Every Labor Day, my family and I take a vacation to a golf and beach resort. We started this tradition twelve years ago after my sister had a health scare, and we have continued unabated ever since. It's one of the most anticipated weekends of the year and is a way of reminding ourselves that despite the difficulties we all endure, we have a family that will always support each other.
Of course, if you know my family (which you don't), you know that it's not all rose petals and back rubs. The real backbone of the vacation is huge quantities of beer, excessive amounts of food, and never-ending smack talk around the daily 18. We even have our own mini Stanley Cup that gets passed around to the annual champion.
Early in the second round this past weekend, I stood in a green-side bunker with a four shot lead and felt pretty good about myself. That's when everything went horribly wrong. When my club hit the sand, pain shot through my spine, and I crumbled like Trent Green.
My shot at the trophy was done and I realized that despite being 33 years old, I have the back of an 87 year old woman who just got hit with a crowbar.
When I was finally able to think clearly, I was stunned at how closely my situation mirrored the Texans' 2010 season. High expectations were followed by a promising start which ultimately gave way to crushing pain and utter disappointment -- all wrapped in a "wait 'till next year" ribbon.
Well, the Texans' back pain is healed and next year is here, so it's time for another fun-filled projection post. We've all put out our schedule predictions, but what about other things? Hit the jump to see the future. I'm going to grab a heating pad and walking stick -- I'll meet you there in a few minutes.
Damn, that hurt. I will now identify various elements of the upcoming season that will surely come to pass. Question them at your own risk.
- The first proclamation of what will be is that Mario Williams will finish the year with 11.5 sacks, and those who called for him to be traded will conveniently forget such statements. In the last four years, Mario has ranged from 8 to 14 sacks, and while I don't predict a new career high, it's not because I don't feel he can thrive in this system. Instead, I feel that sacks will be more evenly distributed and we won't be as completely reliant on Super Mario as we have in the past.
- To follow that up, however, Mario will set a new career high in tackles as he crosses the sixty tackle mark for the first time in his career and finishes with 64. Everybody compares Williams' role to that of DeMarcus Ware; he has averaged just under 73 in the past four seasons, only once finishing with fewer than 60.
- Danieal Manning and Johnathan Joseph will combine for 8 interceptions this year. This would mean that either both of them will tie their career best, or one of them will set a new mark. Still, I feel that the pressure applied by the front 7+, paired with the fact the division now seems to be laden with quarterbacks that should make them salivate, means bad passes will be coming fast and furious.
- That will still be 8 more interceptions than Mario gets. I've heard a lot of chatter about Williams getting his first interception, but I just don't see it. He will not be dropping into coverage often, so the opportunities will be very limited.
- The Texans will enter the 2012 offseason with inside linebacker as the primary position of need. DeMeco Ryans, bless his heart, just won't be the same, and Brian Cushing will show that his rookie year was the exception rather than the norm. Darryl Sharpton will play a serviceable role, but the team will still be looking to upgrade next year.
- Offensively, Arian Foster will finish with 1,157 rushing yards. Some will call that a disappointment, but those people would be stupid. He'll miss two games to injury and be spelled more often by Ben Tate and Derrick Ward, but will finish with 4.6 yards per carry and 400 receiving yards. At 4.6 ypc, he would only need 250 carries to reach that mark, and last year he ran 327 times at a 4.9 clip. A step back, perhaps, but it would definitely be a successful season. He will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.
- That's right, I said the playoffs. The Texans will win the division with a 5-1 record. They will sweep the Colts and Titans and split with the Jags. No, I'm not comfortable with this level of optimism either, but even before you factor in the Peyton Manning issues, the division is noticeably weaker. Add some Vodka Collins to the mix, and now it may not seem so crazy.
- James Casey's fullback play will have people giddy. He won't have the crushing blocks that Leach had, but his blocking will be adequate and he'll feast on play action passes that call for him to drive up the middle, hit a linebacker, and then release for an easy completion. I will giggle every time I see it.
- The Texans' second most pressing need in the 2012 offseason will be wide receiver. Jacoby Jones will do little to prove his value. He'll make some great plays, but continue to be the most maddening player on the team, dropping no fewer than four touchdowns. The Texans will still be looking for someone to play opposite Andre and Walter.
- Some media a-hole will make mention of Schaub as injury-prone and I will completely blow a gasket. I don't remember where, but I heard this again recently, and I can't understand how the perception still stands.
- Gary Kubiak will cost us at least two games with some combination of time management, obscene loyalty, indefensible challenges, and maddening play calling. One will be the aforementioned Jaguars game, and the other will be against the Ravens.
- Somebody somewhere (most likely employed by the Comical) will call for Wade Phillips to take over for Kubiak, causing me to blow a second gasket. I will ultimately run out of gaskets and just steam constantly.
- The season will cause me to drink too much, curse too much, and force me to question if I wouldn't be happier gardening on Sundays. Still, in the end, your Houston Texans will finish with an 11-5 record and Tim will finally change his signature.