Now, before y'all go and get your collective panties into a whitey-tighty, skid-mark stained wad (with papabear's laciest g-string somehow mixed in), there will be a Top 5 Reasons to Be Optimistic post. So DMY, KWIM?
To say that, on paper, our off-season has been a sea of good news, free sex and alcohol is an understatement. The defense has been clearly revamped, and the offense is almost entirely intact. However, this team has to prove its mettle on the battlefield, and we've been teased by the Texans before like that girl (or guy) in history class. Remember her (him)? That's right, we all do. We also started 2-0 last year. Jump with me, little 'uns, as we take a look.
In reverse order, we'll start with:
#5: Culture of Failure: How many hundreds of comments and FanPosts were there about the team not acting or taking the initiative? Oh, I'm sorry, it was in the thousands? My bad.
Sadly, one could make a valid argument justifying the pessimism. After 723 years of not making the playoffs (or so it seems), your Houston Texans have taken on a Culture of Failure. Sure, there was that year we went 9-7. And 8-8! Remember that? Oh, those were the halcyon days.
Most interestingly, the team has proven it can win tough games. After all, who can forget these classics? But this team has found new and unusual ways to lose time and time again (no, no links). The Texans need to beat their Culture of Failure into a 5-TE set, bleach chugging dead horse that never, ever resurrects (like beefy's crabs). There are some great reasons we can kick the Culture of Failure habit.
#4: NT: Speaking of dead horses, my #nosetacklelust continues to be as insatiated as my wife's sexual needs. I've gone on and on (and on and on and on) about my intense dislike of Shaun Cody and Bill Kollar, so I won't be rehashing the unpleasantness, lest I go completely insane. Alas, the lack of quality play in the middle of our defensive line has been yet another leitmotif, so to speak, in the franchise's history.
Not that there's a lot of pressure on Earl Mitchell, but he is the only player currently on the roster capable of stepping up and making plays at NT. No longer can the middle of our defensive line simultaneously both resemble a turnstile and those old troughs in the men's room in the Astrodome. Part of the reason to be so concerned is...
#3: ILBs: Antwan Odom was released by the
Bungles Bengals this week after Odom proved, in part, incapable of returning from his Achilles tear. In an outstanding post, DreKeem talked about the catastrophic impacts of Achilles tears on NFL players.
And it's not like my beloved DeMeco Ryans was looking all that great before the injury, either. Even before the Chiefs game, Ryans did not look like the same player. He consistently looked a step or two slower to the ball/ball-carrier, which PFF verifies with its poor grades and huge number of missed tackles "credited" to Cap'n 'Meco. Of course, Frank Bush's execrable Battle Red Carpet Zone played a part in DeMeco's slump, but how much was because of DeMeco? And how much impact will his injury have? For the record, I'll say I'm not optimistic about the situation.
Brian Cushing didn't get hurt last year, but he still managed to miss four games after being suspended for suspected performance enhancing drug use. When he returned, Cushing's performance was all but enhanced. Not unlike DeMeco, Cushing seemed to have lost all explosiveness. Aside from the two games against the BE-SFs, Cushing was absolutely atrocious.
That said, it was a bit much to expect Cushing to play to his monumental 2009 levels, but Cushing was still a different player, oft times looking ineffective, if not downright lost (especially once he took over for 'Meco at MLB after the latter was injured.
'Meco and Cushing have a lot to prove, and aside from Darryl Sharpton, there's little depth in the middle. I would've preferred we addressed the problem earlier in free agency, and the front office will have to add players to the roster regardless. Sharpton looked pretty decent at times last year, though he needs a ton of work in coverage.
#2: CB2: Kareem Jackson and Jason Allen. Wow. It's like choosing between lethal injection and a firing squad. There's little chance we sign yet another CB, so we're going to dance with these two. I reviewed these guys way back when, and I have little to add to it at this juncture. We added one CB in Johnathan Joseph, and signing Danieal Manning and moving Glover Quin to S will help our pass defense a tremendous amount. Kareem is young, and there's no way he can be that poor again. Finally, I'm hopeful the removal of David Gibbs as secondary coach, by itself, is yet more addition by subtraction.
Allen or Jackson need to step up and prove to be capable of playing at least below-average CB. We simply cannot afford these guys to "ole" opposing wide receivers into the end zone as was so common in 2010.
#1: Gary Kubiak: Hasn't anybody bought the man an XBOX 360 and copy of Madden yet? Maybe we should invite him to the tournament?
To his credit, Kubiak won a couple of challenges last year. HUZZAH! Punting on 4th and 4 on Washington's 34? GAG!
Kubiak has evolved as a head coach. He has grown and improved. Not unlike Kareem Jackson, though, he can do much more. Expectations should be extremely high for him this year. The team is giving him the pieces he needs to succeed. No more excuses. Win or join Frank Bush in Methopotamia (because I can think of no worse punishment).
THE NEXT POST WILL BE ABOUT WHY I'M OPTIMISTIC. REALLY. ALL CAPS!