Of Momentum And Men

This is a continuation of a conversation that I (somewhat rudely) initiated, in response to a passing remark within dfleister's recent FanPost. I'll begin by responding to a post that Rip Jersey had left for me in that comment section, about 'momentum' changing like the weather (as it often does), while he then tried passing off its legitimacy altogether, sort of as a figment of the imagination of the fandom and press. Finally, I hope to tie in my response to him, with the intentions of my original question that started this entire fiasco. In the end leaving the conversation open and welcome to everyone (and most importantly showing more respect to dfleister's hard work).

Let's put common perceptions and misconceptions of momentum aside for just a moment. Yes, the perceptions are what got us started here. But what about the actual momentum experienced by people who partake in a highly coreographed group effort; in competition with various other groups? It doesn't matter whether fans or media get carried away, or jump to conclusions. Momentum exists in the game of football. Sometimes physical, other times emotional. There are obviously times where momentum plays a role, one way or another.

I don't believe that momentum is limited exclusively to whatever came before (as Rip Jersey alluded to), though yes, the past definitely plays its role in the case of momentum in a football game, or a football season. Though there are events unfolding in the very present that directly affect the course of said momentum. In fact, wouldn't "moment" be the root of the word that we've been fussing about in the first place?

Yes, the moment always tends to be a huge deal within a competitive team effort. Even moreso, for a team effort that so highly values balance and contributions from every single member involved, as Texans football most certainly does. Add into that, the timing that this offense is so heavily predicated on, and momentum might even be all the more important to this particular brand of football. A brand of football, mind you, that is not traditionally native to these parts. More on that aspect later.

Now, when things were going so well, and the team was in fact executing to such an extent that they achieved a two month long winning streak: positive momentum was surely taking place. The players, coaches, and system, were all working together in such harmony; with the positive momentum (in this case) intensifiying, within the successful execution of the intended design.

I do believe that we were witnessing this team experiencing some long overdue (positive) emotional momentum, for what it's worth. Things were working correctly, which was in turn a huge lesson for the entire group as a whole. Confidence was building. Players and coaches were executing their roles with precision, and learning more and more about each other along the way: namely, how to work even more efficiently as a group; always attempting to move the operation forward. Success breeding success, if you will.

Then, of course, the Texans lose Matt Schaub to an injury in the closing moments of the Tampa win. The next week, Matt Leinart steps in. After a few early hiccups, the offense seemed to be to be humming right along, same as ever. Was Leinart an ideal contingency QB for Schaub's offense in the long run? We will probably never know. That's also a debate for another day. Ultimately, Matty Light showed some indecision, all at once failing to throw the ball away and suffering a nasty hit; his collarbone snapping like a twig. In steps the rookie, T.J. Yates. This was probably the moment our 2011 momentum shifted, for the better or for the worse. Not the Carolina loss. Not the Indy loss. Not even Albert Haybesworth bellyflopping onto Schaub's foot. No, the wind changed directions in our sails at the time of Leinart's injury, when Yates had suddenly become our go-to QB. The momentum, even the entire landscape that lay ahead, changed completely for us in that exact moment.

Since that time, Yates has had his flashes, looking so promising at times, actually playing very well thus far, under these most untimely of circumstances. Aside from being a highly inexperienced pro QB, he has such different inherent strengths and weaknesses, when compared to the prior two starting QBs. The weaknesses are what we'll focus on, for now: his inexperience... mainly his lack of timing initially (which is understandable and even expected) and the ability to process info quickly or ideally, plus how he reacts to said info (remeber that he's but a few months removed from amateur status... student athelete moreso than a full time QB).

There are other issues, like a small hitch in his throwing motion, for example. But that can be more easily remedied, or even ignored for now, if necessary. Professional quarterbacks have an inordinate amount of responsibilities, considering that this is just men playing a game. And no matter who we would have brought in at that point, the player was going to have to cash course through numerous issues, veteran QB or otherwise. At least the kid had been part of the team foracouple of months already, up to that point. Which counts for plenty. But the first step, naturally, was attempting to minimize his more obvious issues, as well as any potential for other issues in any regard.

Now, I've wrestled with the outcomes of the Texans past two contests just like anyone else. Though, I'm not merely concerning myself with the final scoreboard outcomes at this point, but rather, everything in between the whistles that contributed to the final score. To where this team's execution has led them recently, and where it will be leading them, into the Bud Adams Homecoming Weekend, and much more importantly: into their first playoff game and (hopefully) beyond.

Think big picture with me for just a second. We're speaking of the Texans momentum. Of where it's been, where it might lie today, and of where we'll be -the playoffs- once we'll truly need it.

So the recent gameplans were interesting, to say the very least. Quite fascinating, actually, when we stop to consider that a first round bye had remained at stake. Why did Kubiak seemingly revert back to his infamous, prior form so quickly? Was he holding strategy back for the playoffs, at the risk of instant gratification and a higher seed? Protecting the psyche of his young quarterback, and the stamina and health of his team, especially the offensive line and defense (not that it seems to have worked so well for the latter)? Does he have something devious further up his sleeve, with his finger on the pulse and in control of his team, and its momentum? Or perhaps the man is just hopelessly stupid?

[Sigh] Am I willing to concede that Koobs and Company might have simply laid an egg against Carolina and Indy? Definitely. Everyone makes mistakes, and has off days. Lord knows Kubiak and his squad have had plenty of those. That doesn't have to condemn them to a future 'off day' (credit goes to Rip for the weather momentum analogy). Maybe there's something more, within the current plan of action? Maybe there was the aformentioned grand plan that sacrifces something today, with the intention of momentum for playoff successes later? I hope so, and in fact, it's entirely plausible. My opinion happens to be that it was in our best interests that we just get there as healthy and rested as possible, trumping any other detail, even the chance at homefield or a bye. Try to win, sure, but try to survive until the dance begins for real.

What say you armchair head coaches and GMs out there? How would you have handled the team, and Yates, in this predicament, with one eye undeniably looking forward to the playoffs? That's what I'm curious about, here. This is such an intelligent, opinionated community. I love bringing my hard headed self over to these boards, only to have my opinion swayed, or to learn something of ineterst when I least expected it.

Now, while I can admit the prior losses might have been simply a case of bad gameplanning, or even concede that the credit belongs to Carolina and Indy, there could have beenn more than met the eye, initially. Then again, we must all recognize that suspicious looking brand of football we've seen from the team these last two weeks, correct? Suddely resembling Kubiak's Texans teams of yesteryear, with the unconventional and even downright casual looking ineptitude of vanilla playcalling and goofy game management. Ya know, where the path towards winning/losing seems to be seperated only by a miniscule hair. A 50/50 chance. A coin flip. Not sure where I've heard such a similar quip before, but it does sound familiar, and it also rings true... on the surface. So I'll run with it. For now...

This team team of the last two weeks, hell, of the past four weeks, was akin to the kind of passive, unconventional, and even gentle football design, seemingly even blatantly obvious in its appearance, as if they were attempting to tip their own hand. A brand of ball that has certainly driven our historically football-proud natives completely mad, throughout these six long years under the Konserviak regime. Said regime has been the first extended taste of a "Bill Walsh W.C.O." for many of us, here in the region. And yes, our discomfort has been vocal and growing. One must take into account the type of football we've been raised on: straightforward and aggressive; where speed and strength were the Alpha and Omega when it came to gridiron success. Whereas the type of football we've been forced to endure during the mediocre Kubiak years, implemented and stressed deception, precision, and [gasp] subtelty. So many of us have been ready to purge our fledgling expansion operation of all things Kuber, almost from the beginning, for these basic reasons alone.

Sure. It can be natural to fear what is different.

Admittedly, I'm a reformed Denver Broncos fan, myself. One who eventually fell in love with the little expansion team in my own backyard. But I have been down this road before, with Koobs, as well as this particular brand of football. I've witnessed and endured some "rocky roads" before, only to eventually find out how the ultimate destination feels (as a fan, anyway). And I've witnessed my friends in Houston suffer plenty over the years. I've suffered right along with them, yes with the old Houston Oilers (I had season tickets at the Dome in '93), and more recently with the boys in battle red, southpaw white, and deep metallic bleu. So, you'll forgive me whenever I have sudden, unexpected, even irrational fits of optimism sprinkled within my trademark sarcasm (and even cynicsm). I'll definitely try to forgive everyone when they're ready to pull out the pitchforks back out, tirelessly deciding yet again to blow up the entire operation, and start over from scratch, to claim that it's "high time" for us to move in a different direction. Actually, this blog almost had me talked into buying into that completely, at the conclusion of last season!

Of course, what I secretly wanted, was to see things through to the bitter end, if at all possible. Call it a hunch I'd had, about this "dumb Aggie" Kubes and the operation he'd built in his own hometown. And, sure, I also wanted to leave the whining, pettiness, and vanity to a certain team and fanbase 200 miles to the north, on Interstate 45. We are the true Texans representing the NFL. We persevere and hold onto our optimism until the the very end. As Texans, we're all perfectly content in doing that!

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