If you read Battle Red Blog for any length of time, certain things quickly become apparent. For example, BFD and UprootedTexan hate pants. Rivers hated pants until hating pants became cool, so now he embraces pantaloons and knickers. TexansDC seems like the kind of guy who once stabbed a drifter just to see the guy's reaction. Tim was born without whatever part of the human brain detects the taste of rancid urine, as demonstrated by his love for Coors Light, yet he inexplicably has terrific taste in whisky. tehGrindCrusher is an international man of mystery who enjoys jokes about Schrödinger's cat just a little too much. Vega drinks to numb the pain of Northwestern football, even though he knows there's not enough booze in the world to accompish that. I am rakishly handsome and possessed of a charm that excites women and drives other men to madness.
You know what else quickly becomes apparent? That the BRB writers collectively are
brilliant geniuses above-average willing to make fools of themselves by predicting the unpredictable. We are like a group of socially awkward, needlessly verbose, hardly ever correct Nostradamuses (Nostradamii?).
Which (finally) brings me to the point: it's 'bout to get all prognosticated up in here, B! After the jump, we give our best guesses as to five questions about your Houston Texans. A second set of five will come in a separate post, which is not in any way an attempt on my part to boost my number of offseason posts or to fill space because no one else has content today. Seriously.
[Editor's note: To the extent that certain answers might suggest that my original questions contained typos, I have no idea what they are talking about. I think they're making stuff up. Haters gon' hate and all that. --MDC]
1. Let's start big: Will the Texans win the Super Bowl? If so, what team will they vanquish in New Orleans? If not, how far into the postseason will they go?
Rivers: No. AFC Championship game. In New England.
UprootedTexan: If they get to the Super Bowl, the Texans will win it; and they are more than capable of making it to the Super Bowl. They will defeat the San Francisco 49ers en route to their first title.
Tim: I'm not ready to say the Texans will win the Super Bowl. I am ready to say they are in the conversation of teams with a realistic chance to win it; this is the first time any of us could legitimately say that in the preseason. Should you insist on me calling a shot, I'll call a berth in the AFC Championship Game. After that, it's anyone's ballgame.
BFD: No. My guess is we make the AFC Championship game and lose to New England, who'll face Green Bay at the Big Dance in the Big Easy with the Big Drinky.
TexansDC: Hmm...you can't see it, but I'm contemplating A LOT. This team, if healthy, is talented enough in all three phases of the game to make the AFC Championship game. I think they can make the Super Bowl, and, as I've said all offseason, I think the AFC is a stronger conference than the NFC due to better defensive play. In other words, yes, I think the Texans will beat Green Bay in the Super Bowl.
Vega: The Texans have as much talent as any other contender. You can make the argument that they fall short in the areas of experience, make up, luck, clutchedness, or any other intangible, but as far as pure physical ability goes, it’s hard to argue that any other team is better prepared. Taking that in to consideration as well as the fact that the season hasn’t even started yet, I’m going to go all homerific and say that yes, they will win the Super Bowl. Their vanquished foe will be the Carolina Panthers. No, just kidding… the Packers are the boring answer, but they are the team that seems best equipped from the NFC, so I’ll go with them (I just can’t buy into the Saints going all the way in their own home, and the Giants aren't likely to get hot at the right time... again).
MDC: Yes. What do I base this on? Lots of things, actually. For instance, the Texans play football in the NFL, which is a prerequisite to even participate in the Super Bowl, so they've got a leg up there already. They play in a division that, at the bottom, resembles the MAC. That helps. They are also one of only a small handfull of truly complete teams in the NFL right now. Plus, the Super Bowl is in New Orleans, and I love New Orleans, and as a long-suffering Texans fan, I think I kind of deserve to be in New Orleans when the Texans win a Super Bowl. It's flawless logic, really. I can't see why people would disagree.
tGC: No. They'll make it to the AFC Championship game, but no further.
2. Biggest surprise (in a good way) in 2012?
BFD: Garrett Graham. No reason to believe he can't replace Dreessen.
Rivers: Between Garrett Graham, Keshawn Martin, and Lestar Jean, there are plenty of secondary receivers for Schaub to hit, and the Texans can play catch up if they get behind on a non-elite team.
TexansDC: There will be an offensive skill player, not named Andre, Arian, Ben, or Owen, representing the Texans in the Pro Bowl.
Vega: I’m going with Garrett Graham. He’s been solid in the preseason here, so it may not be too much of a surprise to the folks here, but considering how much the team uses the TE2 position Graham will have a very solid season. I think he’ll struggle with his blocking, but his receiving abilities will make people forget that for the most part.
Tim: Andre Johnson. I believe he'll stay healthy and play 15 games in the regular season. I also believe this whiskey is delicious.
UprootedTexan: Call it a hunch and constantly being in the presence of our defensive coordinator and all his blessed Wade-ness will finally make watching KJax downright tolerable.
MDC: Kareem Jackson. Look, he's never going to be Johnathan Joseph, but he seems to have improved this year. Few teams have the weapons to come at him like New Orleans did, and, honestly, I feel like the old Kareem would have looked far worse against New Orleans last Saturday. He wasn't getting beat deep and he even made a nice (if lucky) play on a deep sideline route. That, kids, is improvement.
tGC: Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson stay healthy the whole season.
3. Biggest surprise (in a bad way) in 2012?
Tim: I still tremble in fear that more teams will run up the Texans' gut this season. I was shocked at how few teams attempted it last year, and I have memories of the few teams that did try it having success doing it. This is not me hating on Shaun Cody; it's simply recognizing that the Texans are weaker at NT and ILB (after Cushing) than anywhere else on the field not manned by Kareem Jackson.
UprootedTexan: I hope I'm wrong, but I think the running game takes a step back this season.
TexansDC: We're already seeing it, but the surprise is Bradie James and how meh he's been.
BFD: Danieal Manning. He definitely wasn't my favorite free agent signing, and I think teams simply failed to exploit him last year. Historically, Manning has been an up and down player. I expect down in 2012. I won't consider any pain at RT a surprise.
Vega: Kareem Jackson’s perceived performance fails to materialize. Based on what I saw in New Orleans (small sample size for the win!), he seems to have developed a case of the "Frenchies". He’s doing a good job of getting into position, but he’s failing to turn around and locate the ball. Without that skill his new-found ability to stay with receivers is just going to give him a better view of the catch.
Rivers: The right side of the offensive line flops. People stop pretending that Eric Winston was bad because he gave up a few sacks.
MDC: The Texans only win 12 games, with one of the four losses coming either at the hands of Blaine Gabbert or Andrew Luck, and ultimately 13 wins would have gotten them a first-round bye.
tGC: Wade Phillips will not [stay healthy the whole season].
4. How many games will Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and Matt Schaub start together this season? Of the three, who worries you the most from an injury standpoint?
Rivers: 12. Andre.
BFD: 35. [Ed. note: Zuh? Go banana!] Johnson's continued muscle problems, which have a tendency to cascade, worry me tremendously.
Tim: I'm going to say 14. I object to the vague and ambiguous nature of your second question. Are you asking who I am most worried about getting injured? Or are you asking me which of those gentlemen getting injured would worry me most in terms of the Texans' prospect for success this season?
Am I objecting because I don't want to talk any more about Schaub, Arian, or 'Dre getting injured? OBJECTION. YOU'RE OUT OF ORDER! NO, YOU'RE OUT OF ORDER! I MOVE FOR AN IMMEDIATE MISTRIAL!
MDC: 16 if necessary; 15 if one or more rests in Week 17.
TexansDC: 14. I'll say Andre simply due to recent history.
UprootedTexan: 14, and that's only because they'll rest one or more of these guys toward the end of the season. Of the three, Andre clearly worries me most, injury-wise.
Vega: I’ll say 12. I believe that Schaub and Foster will play all 16 (and then some), but poor Andre has reached the status where every time Schaub completes a downfield pass, I respond thusly: Is that #80? Did he get up after the tackle? Is he limping? Does he have any signs of injury? If no… breathe again... Celebrate reception.
5. Which player's absence will be most glaring in 2012: Eric Winston, Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, or Joel Dreessen?
Vega: Mario and Dreessen seem to have capable replacements on the roster. Bradie James is no DeMeco, but I think he’s getting too much hate for the NO game. Had that been a regular season game, I believe Wade would have made more adjustments in the passing game, and besides, Jimmy Graham will make a lot of linebackers look bad. Winston’s departure, however, has me concerned. Both Newton and Butler have had moments that scare the crap out of me, and one bad moment from the O-line has the potential to torpedo the season.
Tim: Who is DeMeco Ryan? I am not familiar with that chap.
I actually think Dreessen's absence may be the most noticeable, as his blocking and red zone ability could be sorely missed. After him, I'd probably rank them (right now, anyway) from most likely to least likely to be missed as Ryans (thought Bradie James would be a more seamless transition), Winston (jury's out on Newton right now), Mario (he missed all but five games last year and Mercilus will be very good in the rotation at OLB).
Rivers: Winston. See: 3.
BFD: Eric Winston. While I love Derek Newton, he obviously still struggles in pass protection.
MDC: I suppose Winston is the most obvious answer, but I'm going to go with DeMeco. It's not just that Bradie James has looked bad in every preseason game, though he has; it's that, with Darryl Sharpton's injury slow to heal, you're looking at a world where either James or Tim Dobbins or Mister Alexander is getting an appreciable amount of snaps. I have no problem with Dobbins or Alexander as depth and package subs, but I don't particularly care for any of them as a starter.
TexansDC: None of the above, but if you want a winner by default, I'll go Winston.
UprootedTexan: Eric Winston. As unfortunate a pass blocker as he was, he was a hell of a run blocker, and I can only hope Derek Newton can make me forget about him.
tGC: Joel Dreessen
Check back later
today tomorrow for part 2 of this compendium of indispensable insight!