Didn't see that coming.
When I was a kid, I swore that when I grew up, I was going to be the starting shortstop for the Houston Astros. There was really no arguing the point with me, never mind that I was among the smallest kids in my elementary school. It wasn't even a matter of what I wanted to be. In my mind this was an irrefutable fact.
As I reached the wise old years of middle school, realization was starting to settle in that I was probably just not good enough for the majors. Fortunately, though, I now knew that after I made my first billion by the age of 30, I would at least own the team, so I could practice with the players, and still get to play here and there before settling into my suite with my supermodel wife.
Other items I've infamously (and wrongly) predicted are that the Oilers would win the 1994 Super Bowl, that I could drink 10 beers in an hour without puking, and that I would hit it with that girl at the end of the bar.
It's safe to say that I've never really been that good at predicting stuff. I know this. I understand this. I also don't care.
Earlier this season, I crafted this post predicting what would happen during the 2011 season. Armed with the aforementioned data, we should have known that it would have taken a minor miracle for any of these to turn out, but just for grins, let's see how I did.I should have predicted that you would hit the jump. Damn.
I'm also going to keep score of the accuracy of my predictions.
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.
Well, obviously Mario didn't have 11.5 sacks. He finished the season with 5 sacks in 5 games which, had he not been injured -- let's see... carry the one... -- means he was on pace for 16 sacks. It would have been something for him to keep that pace, but 11.5 might have been low. Let's keep this in mind as we debate his free agency status. The notion that the team wouldn't have been as reliant on Mario did prove true, however. Prediction Score: 0-1.
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.
Again, injury prevented Mario from finishing out the season, but he only had 10 tackles through those five games. That means he would have needed 54 tackles over the final 11 games, or just under 5 per game, to reach that mark. That's not out of the question, but he would have had to more than double his weekly output from those first five games. Prediction Score: 0-2.
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.
Hey, this one was actually pretty close. Joseph and Manning had 4 and 2 interceptions, respectively, and each one picked a pass in the post-season. The pressure from the front 7 was in fact a big factor in the improvement of the secondary, but the impact of these two free agent acquisitions cannot be overstated. So while I didn't specify in the original prediction that I was including the playoffs, since I'm the one keeping score, we're going to call this a win. Prediction Score: 1-2.
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.
Boom, tie game. Prediction Score: 2-2.
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.
I'm very happy to have gotten this one wrong. Cushing was a monster and while DeMeco wasn't quite his pre-injury self, he was more than serviceable. Sharpton was playing well before his injury and hopefully will come back healthy to provide depth. Prediction Score: 2-3.
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.
Foster finished with 1,224 rushing yards at a 4.4 ypc clip and 617 receiving yards (not including playoffs). He did this on 278 carries and missed two and a half games to injury. If we limit this to the regular season, you have to admit I was pretty close, but I guess if I included playoff stats for Joseph and Manning, I should here as well. Damn. Prediction Score: 2-4.
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.
Not far off. The Texans finished 4-2 in the division and 10-6 for the season. Had the team not completely crapped the bed at Indy, this would have been a win. Part of me still argues that that didn't happen, so I'm calling this good. Prediction Score: 3-4.
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
This one should have been right. Casey had two monster games, one good game, and was pretty much invisible the rest of the season. Part of that was due to injury and part due to the success of Vickers (as long as we're not asking him to catch a pass), but I still feel that Casey was underutilized in the passing game. I lose this one, but accept no responsibility whatsoever. Prediction Score: 3-5.
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.
Prior to the playoffs, one could have made the argument that Jacoby was having his best season yet -- and statistically, it was. Even one game into the playoffs, that argument could be made. Then the game against Baltimore happened. Some may say that it's unfair to make one game more important than the others. I say that's BS. That's just the way life is. As for Kevin Walter, he did about what was expected of him. The downside is that when Andre got hurt, he continued to do what was expected of him if Andre wasn't hurt. In other words, I think this prediction is wrong for one reason. This is the Texans' most pressing need. With Andre coming off two years of injuries and not getting any younger and Walter and Jacoby not likely to get better, the Texans need to find someone that can be a legitimate threat and that they can groom to be Andre's heir. Prediction Score: 3-6.
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.
Ugh. I guess this should be an accurate prediction, but I did not blow a gasket. Instead, I wept openly. Prediction Score: 3-7.
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.
Kubiak had his most solid and consistent year as head coach yet and the results prove it. Were there miscues? Of course, but overall I can't think of a single game that was lost as a direct result of Kubiak. Prediction Score: 3-8.
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.
Well, they did call for Wade to become a head coach. But lucky for us, that didn't work out. Prediction Score: 3-9.
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.
Aside from the record (10-6), this was dead on. I only wish I could have one more weekend of stress.
Final Prediction Score: 4-9