Sunday afternoon, after watching your Houston Texans methodically defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, I found myself confronted with the question of what to do with the rest of my day. I was already drunk, so, obviously, the answer had to include some sort of power tool.
And that's how I wound up sitting on my deck on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in October, enjoying another screwdriver and using a Dremel to carve the Houston Texans' helmet into the side of a pumpkin.1
Throw in the chopped beef BBQ sandwiches (hot, with slaw), courtesy of a 9 a.m. drive from Little Rock to Craig's in DeValls Bluff, and it's hard for me to find anything bad about Sunday. Yet, judging by the comments from a number of people, especially after the game, not everyone had such a lovely, pumpkin-and-vodka-centric day, and that lack of gourd-like squash and Russian water caused them to view the game differently. That's about the only way I can explain the negative reactions by some people following the win. Even if Kubiak made a couple calls that you hated at the time, the fact is that your team is in first place in the division after 8 weeks and undefeated in the division after 3 games, neither of which has happened before.
I'm not telling anyone to play dumb and start acting like everything is absolutely perfect with the Texans, that Gary Kubiak should be beatified as soon as he dies, or anything like that. That would be absurd. Besides, I've questioned some of his play-calling myself from time to time, and I totally understand the cynicism that comes from being a Texans fan. All I am saying is that you should, you know, try to enjoy what's happening, at least in the macro sense. If the Texans win, there is no reason that anyone's first reaction to the game should be, "Yeah, but Kubiak [insert something commenter didn't like]."
Hey, I realize this is all just, like, my opinion, man. If you disagree --- if you want to focus on what you perceive to be specific examples of Kubiak or Matt Schaub or Kareem Jackson sucking, despite the fact that the Texans are doing well --- no one is going to stop you.2 It's just starting to feel like there are people here who would complain about the color of her toenail polish while Alison Brie was getting naked in front of them. If you're focusing on that, you're sort of missing the point.
Consecutive passes by Matthew Rutledge Schaub without an interception. His career best is 132 last year, from week 10 through his 31st against against Philadelphia, but the three full interception-free games ties his career-best streak.
Games between Matt Schaub's last rushing TD (v. Miami in 2008) and his rushing TD on Sunday. You may remember that last one:
One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other / One Of These Things Just Doesn't Belong.
No one will ever accuse Schaubby of being "fast," but I seemed to recall him being somewhat mobile in college. So I checked the numbers. Apparently, I was thinking only of one season:
With Jacoby Jones, Johnathan Joseph, and J.J. Watt now all on the Texans' roster, I feel like we need a quick review of the commonly recognized nicknames for each, just to keep things straight. After all, if you're going off on a violent rant, you want to make sure people know which player you are cursing. (Spoiler alert: it's probably Jacoby Jones.)
Anyway, here's how the nicknames work, best I can tell:
- Jacoby Jones: JJ, Jakesepeare, Jenius3
- Jonathan Joseph: Jo Jo, J-Jo, JJow (I hate this one, because it's stupid)
- J.J. Watt: J.J. (note the difference), Killawatt, Megawatt, Honey Badger, Mario Blanco
Career rushing TDs by Arian Foster, tying Domanick Williams (nee Davis) for first all-time. Of course, Foster has done it in 28 games, while it took Williams 40 games. I realize that the Steve Slaton Corollary is still fresh in everyone's minds, but, were I allowed to vote on such things, I would vote that Rick Smith pay Arian Foster handsomely. Every single thing about Foster suggests that he's a legit, elite NFL running back. Even as good as Ben Tate has been, it's impossible to see the two play and not realize that Foster brings a different dynamic to the entire offense.
(Totally random, but does anyone else find it interesting that Foster's first number with the Texans was 37, the same number worn by Domanick Williams? No? I'm the only one? OK.)
Career rushing yards needed by Foster to pass Williams (3,195) for first all-time in team history. At Foster's current pace, it would take almost nine more games to pass this. Not bad for a guy that no one even wanted to waste a draft pick on. Also, lest ye think that such a total is laughable, consider that the Carolina Panthers, who have existed for seven more seasons than the Texans, have an all-time leading rushing (DeAngelo Williams) with only 4,574 yards.
Coming into this season, with almost 1,000 carries under his belt, Chris Johnson was averaging 4.8 yards per carry. In just over 100 carries in 2011, he's been so terrible that his career yards/carry has dropped to 4.7. That's awesome, or whatever the absolute polar opposite of awesome is. Anti-awesome, I guess.
Speaking of CJ.
Johnson had 14 carries. For 34 yards. Against the Colts. The Colts, who are allowing over 100 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. (For the sake of comparison, Javon Ringer averaged 4.3 per carry against the Colts, and he rushed for 60 yards on --- wait for it --- 14 carries.)
Random '90s Rap Video.
Where Arian Foster (532) and Ben Tate (508), respectively, rank in total rushing yards this season. No other team even has two RBs in the top 25, let alone the top 10. Additionally, Tate's 29.9% first-down percentage ranks first among the running backs in the top 25 in rushing yards.
This team can friggin' run the ball like nobody's business is my point.
Number of career 100-yard games for Arian Foster. The all-time leader in such games is Emmitt Smith with 78. Yet, through the same number of games as Foster has played, Smith had 8 100-yard games.
That's Not Typically How It Works.
It's probably not surprising to any of you who know me that I have an inordinate number of pet peeves. Like, I'm the Eleanor Abernathy of pet peeves. I am ok with this, mainly because I am convinced that all the things that annoy me should annoy every right-minded person.
For example, when I see someone who is not a total stranger, I often give a standard greeting of, "Hey, how's it going?" Clearly, the correct response to this would be anything that answers the question, from "Great!" to "Eh ... I'm not dead yet." The incorrect response is to ask me the same question in response without first addressing the question I posed to you. Yet people do this all the time. If you did this to pretty much any other question, the asker would look at you like you sharted.
Wife: "Hey, what time is it?"
You: "What time is it?"
Wife: "I...just asked you that."
You: "Yeah, I know."
Wife: /stabs you death in your sleep
Welcome Back To That Same Old Place That We Laughed About.
I am 92.7645% sure that Andre Johnson is going to play this coming weekend against the Cleveland Browns 2.0. I don't think you can (or would) understate what Andre brings to the Texans. To wit: Despite missing almost 60% of the season, Johnson still ranks in the top 25 in total plays of 20 yards or more, in the top 30 in 40+ yard plays, just outside the top 50 (52, to be exact) in total receiving yards, and in the top 75 in receptions.
The Cleveland Browns are one of only two teams that Andre Johnson has played at least 4 times without scoring a TD. The other? The Cincinnati Bengals.
A Note To All Male Users of Facebook.
Every time you refer to your spouse as "wifey" in a status message, an angel loses its wings AND God kills an orphan. Just sayin'. (Pet names may be used when writing on your spouse's wall, though they should be used sparingly, just to protect the orphans.)
Wins over the Jaguars in Texans' franchise history.
Losses to the Jaguars in Texans' franchise history.
To Punt, Or Not To Punt.
On the Texans' second possession Sunday, their drive stalled out at the Jaguars' 36-yard line, leaving the Texans with 4th & 7. Rather than attempt a 53-yard FG, Gary Kubiak sent punter Brett Hartmann out to punt. The punt was beautiful, and the Texans downed it at the 11. (Tangent: How great is it to have a punter who can do that consistently?)
This is not the first time Kubiak has ordered a punt from inside the other team's 40, and, just like those other times, this punt immediately sparked debate over whether it was the right call. While I was (and generally still am) in the "no" camp on that question, I think you can make an argument both ways. So let's do that.
Why The Punt Was The Wrong Call.
Basically, this argument comes down to math --- expected points if you go for it versus expected points if you punt. If you go for it and make the first down, then (by definition) you've gotten the ball at least to the Jags' 29. If you go for it and fail, you will likely hand over the ball to the Jags somewhere between the 36 and the 29. Sure, you could get more than seven yards, just as you could possibly lose yards, but using the 29 for success here and the 36 for failure should give us our most accurate take.
Now, according to Advanced NFL Stats, which is a fantastic site that you all should be reading, the average potential points that a team can expect from a first down at the opponent's 29-yard line is about 3.2. (You can see the chart and get a better explanation of the methodology here.) The expected points for the Jags, were they to take over at their own 36, would be around 1.1. (Making it a -1.1 for the Texans, of course.) Obviously, however, it's not that simple; 4th & 7 is no gimme, so the odds of making the first down have to be factored in. Teams convert from that down-and-distance outside the 20-yard line about 40% of the time. With these numbers, we can figure the net value of going for it, using the equation:
(Success % * Success EP) + ((1 - Success %) * Fail EP)
(.40 * 3.2) + ((1 - .40) * -1.1) = .62
That is, the net expected value of going for it in that situation is .62 points.
The value of the punt, of course, depends on where the opponent takes over with the ball. If the punter Turks it and puts it into the endzone, the opponent would take over at their 20, which carries an EP of -.4 for the kicking team. Generally, however, a punt from the 36 will net about 25 yards (Hartman's netted 25), giving the opponent the ball on their 12, which is worth .1 for the kicking team. Think about that: it's a swing of over half a point between going for it and punting in this situation.
But what about a field goal? Glad you asked! Once you factor in the other team receiving the kickoff following a made FG, the value of a FG is 2.3 EP. The line of scrimmage was the 36, meaning that the ball would be kicked from the 43 (and that's where the opponent would take over, making it worth -1.1 EP if you miss). Plugging those numbers into our formula above, we get that the EP for a FG in that situation is .4 points, which is still less than the EP for going for it.
Why The Punt Was The Right Call
All of the numbers above come from NFL Game Book data over the course of nine years, meaning that all of the percentages represent the likelihood of success (or failure) in a given situation over time. They do not necessarily mean that you can bank on them for a specific situation. For example, if you have a terrible kicker, obviously the 45% success rate on that FG is probably inapplicable.
On Sunday, faced with the 4th & 7, what if Gary Kubiak thought that the Texans' chance of success on the play was only, say, 20%? After all, while the Texans' had moved the ball pretty well against the Jags on their first possession, they still averaged only 6.6 yards per play on that drive. In addition, following a big pass to Jacoby Jones, the Jags' D allowed a 5-yard gain and a 3-yard loss to Foster, followed by forcing an incompletion on the sideline to Walter. So, again, assume that Kubiak thought the Texans' were only 20% likely to succeed if they went for it. Using the same formula from above, we replace the .40 with .20, and we're left with -.24 EP compared with our .1 EP for the punt.
Obviously, I don't think that Gary Kubiak was over on the sideline, calculating these sorts of things, nor do I think that he even worked out the likelihood of success had they gone for it. He punted because he didn't want Neil Rackers to try a long FG, and the alternative that damn near every coach in the NFL (and almost all non-Les Miles college coaches) takes there is to punt. Going for it likely never entered Kubiak's head at all. Nevertheless, while I can say with near certainty that, over time, punting in that situation is costing your team points, I can't say with any certainty that, in that single specific situation, Kubiak's decision was incorrect.
Said It Before, And I'll Say It Again.
The NFL is missing out on a ton of cash by not letting people pay and have access to the high-angle, coaches' tapes of games. I would gladly pay $50/month for it, and it would make Pro Football Focus a little more believable if I thought they had such access. (That's a post for a different day, however.)
Unnecessary Archer Quote.
I happen to have perfect situational awareness, Lana. Which cannot be taught, by the way. Like a poet's ... mind for ... to make the perfect words."
Combined length, in yards, of the Jaguars' scoring drives.
Completion percentage against the Houston Texans, good for best in the league.
Yards per game and points per game allowed by the Houston Texans, good for third- and fifth-best, respectively. Yes, that's right; at the midway point in the season, your Houston Texans have a top-5 defense in both scoring and yardage. And it just gets better, the deeper you dig. For example, they are sixth in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (97.4) and fifth in passing yards allowed (189.4). They are tied for 9th in team sacks (20) and are sixth in interceptions (10).
The "Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer" Inexplicable Decision Of The Week
[Author's note: It's a sad day in Two-Day Hangover Land. It seems that Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer has gotten married and changed the name on her public profile to the much more professional sounding, "Marijuana Sawyer-Clardy." Dang. Thankfully, we have a long memory around here, at least when it comes to stuff like this, so we'll just forge ahead and pretend like nothing has changed.]
Much like the decision to name your daughter "Marijuana Pepsi," the official's decision not to flag the Jaguars for a forward lateral following Clint Sessions sack was baffling. Watching the video, you see that Terrance "My Big Ol' Fee Fee Hurts" Knighton lets the ball go short of the 20-yard line, while Session catches it as he is crossing the 20. There's an official not five yards away with an unimpeded view.
One Step Closer To Crunk.
According to UofT Lee --- and confirmed by beefy --- the Texans played Dre Ladon's "Red, White, and Blue" in Reliant on Sunday.
Two thoughts on the song. First, it's catchy, but I agree with ~Jay that Dre Ladon made a rookie mistake here by mentioning so many players, rendering the song obsolete rather quickly. (I mean, how timeless can a song that mentions Jacoby Jones really be?) Second, however, I choose to take that this song was even played as proof that Bob McNair reads the Two-Day Hangover, and he took my rant about the Saints' gameday experience to heart. Good on ya, Uncle Bob!
TXT MSGs Of The Week.
Jack Ingram just sang the national anthem. While playing the guitar. It's Houston ByGod Texas on Battle Red Day.
I've been drinking Hudson's 8% beer all morning and I'm not sure my feet are attached to my legs right now.
 I'm pretty sure that scenario was one of the things Ice Cube mentioned in "It Was A Good Day." For the record, I did not have to use my AK. But I thought about it.
 I'm not even going to pretend like I haven't been there before myself; it's almost second nature when your team has only once won more games than it lost in a season. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm trying reeeaaal hard to be the shepherd.
 I just added this one because I wrote it in an email yesterday and it cracked me up. I can do that. That is the upside to writing for BRB. Well, that and the Tuesday afternoon lapdances, but Vega isn't appealing to everyone.