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Totally Not Fake News: First Impressions From Camp

With the start of camp come the first wave of impressions for the 2021 Texans

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Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts
Hope springs eternal. Maybe we will see a positive play like this in 2021?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

HOUSTON, TX – For many outside the Texans’ training facility, there is not a lot of reasons for optimism. After all, the team, seen as an outside playoff/Super Bowl contender in 2020, somehow manage to finish 4-12 and then proceeded to fall even further. There are even some sports books in the very-early-but-clearly-super-duper-accurate-and-never-ever-ever-ever-wrong gambling prognosticators who don’t see the Texans being favored in ANY game next season. However, that is the furthest thing from the mind of the players and coaches as they open camp and look to the 2021 season with a sense of optimism and hope.

“Hey, I got some guaranteed money coming my way this year. I’ll make more in a few months than I would stocking groceries at H.E.B. in a year” stated more than a few of the linebackers that the Texans signed this past off-season. Actually, that line was stated by most of the running backs, wide receivers, offensive linemen and majority of the new coaching staff.

[NOTE: We spoke with several H.E.B. warehouse managers about some of these individuals and off the record, most the managers indicated that they had actually interviewed and considered most of the players in question for their warehouse positions, but ultimately decided to go in other directions. Something about them “not being ready for the big responsibility of managing critical logistical concerns, especially in areas involving speed, strength, stamina or being bi-pedal.”]

Shoppers arrive at an H-E-B supermarket in Monterrey, Mexico
Interesting to think which organization has the tougher hiring standards? Texans, or this corporation?
Photo by Mauricio Alanis/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Yet, the attention, as is the wont of most NFL organizations, tends to focus on the glamor position of the team: Executive Vice President (EVP) of Football Operations. This critical suit-and-tie-or-perhaps-due-to-Houston-heat-polo-shirt-and-slacks position is the key driver for success for any major NFL organization. Just think about the major EVP of football operations that led the Steel Curtain, the ’72 Dolphins, the great teams from the NFC East in the 1980s-early 1990s or perhaps the…WAIT, WAIT, HOLD IT! HOLD IT! (loud record scratching noise) Apparently, that is not quite correct. We meant to say the QUARTERBACK position. The QUARTERBACK position. No sure how we got that mixed up, but it can happen to any major news organization.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
When the weather allows, casual jackets are also part of the EVP of Football Operations as well...
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the quarterback situation for the Texans. Currently, the team has four quarterbacks in camp, three of whom were not with the team last season. The Texans are currently trying to ascertain which of the new guys will step up to lead the team to glory.

“Well, we think we have a great mix of experience and youth.” Noted head coach David Culley. “We have playoff starting experience within this group. We have great potential with the rookie and we have another guy with some experience, but not quite like the other guy.”

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins
Remember, when the Texans talk QBs with playoff starting experience, THIS is who you shall think of...there is absolutely NO ONE else on the roster who fits the bill for quarterbacks with playoff experience. None at all that you should care about...
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

“Ok” we noted. “However, it seems like you are focusing on the guys that were NOT on the team last year.”

“I wasn’t on the team last year either” retorted Culley. “Look, this is a new start for the team and franchise, and we are going to take advantage of the new start for all of these people. We will go with whoever has the best combination of talent and work ethic and that is the bottom line.”

“So, if you had a quarterback that actually won a playoff game as a starting quarterback in the NFL, and even as recently as last season, lead the NFL in passing, you would do everything you could to get that guy out on the field, right?”

“Ya know, you are starting to sound like the fourth string/back-up safety I used in the non-contact part of practice. Are you talking with him behind the scenes?”

At this point, our intrepid camp reporters decided that they would not be able to get much more useful information out of the coaching staff, so they wanted to hear straight from the primary sources…however, since the great and powerful Executive Vice President of Football Operations was busy with devotional studies, or something like that, we just had to wait for…[EASTERBY] IT!!!! WE DID IT AGAIN!!!! WE MEANT THE QUARTERBACKS!!!! WHY ARE WE OVERLOOKING THIS WITH THIS PARTICULAR TEAM????

Given their intensive study requirements, which some would compare to a top-level seminary program, we couldn’t get them via normal means of just shouting out questions to them at camp. That would require us to be physically at camp and Totally Not Fake News did not spring for the season ticket requirements in order to attend the training camp sessions, so we went with the tried and tested Zoom and other electronic communication methods.

We quickly ran into a few issues. The presumed starter, Tyrod Taylor, well, we had some significant difficulties getting ahold of him via various telecommunication methods, especially if those methods required anything beyond short-range contact, like the old school local landline calls. Apparently, there is some issue with Taylor and any major, long-distance actions. Local calls seemed to get through fine, and if you had a runner or two, you were golden. Long distance…not really working too well.

When Taylor was out, we automatically reached out to the lead actor in the Texans 2021 draft class, Davis Mills. We gave him our email and social media contact information, and we made it a point to be very clear and very precise in how he could reach out to us. We did hear back from Mills, but the odd thing was that we seemed to only receive 1 out of 5 direct communicates back to our offices. The others didn’t come direct from Mills, but they somehow were routed through addresses and IPs associated with individuals like Bradley Roby, Eric Murray, and surprisingly, a lot of direct relays from Vernon Hargreaves.

Colorado v Stanford
We think this went to the intended recipient...but based on recent observations, we are not so sure.
Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

Figuring some of those comm relay issues with Mills could be resulting from his rookie status, we made overtures to Jeff Driskel. Yet, somehow, Driskel’s communicates were being rerouted back to us via the IPs and addresses associated with Texans defenders ala Mills. This is really quite a baffling situation, but probably not in anyway reflective of the performance of any of these athletes on the practice. Nope, not reflective in any way, shape or form.

We tried to reach out to the fourth string non-contact safety, as we thought he looked similar to a guy who did throw the football at last camp. However, we kept getting some sort of automatic response related to “speak to my lawyer, unless you are good with deep, lower massages, in which case...oops, scratch that last part...just speak to my lawyer.”

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans
The non-contact backup safety.
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

On that note, and at the risk of getting to into deeper legal issues, we will move on. The Texans, no matter what the outside world thinks, still plan to move forward with training camp and the preseason. Who knows? They might perform better than expected once the games count...or at least one hopes that the Texans QBs can return direct correspondence without going through the redirector that is Vernon Hargreaves.