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Full BRB Staff Breakdown: Preseason, Regular Season & Beyond

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Every so often, BRBers are subjected to the horror treated to the delight of the entire staff convening for a project. Today is such a time. What follows below the jump is all eight staff members answering questions and giving their thoughts about the Houston Texans of the preseason, regular season, and maybe even postseason.

Fair warning:  This is long, but when has this staff ever done anything with brevity in mind?

1) The Most Valuable (Preseason) Player Was...


Tim: ...Bryan Braman.  Even if you removed (Preseason) from the question, my answer wouldn't change.  In related news, Braman's at 5:2 odds to figure cold fusion out before the Texans' season kicks off on Sunday.  Don't you dare bet against him.

BigFatDrunk: ...about as meaningful as the last hair on my head.

RiversMcCown: ...Chris Ogbonnaya, for soaking up lots of carries in that Jets game. Thanks for doing your part to keep the real backs healthy, Chris!

TexansDC: ...the cart that got Andre Johnson off the field in a hurry to minimize any injury risk.

UprootedTexan: ...Brooks Reed.  I was worried to some extent about Barwin's durability after that gruesome injury last season and I wanted to see if Reed would play well if he were needed in Barwin's absence.  He has really come on strong since the start of camp and I really look forward to seeing him on the long as that means Barwin's still healthy, anyway.

MDC: ...Andre Johnson.  The answer to any question about most valuable on this team is always Andre Johnson.  He is the alpha and the omega and any other cool letters from the Greek alphabet.

Vega: ...Matt Schaub.  No, he didn’t have as much flash as, say, Bryan Braman, but I take much more pleasure in seeing our star quarterback (and yes, he is a star quarterback) carve up an opposing defense than I do in seeing a third string linebacker blast past a lineman who’s now working as a bouncer at a house of ill repute.  Sure Schaub played against some scrubs too, but he also did it against some first stringers and he is as critical to our season as any other player.

tehGrindCrusher: ...J,J. Watt, no wait, Antonio Smith, no wait, Brooks Reed, no wait, Arian Foster, no wait, Matt Schaub, no wait, Andre Johnson, no wait, Connor Barwin, no wait...

2) The Most Improved (Preseason) Player Was...

Tim: ...I'll say James Casey, though I'm not sure if it was so much improvement as it was opportunity.  Either way, I'm very excited about him at FB/H-Back/TE/Swiss Army Knife.

BFD: ...Xavier Adibi.  Because, you know, he was actually on the field for a change.  Otherwise, what I saw was more due to scheme change on defense.  J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith have both looked nice in the new scheme.  Ben Tate has promise.

Rivers: ...nobody really seemed to play above the talent expectations I already had for them. I guess if I had to pick somebody it would be James Casey, but I was already an advocate of him last preseason and the improvement is all in his ability to improve the passing attack as a competent fullback.

TDC: ...Andre Johnson. He had 100 yards receiving in a half, so that's improvement, right?

UT: ...Owen Daniels.  He was a disappointment last year and it's nice to see him finally looking like the Pro Bowl tight end from a couple years ago.

MDC: ...Matt Leinart?  I went from projectile vomiting at the thought of his seeing regular season snaps to merely breaking into a profuse cold sweat.  That's progress, baby.

Vega: ...The easy answer is Ben Tate, but it’s not hard to "improve" from his past season.  No, I’ll go with Antonio Smith.  Again, keeping with the theme that I’m weighing the third game more than the others, Smith absolutely dominated the line in that game and showed that he can be a force in this defense.  Provided he can avoid the personal fouls, that is.  

tGC: ...Brooks Reed.  We had eyewitness reports from camp that he was struggling, but he picked things up in a hurry and was fairly influential when he played.

3) The Most Disappointing (Preseason) Player Was...

Tim: ...Steve Slaton, in that I'm disappointed he's still on the roster after not seeing a single snap of game action while Chris Ogbonnaya busted his arse.


Rivers: ...Dorin Dickerson. When you've saddened the coaching staff enough that the corpse of Bryant Johnson is brought in, I think it's safe to say that the physical tools weren't quite enough to make up for poor route-running, lazy blocking, and a lack of grasp on the offense

TDC: ...Joe Marciano. I don't care that he's not a player. The special teams are still a steaming pile of garbage.

UT: ...Shaun Cody, because he's still on the roster.  But in all seriousness, I'm going to say DeMeco Ryans.  Only because his elbow injury kept him out for so much of the preseason it made it difficult to discern whether he'd shown any sign of improvement from his achilles tendon injury.

MDC: ...Shaun Cody.  All that stuff I said up there about Andre Johnson?  Cody is the opposite of that.

Vega: ...Mario Williams.  I mean, dude didn’t even record a sack.  We should have traded him for Vince Young.  What the… Ow… stop hitting me.  Ok, honestly, I have to say Jacoby Jones.  He earned a big, long term deal this off-season and I just didn’t see anything to suggest that he’s really earned it.  I don’t want to base too much off of a weak preseason performance, but I could have done without seeing more of the same disappointment.  


4) The 2011 Houston Texans will...

Tim: ...bring all of us a unique combination of joy, fear, self-loathing, bewilderment, and excitement.

BFD: ...not compete for the title of the worst defense in NFL history, but we will play worse against the run.

Rivers: ...probably be as good or better than the 2009 version. Unfortunately, they don't get to whoop on the NFC West this year, so that might not necessarily result in a better record. Additionally, I would say that no matter what flaws this team has, it will be well-coached on offense and defense, which can overcome a lot. (Note: this is not necessarily an endorsement that Gary Kubiak is a good head coach.)

TDC: ...provide plenty to write about in their 10-6 season.

UT: ...cause me to once again be an embarrassment to everyone around me...but less so after they post a 12-4 record.

MDC: ...Go 11-5, win the division, host a playoff game, and increase my usual Sunday alcohol consumption by 24.75%.

Vega:  ...cost me yet another year of my life.  Watching them play every weekend is the equivalent of smoking a pack of unfiltered Camels laced with moonshine and red meat.  I expect them to be significantly better this year, but I don’t expect them to be better for my blood pressure.

tGC: ...finally solve cold fusion and share it with the masses. (Compiler's note: What are the odds that we'd see two cold fusion jokes?)

5) This year's surprise player will be...

Tim: ...He'll be a surprise nationally, but what Owen Daniels does this year won't really surprise most diehard Texans fans.  I really think he's going to have a huge season.  He'll be back in the conversation about who the best TE in the league is.

BFD: ...I’ve been saying it for a while, and I’m going to stick with him: Glover Quin.

Rivers: ...We live in a 24/7 news cycle where Bryan Braman has spent the entire preseason getting his towel fluffed. There are no surprise players for real Texans fans.

TDC: ...James Casey, Pro Bowl player?

UT: ...Connor Barwin.  He'll finally get starting time and at a position that most draft experts said he would be the best fit for; as long as his foot stays attached.

MDC: ...James Casey.  People are going to see a FB with an absurd number of catches and a running game that does not suffer from the departure of Vonta Leach and be all like, "OMG guyz, WTF?!"  Or, you know, something like that.

Vega: ...James Casey.  He’ll be adequate in the run game, but during the preseason, we saw glimpses of what he can be in the passing game.  I am absolutely giddy about the multitude of ways he can come out of the backfield and I think it’s yet another aspect that opposing defenses will have to prepare for.  Of course, if he wanted to lay out the occasional linebacker, I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

tGC: ...Brooks Reed.

6) The player who will get you closer to cirrhosis this season will be...

Tim: ...The race between Antonio Smith and Jacoby Jones is a close one, but Jakespeare ultimately wins the honor, because I think #94 is going to be good for several big plays that'll offset the inevitable stupid penalties.  Jakespeare, on the other hand, will have no such saving grace.

BFD: ...Brian Cushing.  To me, he appears to have lost his explosiveness, and I don’t think he’ll stand up well in the running game.  Yes, he’ll get to the QB and collect some sacks and hurries, but he’ll be equally poor against the run…where we actually need him more.

Rivers: ...Kareem Jackson. He already necessitated two kidney transplants last season though, so it's hard to get fussed about a simple disease.

TDC: ...Shaun Cody, starting nose tackle.

UT: ...Toss-up between Shaun Cody and Kareem Jackson.  Judging by our preseason state of the run defense, I'll give the edge to Shaun Cody.

MDC: ...Not counting Shaun Cody?  I'll go with Jacoby Jones.  From the running backward on punt returns to the inability to consistently catch balls, he brings me inordinate amounts of pain.  Which I then salve with the wonderfulness that is booze.

Vega: ...This absolutely HAS to be Jacoby Jones.  He is so talented and can make so many plays, but he absolutely drives me insane when he lets one slip through his fingers.  In fact, from this day forth, I dub him Jacoby "Cirrhosis" Jones.   

tGC: ...Jacoby Jones. Again.

7) The game you're most looking forward to is...

Tim: ...New Orleans.  In New Orleans.  It'll be a great early opportunity to see if the Texans really have turned the page.

BFD: ...Game 1 against the Colts.  Is this defense real?  Will we be able to get to the QB on a consistent basis?  Will runs inside and draws be our undoing?

Rivers: ...11/27 @ Jacksonville. As someone who expects the run defense to be a problem this year, I think the Jaguars could be a formidable bogey team for Houston. Can the Texans actually beat a division foe that they should be able to? History doesn't fill you with optimism, so I think this game will tell us a lot.

TDC: ...New Orleans-Houston.

UT: ...Week Six against Baltimore.  I think they'll be the first major test for the Texans as a whole and it will have given the defense several weeks to get comfortable in Wade's defense to give us some idea of just how good we can expect them to be.

MDC: ...The home game on Sunday, January 8, 2012.  Opponent TBD.

Vega: ...From a personal perspective, it has to be the Dolphins game so that I can talk crap to my family for one more year.  Did you know the Texans have never lost to the Dolphins?  I can’t tell you how awesome that is.  From a purely football perspective, I’m going to go with the Steelers game because we never play well against those guys (even when we've won), so it will be an excellent measuring stick for our expectations.

tGC: ...The AFC Championship game: Texans vs Chargers - you heard it here first.

8) The broadcast team you wish could cover the Texans 24/7 consists of...

Tim: ...anyone who has ever appeared on Battle Red Radio.

BFD: ...The BRB staff minus MDC, who will only be utilized for charting and making notes.  Who wants to hear Mickey Mouse call a football game anyway?

Rivers: ...Ralph Kiner on Quaaludes. If we're going to be stuck with mediocre or worse announcers who make tons of mistakes, we might as well embrace it.

TDC: ...MDC as the color commentator (with voice modulator of course) with Lance Z as the play-by-play guy. Sideline reporter? ESPN's Sam Steele. Pre-game crew? Rivers, bfd, and Tim...via Blog Talk Radio, of course, since that always works out flawlessly.

UT: ...Gus Johnson and Andres Cantor.  Can you imagine what would happen every time the Texans scored, between the two of them?

MDC: ...not Steve Tasker.

Vega: ...You know, there’s not a single broadcast team out there that makes me excited.  There are more teams out there that I hate than there are ones that I like.  I won’t dodge the question, though, so I’ll give the nod to whichever broadcast team physically beats the crap out of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (and I know he doesn't do football, but if they can get a shot in on Tim McCarver, they can broadcast my daughter's first birthday too).

tGC: ...Ian Darke, who did the play-by-play for the US's awesome win over Algeria in the World Cup, and Rich Gannon.

9) Sixteen (16) Fiskings doled out this season to worthless reporters on BRB. Do you take the over or under?

Tim: Under.  That averages out to once per week, and I figure we'll all either be too happy or too demoralized by early November to keep that kind of pace up.

BFD: Under.  Sure, we’ll have plenty of material, but as I no longer bother clicking on a non-Steph link to the Chron, I’ve lost most of my fisking sources.

Rivers: Under. MDC does the vast majority of them and he's the Randy Moss of Texans bloggers ... who knows how long he'll stay happy and motivated?

TDC: Over. I expect massive outbreaks of stupidity. I'm also sure everyone else will go under, so I'll be contrarian.

UT: Under.  Unless I'm feeling ambitious or really bloody irritated by something then over.

MDC: Under.  I enjoy doing them, but (a) I think the Texans will be good enough that the stupidity from regular media will slow a little bit and (b) I'm nowhere near consistent enough to think that I would do even 12 of those on top of the Two-Day Hangover and whatever else I manage to sneak past the censors.

Vega: Well, I’m probably good for at least eight, so I think the other guys are definitely good for one every two weeks.  And if there’s money involved, I’ll fisk myself.  Wait, that came out wrong.

tGC: Under.

10) Shameless plug time! The drink that will get you through Sundays is...

Tim: ...all of them.

BFD: (cold brewed) and water, which I know is shocking.  I’ll watch most games with my son by my side, and it’s too early to start drinking, anyway.  Being the parent (that’s right, b31c, I’m a parent) of two small children is hard enough when sober, much less if I’ve been drinking.

Rivers: ...water, I imagine. What could be more exciting than the savage ballet that is professional football?

TDC: ...whatever seasonal beer I can find. This week? Summit Oktoberfest.

UT: ...Diet Coke.  I rarely drink, but when I do, I drink Pyramid Hefeweizen.

MDC: ...Shiner Black.  Also Monopalowa vodka.

Vega: ...My own personal homebrewed IPA.  A nice crisp ale with a hoppy punch that comes from a combination of Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo hops.  It’s also dry hopped with additional Amarillo for a great, citrusy aroma.  I call it India Pale Awesomeness.

tGC: ...considering most of the Texans games come on late at night where I live, it's either water or Coca Cola.

11) Tell me something about any of the other NFL franchises.

Tim: They aren't located in Houston.  Next.

BFD: I want the Eagles and Jets to go 0-16.

Rivers: Sometimes they employ nose tackles. It's interesting to watch someone, placed in the center of a defensive line, who doesn't consistently give up three yards of real-estate off the snap.

TDC: I feel sorry for Carolina.

UT: The Seattle Seahawks will either be a surprise playoff team again this year or in the hunt for Andrew Luck next year.

MDC: The Philadelphia Eagles now employ Jason Babin.  He will suck for them this time, just like he sucked for them last time.  The Miami Dolphins employ Reggie Bush, and they apparently labor under the misconception that, despite not being able to run between the tackles in New Orleans, where the offensive line is very good, he will be a feature RB in Miami.  This is high comedy.

Vega: You mean other than the fact that they’re all going to be disappointed with their season?  Well, let me keep it to the AFC South.  Did you hear that every team in the division other than the Texans will be starting a new quarterback?  Hahahahahahaha.

tGC: The Dallas Cowboys suck.

12) Closing thoughts on Texans, BBQ, life, booze, women, 2011, future blogs posts, anything you want to say really.

Tim: My wife and I found out she was pregnant a few days before the 2010 football season started.  We decided that we would not learn the baby's gender so as to make the birthing a glorious surprise (if it was a boy) or an unspeakable horror (if it was a girl).  The 2010 season for my beloved Horns and Texans proceeded to go directly down the drain, thus convincing me that the baby was a girl and had successfully begun ruining my life in utero, which was both terrifying and admirable.  I spent the next several months convinced that I was going to have a daughter who would have me wrapped around her finger while slowly driving me insane(r).
Lo and behold, a few days before the 2011 NFL Draft, my son was born.  It was awesome on any number of levels, one of which is that I look forward to watching Texans games with him, even during this first year when he has absolutely no clue what's going on (while I'll convince myself that any serious visage on his part is definitive proof that he's silently dissecting schemes and mentally cataloging tendencies, I realize he's probably just voiding his bowels).  That'll be fun.  If the Texans endure another 6-10 campaign, however, I'm liable to deem him unlucky and may have to create some sort of infant exchange program.

BFD: Time willing, I’m going to do a predictions post.  That aside, it’s hard for me to be overly optimistic about the Texans in 2011.  We SHOULD be much improved, and there was no better improvement than getting rid of Frank Bush and replacing him with an inanimate carbon rod, much less Wade Phillips.  For the first time in franchise history, we specifically addressed glaring needs in the off-season as well.

But the Texans need to prove themselves on the defensive side of the ball, and Kubiak’s game management skills need to take a step forward.  Unlike last year, when after the fourth game it was apparent the defense was still a joke (as it had been in 2009), if we look better after the fourth game this year, it will be a different story.  When you add the Texans’ truly elite ability to disappoint, I’m guardedly optimistic, but I’m not ready to buy tickets to the Super Bowl just yet.

Rivers: You should buy the Football Outsiders Almanac 2011 solely to see the line I used in Robert Royal's player comment. Oh, and cause I get a small portion of the proceeds and such.

TDC: The best things in life are simple.
- Offense (get the ball to Andre Johnson)
- Defense (blitz the hell out of the quarterback)
- Booze (nothing takes the edge off like an ice cold beer)
- Women (I'm sure there's a joke I can make here)

UT: This could be a very long football season for me.  I may be starting a regular job here soon, and I have several ideas for posts, not the least of which includes the return of Battle Red Onion.  Also, if I can scrape together enough coin, I was planning on writing more "Steel Blue Strategy Sessions" for both offense and defense.  I also think, ::Pollyanna mode::, that this will be the single greatest season in Texans history.

MDC: Watching a Texans game while eating BBQ, drinking Shiner, and hanging out with Alison Brie is what I imagine heaven to be like.  I have not yet reconciled how so many of the things I would do to Ms. Brie could occur in Heaven, given that I'm sure at least 12 of them are sins.  I assume there's a waiver or something I could sign.

Vega: For starters, I’m very excited to start writing about the Texans again, so thanks again to Tim and the BRB crew for bringing me on recently.  I haven’t been this excited about an upcoming season since the inaugural season of 2002.  This team has a chance to finally push this team’s national reputation from "could have been" to "got it done", and while I’m not too concerned about how the nation sees the Texans, I think we’d all prefer to be known as a team that wins instead of one that provides painfully entertaining finishes.

Of course, when I first read the question, I read it as Booze Women, 2011, which sounds like a dirty movie and would have changed my answer significantly.

tGC: One of my longstanding barbecuing goals is to make a pizza from scratch and barbecue it.  I also plan on doing a 12 lb brisket or some such in the next few weeks along with a few chicken halves for my staff and boss.  The Texans are going to be a lot more fun to watch and root for than last year, and BRB is going to pick up a ton of bandwagon fans, some of which are VY fanboys that left MCM and created sockpuppets now that the Texans are good and VY is with the Eagles.  I plan on writing more frequently so that nobody inadvertently confuses me with DreKeem.  Women remain a mystery to me, even after nearly ten years of marriage. 

A big thank you to all the writers for answering. If you've read the entire post, congratulations on reading all 3,600+ words.