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Post-Game Breakdown: Five Up, Five Down

Go ahead.  Take it all in.  Your Houston Texans are at .500 ten (10) games into the season for the first time in franchise history.  Despite a mind-boggling spate of injuries, setbacks, and general mockery that's spewed about the red-headed expansion child of the NFL, there are currently fourteen (14) teams that sport records inferior to your Houston Texans.  As we've said many times in this space, savoring middle-of-the-pack status is probably foreign to bandwagon fans of the Patriots, Colts, and/or (crap) Cowboys; the folks who have followed those teams, or any team, for years, however, can certainly remember what it was like when four (4) wins in a season were more likely than four (4) losses.

Two (2) years ago, Houston had two (2) wins in an entire season.  Last year, Houston tripled that total to six (6).  And now, with six (6) more games to play, the Texans have already reached five (5) wins.  We're getting there.  Playoffs?  Probably not this season (though your hometown team just might make it interesting).  But respectability?  Well, if it hasn't already arrived, I feel confident that it's coming by the time the Texans wrap up that game against Jacksonville on 12/30/07.  Today, let's revel in the fact that the Texans (and by extension, their fans) are somewhere they've never been before.  Today, it's enough that your team just handily defeated last year's NFC Runner-Up and NFC South champion.  If nothing else, let's all take solace in the fact that this asinine commercial looks even dumber today than it did on Saturday.  So without further pontificiation, let's review yesterday's game:

    1.  True story:  Immediately before The Schaub and Andre Johnson emphatically announced their glorious return, the following exchange took place between my buddy and I:

Me:  What Jason David lined up in single coverage against Andre Freaking Johnson?
Buddy:  Let me see...uhhh, yes.
Me:  Well, that's probably not going to work out for...
(Ball is snapped)
Me:  Holy $&*@!  There's no safety help!  He's got him!  He's got him!
(Pandemonium ensues)

  1.  Andre Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL.  You cannot convince me otherwise.  Call me a homer.  Or a visionary.  Given my eerily prescient thoughts posted three days before the game, I prefer the latter.
  2.  Final 'Dre Point:  The roof almost blew off of Reliant when he was introduced in pre-game introductions.  Awesome moment.
  3.  The Schaub is back, baby!  As we saw in the Kansas City and Carolina games, he can make all the throws and possesses an uncanny pocket presence when he's given the time to make his reads.  Even when he doesn't have the time (which occurred very rarely on Sunday), the guy is fast and strong enough to buy himself extra time to (1) make a play or (2) get rid of the ball.  And that TD pass to Joel Dreessen in the back of the end zone?  I think you can count on one, maybe two, hands the number of NFL QBs who can make that throw.
  4.  As I alluded to in the previous point, Matt Schaub was hardly touched all day.  The pass blocking by the OL yesterday was as good as we've seen all year.
  5.  The run blocking wasn't too shabby either.  While Ron Dayne's YPC was surely inflated by his twenty (20) yard scamper, let's remember what Ron Dayne does:  He bulls ahead at 3.0 yards a clip.  The line let him do his thing, and the clock ticked.  Combined with Schaub's play, that was enough for us to establish an effective running game, which in turn kept the ball out of Drew Brees' hands.  I call that a success.
  6.  Nearly 24 hours later, I still do not think Owen Daniels fumbled.  But once it was called a fumble on the field, there simply wasn't a replay angle definitive enough to overturn the call.
  7.  Again, I'm in danger of being a homer here.  But how many TEs would you rather have than Owen Daniels?  Before you answer that, remember that he played with a broken effing nose for 75% of yesterday's game. answer.  None, right?
  8.  One carry.  One fumble.  Please, Joe...I don't relish having to incorporate an "Echemandu is Nigerian for fumble" joke into my schtick.
  9.  Apostrophe Davis was silent nearly the entire game, as you had to figure he probably would be with 'Dre's return.  But that 21 yard reception he notched to set up the Dreessen TD was monstrous.
  10.  The most glaring possible negative consequence of Andre Johnson's return could be Kevin Walter once again disappearing into the woodwork.  Please, Kubes/Sherman/Schaub--don't let that happen.
  11.  I really, really want Jacoby Jones to break a punt return.  Remember the preseason, when he was doing it as a matter of course?  He can do it again.  I know this.
  12.  Nice to see that you exercised your punting demons during the bye week, Matt Turk.  Your cult status is hereby restored.
  13.  Look at Kris Brown's numbers this season.  Adam Vina-who?
  14.  Thanks for the help, Eric Johnson.  I still think the Texans win this game without your assistance, but it's nice to finally be on the receiving end of those gaffes instead of providing them.
  15.  He's got as much chance of going to the Pro Bowl as I do, but I'm going to say it:  Morlon Greenwood deserves serious consideration for All-Pro honors.  He's always going to be second fiddle to DeMeco Ryans (who had another 10 tackles yesterday), so he may never get the recognition he deserves.  I'll be damned, however, if he doesn't get his props here though.  Morlon to Honolulu!
  16.  Your Houston Texans' secondary was simply awesome yesterday.  They completely exceeded all expectations I had.  Von Hutchins made a pretty smooth transition back to CB.  Will Demps was a revelation at FS.  C.C. Brown turned in what may have been his best game of the season.  And Fred  I'm getting light headed just thinking about him stopping Brees on 4th and 2 to effectively put the game away.  The league should pray that they don't have to deal with a healthy Dunta/Bennett tandem next season.
  17.  Petey Faggins seems to have been relegated to dime back, with Dexter Wynn getting the nod at nickel.  The coaching staff might be a bit slow on the uptake, but heck...eventually, they get it.  At this rate, we should expect Richard Smith to discover the blitz in Week Five of the 2009 season.
  18.  As stunningly good as the Houston secondary played, I would be befuddled/enraged if I was a Saints fan.  You're facing a patchwork secondary.  You have a great QB in Drew Brees.  You have a dangerous deep threat in Marques Colston.  Yet you craft a game plan that seems to be almost entirely comprised of short passes?  Can someone explain that to me?
  19.  Contrary to popular opinion, Mario Williams does not suck.  He is not a bust.  He is not the worst No. 1 pick in the history of sport.  He is, in fact, fit to step foot on a football field.  Because when he does, he has the ability to single-handedly affect the performance of the opposing offense.  I'm going to end this point with this unequivocal equation:  Super Mario > Reggie Bush.  Let us never debate this again.
  20.  On second thought, I'm not finished with this yet.  It's inherently flawed to measure a DE's performance against that of a RB.  They rarely encounter each other, and the requirements of their respective positions are very different.  It's not apples to apples.  Yet anyone who watched yesterday's game and still thinks that the Texans should have selected Reggie Bush over Mario Williams should never, ever share that opinion with anyone, lest the listener quickly realize that the speaker does not actually understand that there may be more to personnel analysis than jersey sales and/or SportsCenter highlights.
  21.  Fake Game Balls--Offense:  Owen Daniels.  Defense:  Mario Williams.  Special Teams:  Kris Brown.
On to Cleveland, where perhaps the most surprising team in the league is legitimately in the playoff hunt.  Your Houston Texans have shown that they can win on the road, and they're coming off an inspirational win.  Can they make it three (3) victories in a row?  They certainly won't be favored to do so.  But after yesterday, how can you bet against them?