1. On Sunday, Dunta Robinson will return to the stadium that he called home for the first six years of his NFL life. It would be an understatement to say that Dunta left a less-than-pleasant impression on Texans fans on his way out of Houston and up I-10.
I mean, you had his (allegedly) demanding close to $23M in guaranteed money and scoffing at the $18M to $19M that the team was offering, despite having started only six games the previous season due to the 2007 injury. You had Dunta's claiming to be "disappointed" and "betrayed" after the team used the franchise tag on him (at a cost of nearly $10M for the 2009 season). There was Dunta's threatening not to play in 2009 unless the team promised not to tag him in 2010.
Then there was his offseason holdout that he didn't end until but a week before the season opener against the Jets. Speaking of that game, there was the "Pay Me, Rick" stupidity on Dunta's shoes and his overall poor on-field performance that stemmed in no small part from his lack of offseason preparation. After his below-average season, there was his "No, really, I was never mad about making nearly $10M this season" backtracking. And, once the Texans smartly decided not to pay him $12M under the franchise tag in 2010, there was Dunta's remarking that he "really wasn't too sure if winning right now was (Houston's) main focus" after he signed in Atlanta (for much less guaranteed money than he'd turned down in 2009).
Along the way, fans went from thinking Dunta was awesome for coming back so quickly from his leg injury to kinda sorta siding with him during the "betrayal" of the franchise tag, then to thinking he was a whiny, overpaid diva, and, ultimately, to feeling such enmity toward the man that "F--k Dunta" became a (terribly annoying) comment meme around these parts.
Prior to all of this, however, Dunta was a fan favorite. This was due in large part to his play on the field, where, as Tim wrote in the previous link, "Dunta was playing corner as well or better than anyone in the league this season, and his presence was frequently the ONLY good thing about the secondary each week." But it was also the intensity with which he played; as Dunta himself once rhetorically asked in response to a question about who the most physical player on the roster was, "Oh me, without a doubt! How many 180-pound guys do you see bring the wood like I do?"
Because of the bipolar nature that most Texans fans have with Dunta Robinson, I'm actually kind of curious to see how he is greeted Sunday during player introductions. It would be understandable for the whole place to erupt in boos and chants of "how do you feel about turning down all that money in 2009" (or something a little less unwieldy). At the same time, it would be understandable if people cheered for the guy who, from 2004 to November 4, 2007, was the face and soul of the Texans' defense. I suspect we'll get a fairly even split between the two camps.
As for what I'd do? I'd boo. Then I'd shout derisive comments about his parentage and worth as a human being every time Andre Johnson caught a pass on him. But I'm classy like that, so your methods may vary.
2. You might have noticed yesterday that Paul Kuharsky wasted some bandwidth discussing how the Titans could still win the AFC South. On one point, PK was correct, if not overly insightful: the Titans would win the division if they had the best record. NO, REALLY! IT'S TRUE!
Paul then tackled the scenario where the Texans and Titans ended with the same record, stating that, for the Titans to win the division via tiebreakers:
They need the Texans to wind up at 10-6 with one of their three remaining losses coming at Indianapolis. (Highly improbable, I know, but play along with the scenario, please) while the Titans finish 10-6 with their one remaining loss coming outside the AFC South.
Astute readers will notice that this doesn't exactly tango with what I quoted in the Two-Day Hangover on Tuesday about how there was one --- and only one --- scenario under which the Titans would win via tiebreakers:
Houston must lose to Indy, Cincinnati, and Tennessee and must beat Atlanta and Carolina.
Tennessee must lose to Buffalo and defeat Houston, Jacksonville, Indy, and New Orleans.
If all that happens, they will both finish 10-6, 1-1 head to head, with an 8-4 record vs. Common opponents, and a 7-5 conference record. The 5th tiebreaker [strength of victory] would decide it.
To determine which of us was correct --- spoiler alert: it wasn't Kuharsky --- I used the playoff-scenario generator that PK linked in his own post. I had Houston defeat Cincinnati and Carolina, while losing to Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Tennessee. I had Tennessee lose to New Orleans and win their other four games. This fits perfectly with what PK claimed would get Tennessee in as the division winner. Except it didn't. In that scenario, Houston is in as the division champ based on common opponents.
3. Speaking of ESPN, Aaron Schatz has an article up over there (In$ider only) that discusses how good Houston's defense really is. It's worth a read if you have access, but I mention it specifically for this one paragraph:
The other big improvement has come from the addition of free-agent cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Joseph's impact can be seen from the splits of passes against Houston by direction. Joseph generally plays left cornerback, so he's on the offense's right side. The Texans allow just 4.2 yards per pass attempt on passes to the right, a yard better than any other team. They allow a completion percentage of just 48 percent on passes in that direction. By comparison, they allow 7.2 yards per pass on passes to the left (13th) and 8.7 yards per pass on passes in the middle of the field (17th).
By now, if you don't love Joseph more than you love most members of your own family, I have to question whether you really possess the capacity to love anything.