Drat. That tasted like failure. For all the positive press your Houston Texans received after knocking out the top team in the conference, there's been an equal amount of teeth grinding over yesterday's horrendous loss to Oakland. While one game does not a season make and shouldn't erase the many positives we've witnessed over the last month, there's nothing wrong with legitimately lambasting an egg laid. And that's what yesterday was. A fat, colossal egg.
Frankly, Sunday's season-ending home game against Da Bears can't come quickly enough; both the organization and the fans are eager to wash the taste of garbage out of our collective mouth. The first winning season in franchise history won't be happening, but Texans fans have been treated to chronic failure in sufficient doses that we shouldn't really dismiss the progress evident in consecutive non-losing seasons, right? While I'm incredibly disappointed at what we witnessed yesterday, I'm going to leave the pathetic display we saw in California yesterday where it belongs--the rearview mirror. Before I do, however, some observations:
1. Now THAT was the Houston defense we've come to despise during the Richard Smith Era! Eight (8) yard cushions to receivers, regardless of down and distance? Check. No blitzing? Check. Wholly insane decisions (e.g., dropping Jesse Nading into coverage on Darren McFadden) that make us wonder whether the man at the controls is calling formations in between huffs of paint thinner? Check. A complete lack of pressure that allows the opposing QB to look like a Pro Bowler, regardless of whether he actually is one? Check. It was like Richard Smith brought our long nightmare home for the holidays.
3. Last Richard Smith point, I swear. If Smithiak brings him back for another season, there could be more outrage within the fan base than anything that's happened this side of drafting Super Mario.
4. The secondary, to a man, was awful in its entirety. I'll give a slight break to Nick Ferguson for bringing the wood in run support, but every other facet of their play was horrendous. And I fully admit my bias, so disregard this to whatever extent you want to: Jacques Reeves may have had his worst game of the season, and that's saying something.
5. Wherefore art thou, Mario?
6. Amobi Okoye: One sack, as predicted, and a forced fumble to boot. Editor's Note: Please ignore all other predictions. Though I did manage to get the final score right, albeit with the teams reversed. Crap.
7. It's frightening to see how much better Xavier Adibi is than Morlon Greenwood this season. If you ever had any questions about whether Greenwood should still be getting snaps, they should have been answered yesterday.
8. Kris Brown gets major props for knuckling that fifty-three (53) yarder through on a sloppy field. That was ridiculous.
9. Jacoby Jones is done fooling me. I've now reached the point where the otherworldly talent he's flashed at points throughout the last two (2) years will no longer hold me hostage. He's simply too large a liability, as witnessed by him putting the ball on the ground yet another time yesterday.
10. Speaking of special teams...I hit on it in the Comments here, and I want to open it up to discussion. Why does Joe Marciano always seem to avert blame for the poor performance of his unit? Special teams play has vacillated between decent and awful this year. It's never approached "consistently good" in 2008, has it? I'm not saying that Marciano is in Richard Smith territory; he's done a solid job throughout his time in Houston and deserves the benefit of the doubt. I simply question why there doesn't seem to be any accountability for his unit's failings when we have no problem blasting Kubes/Shanahan and R. Smith.
11. There is no excuse, not even Nnamdi Asomugha's brilliance, for not getting the ball to Andre Johnson. He's the best wide receiver in the NFL, yet he doesn't even have a pass thrown his way until the fourth quarter? No excuse for that, Schaub.
12. Nice to see Owen Daniels do what Owen Daniels can do. He really was the lone bright spot on that side of the ball.
13. That was as quiet a 102 total yard day as you'll ever see from Steve Slaton. He was never really a factor.
14. The offensive line got taken to the woodshed by Derrick Burgess & Co. Burgess in particular had his way with Eric Winston, in much the same fashion that Jevon Kearse did the previous Sunday. That's worrisome.
15. While Chester Pitts' unsportsmanlike conduct penalty didn't cost his team the game, having to settle for a FG after said penalty hurt. Badly. Sort of what I imagine getting shot in the stomach would feel like.
16. The Schaub had the pocket shrunk around him far more than it should have been, but he's got to step up and make plays. He didn't, and that INT was nothing short of horrendous. Until Schaub shows he can take care of the ball when it matters most, it's going to be tough imagining him ever reaching anything approaching "elite" status.
17. Trailing by eleven (11) points, Kubes and/or Shanahan's play call on 4th and Inches was gutsy. And odd. And poorly conceived to my admittedly amateur eye. Granted, it's easy to say that after the fact, but I think every Texans fan watching that play develop was screaming, "Take the points!" or at the very least, wondering why Kubes, who loves to roll his QBs out of the pocket, didn't incorporate that into the call. Kubes guessed wrong, and that was all she wrote.
18. Fake Game Balls: Offense--Owen Daniels; Defense--Amobi Okoye; Special Teams--Kris Brown.
Striving for .500 to close the season isn't sexy by any means. Still, remember that your Houston Texans have rallied back from an 0-4 start. That means they've got a shot to have played 8-4 football after the first month of the season. That's something to build on. Again, it's not what we want, but it's a heckuva lot better than 2-14, 4-12, 5-11, and/or 6-10 (twice). Rejoice in the opportunity for consistent mediocrity, people!