SON OF A .... What can I say? Yesterday, we all witnessed a beating the likes of which we thought we had left in the rearview mirror. Evidently, we were wrong, because the Steelers destroyed your Houston Texans in every way they could be destroyed. If they had been so inclined, Roethlisberger, Parker & Co. could have hung fifty (50) points on the Texans; the only reason that didn't happen was because the Steelers took the proverbial knee in the fourth quarter and threw all of four (4) passes in the third quarter. I haven't seen a team impose its will on the Texans like that, from start to finish, in quite some time. Sure, last season's effort against San Diego was ghastly; maybe this is conveniently revisionist history, but I don't remember it being as categorically pathetic as yesterday's disaster. In short, the Texans played about as poorly as they possibly could, and certainly far worse than any of us ever dreamed. They should be ashamed of themselves. I'm going to swallow my own tongue if I don't stop thinking about the game; let's get this PGB cranked out so we can begin the healing process:
1. Hey, I know it was only limited action, but Ahman Green made it through an entire ga---...what's that? You're kidding me. I did NOT see that one coming. Evidently, neither did Ahman or his agent. Still, there's a good chance Ahman Green made $1,800,000.00 for contributing thirty-one (31) total yards this season. What a country!
2. The statistics don't show it, but I thought Steve Slaton acquitted himself pretty well in his regular season debut. He ran hard and decisively. Truth be told, Ahman looked reasonably good too, right up until he began clutching his Life-Alert pendant.
3. Where was Chris Taylor?
4. The offensive line, on the whole, looked like they should have suited up for a junior high powderpuff game. Although they showed flashes of competence, this certainly wasn't what Alex Gibbs was brought here to do. Look, I know Pittsburgh has one of the, if not the, best front-seven(s) in the NFL. They're fast, they play a unique scheme, and they attack. The Texans might not face a better defense this year. But you know what? I don't care. The Texans were so severely whipped in the trenches (on both sides of the ball, but we'll get to the defense later) that they didn't even look like they were in the same league as the Steelers. They got beat off the edge. They got beat on the interior. They got pushed around. They looked totally overmatched, and that's on the coaches and the players. Specifically...
5. Chris Myers seemed to constantly be giving ground at the point of attack. Granted, that's nearly a given considering Mt. Hampton was the dude doing a lot of the taking, but I was still surprised at how often and how severely Myers looked to be on the wrong end of the battle.
6. I know Duane Brown has garnered mixed reviews from his debut, but I thought he performed fairly well in the first half and was then victimized in the second half by a Pro Bowler who's probably as fast or faster than anyone he'll see all season. Brown's a rookie starting at LT, and he's going to take his lumps. No reason to panic yet, especially not after he looked so capable throughout the preseason.
7. Ephraim Salaam looked pretty slow in limited duty, so I wouldn't harbor any illusions about him displacing D. Brown.
8. As I watched the game, I remarked to my buddy that Matt Schaub was doing his best impression of David Carr, circa 2006. Awful pocket presence. Horrible decisions with the ball, including two (2) interceptions that made me recoil in horror. Seemed to lock in on 'Dre and not survey the field. Took some brutal hits early (Vonta Leach in particular almost got Schaub decapitated on one of the five (5) sacks) and then looked rattled for the rest of game. And if you didn't watch the game and just looked at his final numbers, you'd think that he didn't play nearly as badly as he did. The similarities are chilling, aren't they?
9. All that said, Kubes was absolutely right not to bring Sage Rosenfels in. With Pittsburgh running as soft a scheme as you'll ever see in the fourth quarter, the Texans were bound to score a garbage TD or two. And better for Schaub to be the one "leading" those drives, even though we know they meant nothing. Had Sage been the guy under center for those meaningless snaps, we would've been bombarded with incessant yammering about how Sage led the team to TDs in limited action when Schaub couldn't do it. It would have been ludicrous, but it still would've been a distraction the team does not need.
10. Speaking of meaningless snaps, what the hell was Andre Johnson doing in there once the score was 35-3? Does Kubes not remember what happened when he pulled that crap nearly one year ago to the day? I'm all for 'Dre getting his (hell, he's on my fantasy team), but that was a ridiculous risk the team shouldn't be taking with its best offensive player.
11. Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels each had one amazing catch. Would have been nice to see Schaub give them opportunities to go for two, three, four, or even five more receptions, huh?
12. Apostrophe Davis and Jacoby Jones held on to the ball during returns. That's about the nicest thing I can say about their impact on the game.
13. You would not believe how much Steelers fans despise Kris Brown. If you ever want to have some fun with one, tell them how automatic and clutch Brown has been as a Texan.
14. Mario Williams was fantastic. It's clear that he's picked up where he left off at the end of last season. He was superb. As bad as the game was, thinking about how dominant he was is the overriding positive. Praise doesn't do him justice.
15. The rest of the defensive line, however, was putrid. I'm going to stroke out if I write too long about it, so I'll break it down as quickly as I can. Neither Anthony Weaver or Travis Johnson should start another game for the Texans. Weaver is completely impotent at DE, and Tr. Johnson alternates between ineffective and galactically stupid (e.g., his horrible and catastrophic personal foul, one of which he seems to be good for each week). There's no way, and I mean NO WAY, that the alternatives at DE and/or DT could perform any worse. Please, Kubes...make an executive decision here. Weaver and Johnson are simply awful.
16. I thought Amobi Okoye made a play or two, but the stat sheet doesn't show it. If the Texans are going to be anything other than Super Mario & the Three Clowns, Amobi needs to find another gear.
17. I had Willie Parker on my fantasy team last season, and he scored two (2) TDs all year. Yesterday, he scored three (3) in one game. Clearly, Willie knew I was at Heinz Field yesterday and wanted to give me the bird. Message received loud and clear, Mr. Parker. I hate you.
18. DeMeco was all over the field, as usual. But it's not good when he's making 90% of his tackles ten (10) yards downfield.
19. Zac Diles racked up a ton of tackles, but I wasn't overly impressed with him. Still, that's worlds better than Morlon Greenwood. Remember when I called him "the most underrated defensive player in the NFL?" Dumbassery like that is why people don't take blogs seriously. Hey, X-Factor--get healthy already!
20. Fred Bennett looked like Petey Faggins yesterday.
21. Jacques Reeves looked surprisingly decent yesterday.
22. Any time the middle of the field looks like you could land an airplane in it, the safeties are not doing their jobs. Demps and Brown might as well have been on the sidelines for all the good they did. Is that on them, or is it on Richard Smith? I'll reserve judgment for now.
23. Fake Game Balls: Offense--Andre Johnson; Defense--Mario Williams; Special Teams--Matt Turk.
24. Finally, I just want to share a few thoughts on my trip to the Steel City. My buddy had warned me how much the Steelers meant to the city, how dedicated their fans were, how it was a different place than Houston. I'm here to tell you that whatever you've heard about how passionate Steelers fans are, multiply it by ten. You go to a city that boasts an NFL team the day before the game, and maybe you'll see a sign or two in a storefront; maybe you'll see a local wearing some gear. What you won't see is 80% of the population wearing some sort of team paraphernalia on a non-game day. Yet that's exactly what I saw in Pittsburgh, everywhere I went. The city is absolutely devoted to that team. To say I was amazed is an understatement.
And lest you think Steeler Nation is full of over-the-top pricks, let me say this: I could not have been treated any better as an opposing fan during my time in Pittsburgh. Granted, perhaps a Browns fan wouldn't be afforded that same respect. But I was, and it stuck with me. I got some good-natured ribbing (e.g., a dude wearing a Jack Lambert jersey telling me I had "big balls wearing a Texans shirt in this town"), but it was all in fun. The disastrous game aside, I have nothing but good things to say about Pittsburgh and their fans. They're first class, and they should be proud.
In less than a week, the Ravens come to town for the Texans' home opener. It goes without saying that this is a gigantic game for the good guys. Baltimore features an offense, a rookie QB, and a stout defense that should provide plenty of opportunity for redemption. Time to answer the bell, boys.