Seven years ago I couldn’t do it. I was in love. I was living at home. I didn’t want to be chained in front of computer sitting in a stripmall. I couldn’t do it. I had to leave, sleep outside, walk and walk and walk, see the desert change from summer to fall, from fall to winter, from winter to spring, and from spring to the early death rage of summer, and waltz around those places I’ve only seen on some Ken Burn’s documentary, that had made me cry years before.
The Mojave Desert isn’t a wasteland. It’s defined by its vast space, space you can see forever in. There are valleys, and craggy batches of mountains swept smooth by those howling gales, but when you really get into the desert, infinity is right in front of you. Among all that space are a wide assortment of strange creatures, strange people, and strange things. Rattle snakes with neurotoxin, rabbits with floppy ears to dissipate the heat, purple skunky flowers, cacti whose thorns leap into your legs, abandon rusted mining equipment, crumbled and dilapidated homestead rubble, pink scribble and rock engravings depicting the Gods of an unconscious people, archeologists with hooped earrings, retired rocket scientists, and plenty whose mouths are lacking teeth.
My personal favorite strange thing is the Burro Schmidt tunnel. Schmidt, like so many others, escaped the damp and miserable east coast, a place that claimed his siblings by Tuberculosis, so he could suck in that wondrous dry and hot air. Like so many others, he became a miner, but he had an enormous problem. He wouldn’t be able to get his burros down the ridge to take his ore to to the smelter. So he went to work. With only a hammer, a pick, a shovel, and the occasional detonation of dynamite. His time was spent digging, shoveling, battering, and blasting, while he carved out the rock, and worked as a ranch hand to survive until his tunnel was complete.
He started in 1900. Rock would fall and bust his body. Walls would collapse and he’d become devoured under the rock. Day after day he continued his toil, working through to create a 6’ tall by 10’ wide opening, so that one day, he’d be able to do the thing he came out there to do.
20 years later his work was no longer necessary. A road was completed from his canyon into town. He could finally become a miner. The work consumed him though. His entire brain and body had changed. His abdomen built to the point that he was permanently bent over. His brain wired to only want to do one thing, get to the other side. His ore no longer mattered. Monomaniacal, the tunnel was his great white way.
So he continued. Until 18 years later, after 38 years of work, when his own hands, blood, muscle, and sanity, created a 2,500 foot long tunnel through granite, taking him from one side of the mountain to the other. After his work was completed, he packed up his things, and moved to a nearby town to carry out the rest of his days.
I have been to the tunnel. It’s tall enough for me, as a 6’6” man, to walk through with a slight stoop. Cool and heavenly. Your flashlight occasional brightens pentagrams, phone numbers, and other typical graffiti. Poles keep it upright to prevent it from collapsing. Various boards are stuck to the sides to maintain integrity. Reaching the other side, after a short stroll and taking on the role of the mole, explodes into a wonderful view of space, all that space, the sand flat below, the mountains perched above it, that grand blue firmament, our ceiling that contains everything we know and love.
I like to think he found enlightenment, or God, and really, he wasn’t digging through granite, but was digging down through the interior of his own psyche to turn the third into the fourth, completely align himself, and discover the soul, the self, or whatever you want to call it. It had to be something more. One can’t take on something like because of being stubborn, merely enjoying the work, or the insatiable desire for his body to take over for his brain so that he could finally quiet the devils that he had escaped from.
My body doesn’t, but my brain knows what Mr. Schmidt went through. Every year I write about this football team, slogging through games and coach’s film, grazing along the couch, reviewing what just transpired, blazing through free agency, deciphering draft prospects that matches the team needs, conjuring up content through the summer, until it’s time to do it all over again, preview the upcoming season and bring it on again.
I don’t know what the end goal is. More podcast listeners, more writing opportunities, making more friends to talk about the game with, waiting until the Texans are competent, or, I guess, for them to win a Super Bowl. But then there’s the defense of some imaginary thing that has never occurred, and the only thing you want when you find happiness is more happiness. No. There isn’t an end goal. It isn’t about getting through the mountain and seeing the other side. It’s about the work itself. The way it sounds when the fingers hit the keys, the springs that bubble up from the mind, the strange combination of caffeine and hangover that makes everything feel so close and far away at the same time, the next layer of the game to uncover, what a David Culley offense looks like, these are the things that matter, and keep me still here, doing the same thing year after year.
This Texans season has pushed it to the limit. The scheme is bad, the players are bad, the coaching is bad, all of it is bad, the snake eating its own tail, while defecating into its own mouth. There isn’t a cornerstone player on the roster. The young talent are sesame seeds in a rat turd filled cabinet. The ownership has been blinded by a donkey dressed as a lion.
Yet there’s always something. There’s Jonathan Greenard becoming the next Whitney Mercilus, Kamy Gruiger-Hill jumping the gap, Maliek Collins spin moves, Nico Collins slants, Tytus Howard pass sets, Roy Lopez reading his keys, the Deshaun Watson trade, top ten draft selections, there’s always something to hammer, to shovel, and roll out of the cave itself. For I am a miner, and the Texans are my cave.
THE ONLY THING IT’S MISSING ARE THE PAINT CANS LEFTOVER FROM THE RENOVATION:
Tyrod Taylor's garage is filled with beanie babies, copies of Tony Hawk Underground, seasons of Viva La Bam, baby clothes hardly worn, and a wide variety of grills: propane, charcoal, smoker, because he sure as shit doesn't like throwing anything away.— Matt (Double__Underscore) Weston (@Matt__Weston) December 5, 2021
The Houston Texans are an awful football team.
I know! That’s easy peasy in a duh kind of way! I get it!
Let’s look at it this way. Even last year, the Colts and Texans were kinda sorta peers. This year, the Colts outscored the Texans 62-3. The league has outscored the Texans to almost a 2:1 margin. Since putting up 37 points against the Glitter Kitties on Opening Day, the high for points in the game for the Texans is just 22, both times in losing efforts (with the latter being all trash time scores).
The Texans have been shutout twice in 2021 with five (5) excruciating games to go, and they have scored less than or equal to 14 points in eight (8) out of 12 games.
The two games against the Colts are a great embodiment of the season. Sure, the score today was 31-0, but it was never that close. At no point were the Texans even the slightest threat against the Colts. Aside from the Glitter Kitties and the beaten up BE-SFs, that’s been true in every game. Even at its best, the Texans rely on fluky plays to be even a little threatening.
Nick Caserio isn’t the best general manager in the past decade. All the moves in the off-season netted a seventh round pick a decade from now (or something). Process and culture is as meaningful as Al Bundy’s high school football career.
The Texans have a long way to go to suck.
THINGS ARE WORSE THAN THEY WERE BEFORE:
The 2021 #Texans are much, much, MUCH worse than the 2002 expansion team, the two-win 2005 squad, and the 2013 two-win squad. Like, cannot-be-measured-by-any-system-devised-by-man worse.— battleredblog (@battleredblog) December 5, 2021
When the season started, most knew that this team was not going to be all that good. In one respect, the team has outperformed expectations, actually winning two games and seeing two teams with a worse record twelve games into the season (Houston still holds the tie-breaker over the Jags). The defense is not great by any stretch, but they are getting more turnovers and are slightly better than the 2020 version. So there are some positives for this season.
Yet, the offense...uh, well...uh, you see...Put it to you this way: To call the offense bad or terrible would be paying the squad too high of a complement. To say they suck would be an aspirational statement. This team is moving into historically bad territory. They are dead last in the league in rushing, passing and points scored. As of today, they are averaging 13.7 points/game. The leading rusher for the season for the team is Mark Ingram with 294 yards. For those of you who read the transactions portion of the sports page, you recall that he hasn’t played for the Texans since the end of October, having been traded to New Orleans. After that, the next leading rusher, David Johnson, comes in with a sterling 176 yards for the season. With practically zero running game to speak of, the burden falls on the passing game, but with only 2372 total yards passing, that is not going to come close to getting it done. At least 25 quarterbacks have more yards than that individually. The offensive line is terrible, which given all the draft capital and effort to shore it up over the past few seasons, is inexcusable
It is production like this that makes you long for the 2016 or even, gulp, the 2002 Texans. The 2002 version of the Texans logged 13.3 points/game. Of note, the expansion squad, as bad as they were on offense, was never shut out in a season. The 2021 variant has logged two goose-eggs so far. If he hasn’t started to already, Tim Kelly will need to update his resume/LinkedIn profile stat. Yet, it is a collective foul-up for the offensive woes. While there is some modicum of talent with Cooks being the leading receiver, and some potential with the younger receivers, this offense is perhaps the most unwatchable in the short history of the team, and that is saying something.
Perhaps the only good news is that with the Texans officially eliminated from the playoffs (but Jacksonville is not...figure that one out), there are only 5 more games of this. Not that I have a lot of faith in the McEasterby regime, but this lost season needs to end as soon as possible.
YOU SUCK, HE SUCKS, EVERYTHING SUCKS:
Before all y’all get up in your feelings.. DAVIS MILLS SUCKS TOO— Larry-N-Stafford (@larryinstafford) December 5, 2021
“The Houston Texans are an awful football team.”
I quoted this because I think too many people ‘get it’ on the surface only. For the average fan, the casual football follower, the men, women and children who aren’t spending too much of their personal time following this self-immolating dumpster fire of a franchise, sure it’s a bad team. But to most of them that just means the product on the field sucks.
What most of the folks living in the blissful ignorance of casual fandom don’t get is that the Texans are an awful football franchise. A poster child in what not to do managerially - as in the 2021 Houston Texans should be a case study at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in what not to do to succeed in any endeavor. An abysmal group of clown college dropouts, whose apparent sole desired product is toxic positivity amidst an utter failure to accomplish the goal of this sort of organization: provide entertainment in the form of top of the food chain football performances.
“The Houston Texans are an awful football team.” yes, but keep in mind as goes the leader, so goes the team. Ergo, Cal McNair, Jack Easterby and the rest are awful leaders and the sum of their awfulness was on display yesterday to the tune of 31-0.
That isn’t on the players or even the coaches. That’s on the team’s horrendous leadership. The players are prisoners on the 2021 Houston Titanic, as it slowly, inexorably meanders at half power into the iceberg of embarrassment that will benefit no one who isn’t beholden to the misguided egos of McEasterby.
“The Houston Texans have awful leadership.”
BETTER THAN THE ZAPRUDER FILM:
The Indianapolis Colts offense is one of the most consistent in the league despite not having a true deep threat. Taylor is having a historic year. The Houston Texans did focus on him early and limited any big plays, but he still continued to move the ball forward with every play.
The Texans got behind early with a poor interception and couldn’t get going on offense at all. The Colts didn’t do anything “special” but they read the Texans offense like a book. 11 completed passes is fairly horrific. They didn’t surpass 100 yards and it shows.
With the Lions win, they are inching closer and closer to that first overall pick.
I LOVE A SINKING SHIP:
The Texans play stupid, poor football. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen, and maaaaan have I ever seen some bad football. The Texans’ effort to rebuild is having its starting point buried further into the dirt with every brain-dead play. Dumb coaching, dumb playing, everything is just so devoid of intelligence, common football sense, etc.
The Texans contrarians are out in force trying to establish their brand, and they are the most idiotic clowns of all. But that’s where we live.
THIS IS, WHAT THE KIDS CALL, A MOOD, A VIBE: