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Post-Game Breakdown: Disturbing Developments (Or Lack Thereof)

One of these days, your Houston Texans are going to beat the Titans.  Wait a second, you say...the Texans have defeated Bud Adams' minions before.  Technically, you're correct.  They've been on the right side of the final score twice.  In twelve (12) tries.  For all of the noise we hear about how the Texans hadn't beaten the Colts (until last Christmas Eve, anyway), the hometown team is only incrementally more successful against Tennessee.  In fact, when you think about it, the only division rival that the Texans have had any semblance of success against is the Jags.  And I don't know about you, but the memory of our first tussle with Jacksonville this season doesn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Fact:  Your Houston Texans are staring in the face of an 0-6 record in their division this season.  After they posted a 3-3 record in the AFC South last season, that's cause for real concern.  Now, I'm not about to say that last year's team was better than this year's version.  It wasn't, at least not under any objective analysis that I can fathom.  The 2007 Houston Texans are markedly more talented than the 2006 Houston Texans.  But the undeniable fact that it's entirely feasible for the team to go from three (3) division wins to zero (0) division wins in a year is frightening.  If this year's team is better than last year's edition, why don't the AFC South standings reflect it?

Any examination has to begin with the absolutely absurd amount of injuries the Texans have suffered this year.  They currently have sixteen (16) players on Injured Reserve, which is tops in the league.  I was talking with a friend of mine, who's a bit of a football nerd, and theorized that no team in NFL history has been struck by this sort of injury plague.  The only team that he could come up with that rivaled the 2007 Texans was the 2005 Steelers, who, as we all know, went on to win the Super Bowl.  And therein lies a great point:  Injuries aren't an excuse for the lack of movement in the standings.  Are they a factor?  Sure.  But are they the entire explanation for why the Texans are sitting at 0-4 in the division?  No way.

So why have the Texans taken a nosedive in the AFC South standings?  I wish I had an answer.  Is it coaching?  Is it a lack of focus by the players?  Is it just bad luck?  I don't know.  I only know that this team, as much of an improvement as it is over last year's team, should not be wrestling with the very real possibility of going winless in the AFC South, no matter how good the division is.

On to my thoughts from Sunday's loss:

  1.  I am officially concerned about the fragility, perceived or actual, of Matt Schaub.  By my calculations, he's approximately seventy-four times (74x) the QB his predecessor was, yet he has shown considerably less ability to bounce up after a jarring hit.  Again...just bad luck?  Or a chronic issue?  Time will tell, though it looks like there's little chance he plays this week.  At this point, let's just cross our fingers and hope he makes it back out there before the season ends.
  2.  As the noted philosophers/hair metal band Cinderella once said, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.  After watching Fred Weary go down, and then Chris White go down, I think we know what we've got.  And what we've got is Kasey Studdard coming off a pretty poor showing in his first real action of the season.  Still, the guy's a rookie, so there's no need to freak out.  Whether Studdard or the recently elevated Mike Brisiel gets the starting nod on Sunday, Mike Flanagan has his work cut out for him.
  3.  Ron Dayne absolutely DOMINATED on the first drive of the game.  So why did he only have five (5) carries in the second half?  I'd chalk that up to ankle injury, but he was still getting carries, no matter how sparse, into the fourth quarter.  Thus, I'm flummoxed.  Did Mike Sherman let Dennis Franchione moonlight as Texans OC in the second half?
  4.  Owen Daniels seemed to get his groove back.
  5.  Kevin Walter is a beast.  It probably didn't show up on TV, but there was one play where Daniels caught a pass near the sideline and K-Dub blocked not one, but two (2), Titans to allow OD to pick up another two or three yards.  When we look back on this season, doesn't K-Dub's emergence have to rank as one of the best things to happen to this team?
  6.  As money as his TD catch was, the three (3) straight completions to Andre Johnson in the second quarter are, in my book, the best example of how freakishly valuable 'Dre is.  In light of that, I really don't understand the repeated refusal to call his number on big third or fourth down plays.
  7.  I thought Sage Rosenfels played reasonably well in relief of The Schaub.  Not great (terrible INT, for example), but well.  And if someone can tell me what the hell he was thinking when he scrambled to the middle of the field with no timeouts and approximately ten (10) seconds left in the game with his team trailing by eight (8) points, I'd love to be enlightened.
  8.  I clearly don't understand football, because I thought the repeated decision to split Vonta Effing Leach out wide was the most ridiculous thing I've seen since "Steel Magnolias."  Side Note:  I was dragged to that movie by my mother when I was a kid.  After I hysterically laughed during each of Julia Roberts' seizure bits, I haven't been back to the movies with my mother since.  You haven't lived until you've nearly incited a riot with untimely laughter and generally masculine inappropriate behavior.  End Side Note.  Seriously, what is gained by making your FB a decoy at WR?  Hell, he's not even a decoy, because no one with a pulse is buying him as an option in the vertical passing game.
  9.  Mario Williams notched another 2.5 sacks.  I'm sure the more skeptical among us will point out that they were more likely than not the result of good coverage down the field.  You know what?  Peddle it somewhere else.  2.5 sacks is 2.5 sacks.  It's not like Vince Young and Super Mario were recreating the abomoniable Michael Strahan-Brett Favre sack that allowed Strahan to capture the single-season sack record.  And regardless of your bias, Super Mario was the only Texan who was a consistent presence in the backfield all afternoon.
  10.  For the record, that's 8.5 sacks.  With four (4) games to go.  If you're not already, get on the Super Mario bandwagon.  We'll make room for you.
  11.  With the money he's making and the talent he's got on the line with him, Anthony Weaver should be contributing a whole lot more than he is.
  12.  The sun rises.  DeMeco Ryans gets fourteen (14) tackles.  The sun sets.  These are universal truths.
  13.  Nice to see Charlie Anderson lighting some people up.  He almost made me forget that Danny Clark wasn't out there.
  14.  Will Demps had twelve (12) tackles?  I had no idea.  I will say, however, that he was consistently good in run support and the short passing game.  He looks to be a sizable upgrade at one of the safety spots.  Speaking of safeties...
  15.  I don't think game-altering penalties were what Rick Smith had in mind when he traded for Michael Boulware.  But that's about all he's gotten, particularly because Boulware, who once started on a Super Bowl team, can't find a way to crack the safety rotation.
  16.  From Nowhere to Somewhere to the Injured List to the Doghouse:  The Jacoby Jones Story.  His fumble changed the game.      
  17.  We can all take our shots at VY the NFL QB, but he played a nearly flawless game.  That horrible INT to Fred Bennett aside, he looked completely legit.  It's obvious how much he's trying to shake the "run-first" demons, too; every time he thought about running, he took an extra second to assess his options down the field, which in turn deflated the LP Field faithful.  You could actually hear them get excited when VY would move in the pocket, only to moan when he didn't take off.  You can't have it both ways, Tennessee fans.
  18.  Speaking of Bennett--he had great coverage on Roydell Williams on that TD catch.  He just turned the wrong way.  If he turns to his right instead of his left, it's a pick.
  19.  Von Hutchins, on the other hand, did not have such good coverage on the Justin Gage TD.  Too easy.
  20.  What happened to the Houston run defense of the first three (3) weeks?  5.3 YPC ain't gonna cut it against the Bucs, fellas.
  21.  Blitzing the QB is still illegal in every jurisdiction in which the Texans play, though Richard Smith did see fit to break the law a time or three (3) in Nashville.  I'm sure he's at church right now begging for forgiveness.
  22.  Fake Game Balls:  Offense--Andre Johnson.  Defense--Mario Williams.  Special Teams--Matt Turk.
  23.  I'll close with two (2) final things.  As readers of BRB can tell, I do my best to post without swearing.  I don't always succeed, but I try.  Indeed, I do a much better job here than I do in my actual life, where I rarely go more than a few sentences without dropping a curse word.  But I have something to say in response to this:
"Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth doesn't think much of the Texans' Matt Schaub as a quarterback, but he's a Sage Rosenfels fan.

Schaub was knocked out of the first game against the Titans. He was knocked out again in Sunday's 28-20 Texans loss with a dislocated left shoulder.

'I think he's just scared of us," Haynesworth said after the game. "Maybe next year he won't play against us; he'll just sit that game out.'

In three games against the Titans, Rosenfels has thrown eight touchdown passes -- three last season, four in the first game this season and one Sunday.

'We were determined not to let (Rosenfels) get started and all that,' Haynesworth said, 'but he still made some good plays. It's just too bad he didn't get that $60 million.'

Schaub signed a six-year deal worth $48 million, but only $7 million is guaranteed."


24.  Last story...I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Sunday's game in Nashville with four (4) of my buddies, including the Kaiser Soze of BRB, Scott.  As you can imagine, the game didn't go as we'd hoped.  It wasn't all bad, however.  The Hall of Fame presented Oiler Bruce Matthews with his ring at halftime, which necessarily meant that Enemy of the State Bud Adams spoke.  Or, rather, he stuttered and garbled.  Which would have been kind of sad to see from such an old man, if he hadn't given the City of Houston the equivalent of a kick in the groin.  As such, my buddy Jay broke what was a fairly respectful silence with the following as Lucifer stammered and wheezed through his introduction of Matthews:


Now, our seats were damn near on the field, probably thirty (30) feet from Adams himself.  So I'm sure Bud heard us.  Even if he didn't, everyone in the surrounding sections sure did.  Which meant, of course, that everyone gave us fairly disgusted looks.  Fine by us, as we were all laughing too hard to care.  But Jay wasn't done yet; Bud was trying to say something about how great a player Matthews was and was having some difficulty doing so, leading to Jay yelling:


At this point, we were hysterical.  The rest of the game wasn't that funny, but halftime sure as hell was.  So while it might have been a loss for the Texans, it's safe to say that we won halftime.

Bring on the Bucs.  We've got a season to salvage!