Rivers' exquisitely crafted note of gratitude to Wade Phillips gave us an idea. For the next several days, we'll periodically be posting entries thanking various people who had a hand in making the Texans' 2011 season as enjoyable as it was. The season's over, which blows, but there's a lot to appreciate, and it's a loooooong offseason, so let's do take a minute to say thank you.
It would be fair to say that I was not a fan of your Houston Texans drafting Brian Cushing in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft:
Well, I hate this pick more than any other pick Smithiak has ever made. I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. I hate life.
Vent as you see fit. I'm going to be catatonic until the second round.
Like many others, I questioned whether Brian Cushing was fool's gold, an artificially enhanced lunatic whose skill set would not justify his first-round selection.
Then Cushing went and had a historic rookie campaign. I thought it wasn't possible for him to play any better than he did in 2009. Cushing's 2010 got off to a rather ignominious start, and when Cushing did take the field in Week Five, he didn't look anything like the player he'd been a year before. Oddly enough, I found myself hoping that I was wrong about Cushing, that the 2010 season, not the 2009 season, was the mirage.
Shocker...I was wrong. Sort of. While 2010 was most definitely a mirage, 2009 may have been an illusion as well. Why? Because the season Brian Cushing just completed in 2011 blew what he did in 2009 away.
Cushing's stats only begin to tell the story of the kind of impact he had on your Houston Texans in '11. Quite simply, he was a monster. He took to Wade Phillips' scheme like a duck to water. While Johnathan Joseph may have been the most important player on Houston's defense, Brian Cushing was consistently the best player on the Texans' defense.
Reasonable minds can debate who is currently the best linebacker in the NFL, but if you've got Cushing behind anyone but Patrick Willis, I'd argue you've got him far too low. Me? I'm a Texans fan and admittedly biased. I don't think any LB was better than Brain Crushing in 2011.
To top it all off, Cushing gave us this segment, which will be forever immortalized in Texans' lore and quite definitively demonstrates that he's certifiable. And I mean that as a sincere compliment.
Thus, I say, here's to Brian Cushing. The 2011 Houston Texans would not have made history, or mayhem, without him.