As mentioned in Part I, it's time to take a closer look at some of the individual performances from Sunday's win over the Dolphins. Let's get this show on the road, shall we?
1. Starting with The Schaub seems like the only way to go. I cannot be effusive enough in my praise when it comes to admiring the stones it took for him to lead that game-winning drive. I also cannot be critical enough when it comes to wincing in response to some of his throws/decisions. The first INT, I'm willing to forgive; he was hit as he threw, and the LB had to sky to get it. The second INT, on the other hand, was abysmal; it was a terrible decision to try to throw into double (triple?) coverage across the middle. It's simply inexcusable to throw that ball there. Schaub also got exceedingly lucky on a few other throws that probably should have been picked off. Bottom line is that The Schaub looked to be off all afternoon, made some horrific decisions, and won the game for his team. That's what the kids call the ultimate silver lining.
2. You hate seeing the hometown fans boo their QB, though I could understand their frustration. But chanting "We Want Sage!"? Have people really forgotten that quickly? You have to be kidding me.
3. Last word on The Schaub: We should be a bit careful about allowing the win to absolve him to the point of deification. He did not play well. Yes, he lead the team to a win, and that is the most important thing. Lest we get too gleeful about our QB, doesn't that sound a bit like the rationalization a certain fanbase has about their quarterback?
4. Say this for Kubes/Shanny The Younger (more on them later): They learned from the Jacksonville game when it comes to getting Andre Johnson involved. 'Dre is the best player on the entire team. He needs the ball in his hands as much as possible. This strategy is sound. In related news, water is wet.
5. Did anyone else feel like they had just seen someone punt a kitten when 'Dre fumbled that ball inside the five-yard line? I hadn't been that sad since, well, earlier in the game.
6. Owen Daniels continues to amaze me. Not to hex the man, but his butterfingers seem to be a thing of the past. All the guy does is make tough catches in the middle of the field for first downs. What a weapon.
7. Good to see K-Dub back in a big way after a quiet day against Indy the week before.
8. This Steve Slaton-Ahman Green one-two punch is growing on me quickly. I realize typing those words probably means Ahman is lost for the year in practice today via a tragic laceration from a sharp blade of grass, but it had to be said. It really should be old hat now, yet I find myself agog everytime I see Slaton bust one outside, turn it up the field, and/or hold onto the ball while running between the tackles. I don't know what to do with myself.
9. Much like James Harrison in Week One, Joey Porter had his way with Duane Brown. I'm going to chalk that up to a combination of rookie inexperience and a rare quickness off the end of a 3-4 that Brown won't encounter much. Brown has still been far better than I ever thought he would be as a rookie LT.
10. The OL is getting better and better at run-blocking each week. Their pass-blocking has been dicey against the 3-4; once again, I'll attribute this more to the novelty of the scheme and faster personnel rather than the deficiency of the talent on the OL, though you would hope that the team would learn from its experience against Pittsburgh and Miami before Baltimore comes to town next month.
11. Jacoby Jones. There...I promised I was done mentioning him until he did something noteworthy. In my opinion, his return for a TD was the biggest play of the game. It yanked momentum back and kept the game from possibly drifting into an embarrassment.
12. Good snaps from Bryan Pittman last Sunday. That makes me breathe a little easier.
13. Super Mario is beyond good. Beyond great. Beyond awesome. His likeness should be on some form of currency that is accepted at all restaurants, taverns, and stadiums in the Houston area.
14. Earl Cochran keeps on forcing his way onto the field, and it's clear that the front four is considerably more threatening when he's in there instead of Anthony Weaver. When will the coaches just take this to its logical conclusion and start Cochran?
15. Speaking of, why the heck aren't we starting a front four of Super Mario, Amobi Okoye, Frank Okam, and Cochran?
16. If the answer to that question is "Because we want to give Tim Bulman more snaps," great. Bulman had a HUGE pop on Chad Pennington that Travis Johnson couldn't have made in his wildest dreams.
17. The linebacking play was good again, I thought. Morlon Greenwood is trying very hard to make us forget about the first three (3) games of his 2008 season.
18. Much to my surprise, the cornerback play was not completely nightmarish. It wasn't good, mind you, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. But the safety play...
19. (In My Bill Walton Voice): HORRRRRRRRRIBBLLLLLLLLLEE. There is no excuse for letting Patrick Cobbs get twenty (20) yards behind you. I don't care how exotic the offensive scheme is. And Eugene Wilson...I don't even know where to begin. This deserves its own paragraph.
20. How anyone, much less someone who started for the Pats during their glory days, could do what you did is beyond me. Slightly more than three (3) minutes left. Your team is clinging to a two (2) point lead. The opposing team has the ball and only one timeout left. You intercept the ball off a deflection at your opponent's 46. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS FALL DOWN, AND THE GAME IS OVER. YOUR TEAM WINS. JUST FALL THE FUCK DOWN. PRETEND YOU'RE DAVID CARR. JUST FALL THE HELL DOWN. But no...you try to return the ball, and of course you fumble, giving the opposition new life and a fresh set of downs. If the Fins hadn't scored as quickly as they did, you would be the goat of all goats. You should buy Ronnie Brown, Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Kevin Walter dinners for the rest of your godforsaken life. I see now why Tampa Bay cut you.
21. Wilson's idiocy sheds light on a troubling issue that's already been very intelligently discussed by both Matt and Chris on their respective blogs. When your charges exhibit that kind of complete lack of game awareness, at what point do you take a hard look at the coaching? It's easiest to question the defensive coaching, as Richard Smith has yet to consistently show that he can adjust to his personnel and/or the opposing team's game plan. For example, the Texans knew the Dolphins were going to bust out the Wildcat. There's really only so many things they can do out of it, though I'll grant that the pseudo-flea flicker they scored on was not something they'd actually shown in their previous games. Still...I was struck how completely unprepared the defense looked for it. If you didn't know better, you might think that the Fins had never shown that look before they came to Reliant. When do you say enough's enough? When does reality hit? I don't have an answer to the question, but it can't come soon enough.
22. With regard to the offense, I think we've actually seen some improvement there, which you'd expect, considering that Kubes' expertise is on that side of the ball. Although I'd think the issue was completely avoidable and therefore unnecessary, I'll also note that the adjustment the past two (2) weeks to get 'Dre involved early and often (see Point Four) is good news as well. Additionally, there's no doubt the running game and OL play has improved by leaps and bounds since Kubes got to town. My only real beef with the offense, honestly, is the QB play, which is supposed to be Kubes' specialty. Why are Houston QBs still making such poor decisions each week? It doesn't appear to be because of physical limitations; presumably, they can make all the throws. Thus, it would seem to be due to mental shortcomings, and that's where coaching comes in, doesn't it? Make no mistake--I'm not calling for heads here, or suggesting anyone should lose their job. I'm just wondering aloud about a problem that seems to be growing more severe each week, to say nothing of the persistent issues surrounding clock management and challenge calls.
23. Fake Game Balls: Offense--Andre Johnson; Defense--Super Mario; Special Teams--Jacoby Jones.
The Lions tangle with your Houston Texans in a rare late Sunday afternoon tilt. This is a game the Texans should win. But if we've learned anything this season, it's that we don't know anything.