!" Well, congrats, fellas. Turk staggering around like a drunken sorority pledge, complete with his patented falling-down-on-ass-and-chucking-football-straight-up-in-the-air move, was priceless. It'll haunt my dreams for years to come.
11. While we're on the subject of field goals, you cannot settle for two (2) of them when the Titans turn the ball over twice early in the game, giving the Texans unbelievable field position. A good team gets ten (10) points out of those turnovers. A very good team gets fourteen (14). The Texans got six (6). You do the math.
12. You know what would be swell? A pass rush. Whereas in weeks past we've at least been able to rave about Super Mario, the Titans did a tremendous job making him a complete non-factor. Normally, you'd like to think someone else would step up to fill that hole, but instead we got more of the same from the DL: Nothing.
13. Linebacking play was below average. Not nearly as bad as the defensive line, but not good by any stretch of the imagination.
14. Jacques Reeves' first quarter INT was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that ol' Jacques decided he was done touching the ball for the day, steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that the football was coming his way a few more times when he was stride for stride with the WR.
15. Fred Bennett, please take a look at tape from last year and attempt to re-capture that technique. I beg you.
16. Will Demps made what I would say was the worst tackle I've ever had the displeasure to see in person on Bo Scaife's TD catch. Frankly, calling it a tackle is misleading, because Demps looked like he was aiming for the ground two (2) yards in front of Scaife.
17. Dunta Robinson was easily the most pumped up individual on the Houston sideline. Unfortunately, he is not playing for another several weeks.
18. One more note on Kubiak...his penchant for ill-conceived challenges has become laughable, but I don't know how much of that is on him. Doesn't he have someone upstairs who's watching the game on video and telling him when a play should be challenged? I believe he does, and I believe I'd be scouring the classifieds today if I was that person.
19. You probably think the title of this post is some sort of metaphor or exaggeration. Or you did, until I hinted otherwise. So here's the story: Dejected after the beating our squad took (and beginning to wonder if my travel to the road games was serving as some sort of jinx), I headed to the airport to fly home. My buddies and I stopped for some food in the Terminal A food court. I decided that some Chinese food would ease my troubled soul, and proceeded to order from Manchu Wok. As I ate it, I remarked to my friends that the chicken did not taste very good. But because I (a) was hungry and (b) am a dumbass, I ate most of it.
Fast forward an hour, and guess who unswallowed his dinner? Into an airplane pillowcase, no less, as his seat didn't have any barf-bags and the damn drink cart was blocking the path to the lavatory? There I sat for another hour, with a seeping sack of barely digested Chinese food at my feet and my sense of self-worth slightly lessened.
You might ask why I'm telling you this terrible tale, and the answer is simple: First, it's somewhat amusing. Secondly, it shows that things can get worse, even when they seem like they can't. Keep that in mind on Sunday when the Texans face the Jags.