The headline in today's Chronicle said it all..a big step backward. I probably would have replaced "big" with "huge," "monstrous," or "Texas-sized," but I tend to overreact to the magnitude of sporting events. Given Saturday's happenings, I wasn't exactly in a mood for optimism when I woke up on Sunday. And after watching these supposedly "new" Texans lay a colossal egg in Atlanta, I was ready to hang myself by my shoelaces. Except I didn't have any shoes near me, having thrown them at the television when (a) The Schaub's 3 yard TD pass was brought back because of holding by Ephraim Salaam and (b) Kris Brown shanked a 25 yard FG. The latter play caused me to slip into a fifteen second stream of profanity that likely made those around me think I had Tourette's.
That said, we need to keep the loss, as wretched as it undoubtedly was, in perspective. It's only one game. The Texans were riddled with injuries. Before the season began, had you told the vast majority of NFL fans that your Texans would be .500 after the first four (4) games, you would likely have been dismissed as a fool. Not around BRB, mind you, but nationally...there wasn't widespread belief that the Texans were anywhere close to legit. Notwithstanding yesterday's pathetic result, the Texans are legit; a threat to win every time they take the field. So there is a silver lining.
Feel better? Me neither. Yesterday's game sucked. My observations:
- Petey Faggins' play was abominable, amiss, atrocious, awful, bad news, beastly, careless, cheap, cheesy, crappy, cruddy, crummy, defective, deficient, detrimental, dissatisfactory, dreadful, erroneous, fallacious, faulty, garbage, god-awful, gross, grungy, hurtful, icky, imperfect, inadequate, incorrect, inferior, injurious, junky, lousy, not good, off, poor, raunchy, rough, ruinous, sad, scuzzy, sleazy, slipshod, stinking, substandard, synthetic, the pits, unacceptable, and/or unsatisfactory. Because "bad" doesn't do his performance justice. Thank you, Thesaurus.com.
- Nice call on benching Petey, Richard Smith and/or Jon Hoke. Some would argue it was akin to slapping a band-aid on a shotgun wound to the gut, but hey--better late than never. I salute you for tumbling to something that others have been trumpeting for months.
- As bad as Petey is, that's how good Dunta Robinson is. I thought I saw Heaven when he blocked that FG.
- Von Hutchins finished with a solid seven (7) tackles. He got abused by Michael Jenkins on one of those TD catches, but I'll still take him on balance.
- C.C. Brown, however, played "well" enough to warrant Will Demps and/or Michael Boulware getting extra snaps with the first team defense this week.
- Once again, the Texans run defense was awesome--a mere 90 yards (on 30 carries) yielded. Of course, given the success Joey Freaking Harrington had through the air, who needs to run?
- Speaking of Harrington--he looked like he should be in Honolulu come February. Roll that around in your head for awhile. After you inevitably honk, make sure to brush your teeth.
- Amobi Okoye (4 sacks thus far) continues to look like a bust. Kind of like how David Carr looks like a Pro Bowler.
- DeMeco--another six (6) tackles, a sack, and a cool sack/tackle dance that sees him pretend to kick something. I'm pretty sure I'm going to tear a hamstring imitating that move the next time Coors Light is on sale at Kroger's.
- Morlon Greenwood quietly finished with eleven (11) tackles. Perhaps he should have been playing CB.
- I can't remember the last time the Texans had so many stupid penalties, though they tapered off in the second half. Well, at least until the refs caught Ephraim Salaam attempting to put John Abraham into a sleeper hold, which in turn negated The Schaub's three-yard TD pass to Kevin Walter. That little ditty made me punch a wall, but credit to Salaam--he 'fessed up and was harder on himself than any of us could be:
"I let a guy (Abraham) get in my head, and it hurt us. I have to play better, and I will. I can't let my teammates down again."
- Dexter Wynn did a fine job filling in on kickoff returns. He was one of the few bright spots on special teams. I'm looking at you, Kris Brown. You know you played poorly when the distance at which you, a professional kicker, missed is the same distance a fan kicks from to win a year's supply of Dr. Pepper.
- Apostrophe Davis--wow. An amazing TD catch was included in that HUGE 117 yard receiving day. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that he's secured himself a spot in the WR rotation, even when 'Dre and Jacoby return.
- Very solid, albeit quiet, effort from Kevin Walter (6 catches for 77 yards). He still hasn't shown that he's a true No. 2, but he stepped up big yesterday.
- Owen Daniels may be the most indispensable part of The Schaub's options at WR/TE. He's quickly becoming a surefire six (6) catch, fifty (50) yard contributor every game.
- Whither Jeb Putzier? With all the injuries at WR, I really thought we'd see a lot of him yesterday in two TE sets.
- His 25 yard run notwithstanding, Ron Dayne looked like a guy who is on his third NFL team for a reason. For someone whose specialty is running between the tackles and picking up the tough yards, he performed very poorly. He's supposed to be a RB who will pick up the first down on 3rd and 2 and/or 3rd and 1. Dayne didn't do that. And that pitch on 3rd and 1? I have no idea why that was even called, but that's no excuse for Dayne fumbling the ball like Billy Bob in Varsity Blues.
- The Schaub played his guts out. He made one throw across his body into a group of defenders that gave me a Zoolander flashback, but it thankfully fell incomplete. All in all, however, he seemed like the only Texan on offense (aside from Apostrophe Davis) whose motor was in high gear the entire game. In short, The Schaub continues to make the kind of plays that no QB ever made for Houston. Because of him, the Texans had a chance to win a game they didn't deserve to win (at least until K. Brown shanked the FG, anyway).
- I believe in Gary Kubiak. But some of his calls yesterday left me scratching my head. The aforementioned pitch to Dayne on 3rd and 1? And settling for the FG at the ATL 1 at the beginning of the 4th quarter? Sheesh. RUN THE BALL STRAIGHT AHEAD AND GET IN THE ENDZONE. And what about the refusal to blitz until the last stand of the fourth quarter? You've got Joey Harrington under center, for chrissakes! You've got five (5) years of film that says he folds under pressure! And yet you refuse to commit anything more than the standard four-man push to the backfield? I'm no football coach, but I can't wrap my mind around the justification for those decisions.
- The last play of the game pretty much summed up the myriad mistakes made by the Texans throughout the day. Eight seconds left (which, by the way, should have been 22 seconds; no one with the Texans apparently noticed the clock was never reset to 2:30 like it should have been immediately after Petrino's challenge). No timeouts left. Short pass to Jameel Cook, who proceeds to turn toward the middle of the field and trot for a few seconds before being brought down. Clock is now at zero, and the game is over. It's not like the Texans were going to win the game at that point, yet that complete and total lack of understanding of the game situation speaks volumes as to what was wrong with the team yesterday. Nothing that can't be fixed, and the Texans are better than that.
- Fake Game Balls: Offense--Apostrophe Davis. Defense--DeMeco Ryans. Special Teams: Dexter Wynn.
The good news is that the Texans return to the friendly confines of Reliant Stadium to host the Dolphins on Sunday. The bad news is that the Dolphins are in much the same boat as the Falcons were--winless, desperate, and looking to get well against a team decimated by injuries. Let's see if the Texans can avoid being the elixir for all that ails the NFL this time around.