HOUSTON – With only five weeks of regular season games left, 30 NFL teams find themselves still harboring playoff and championship aspirations. The scale of the aspirations vary, as some only exist in the “mathematical” realm, but they still exist. With the weather growing chiller and the nights longer, the intensity and pressure increases for those teams. It can make for intense viewing, but also for increased stress for all concerned.
For the Houston Texans, however, the pressure is off. By virtue of back-to-back clinching of the first NFL team eliminated from playoff consideration, beating the Chicago Bears to that designation, the team can focus on other things. “Well, yeah, we ain’t going to the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our own stressors” observed one unnamed player. “It’s prime holiday shopping season, and all the gifts I gotta get for the wife and kids...All the stuff they are asking for, and with prices going through the roof with all the inflation…yeah, I am worried.”
“Aren’t you more worried about the five games remaining this season?” our reported asked.
“Whatever, that is only five more games that don’t mean [Easterby]! You want to be the one on Christmas morning telling your kids you didn’t get them the gifts they wanted?”
“I am surprisingly stressed out too” noted an unnamed player, who seemed to be spending some time in the wide receiver meetings. “I mean, yeah, I got my money, but what if the team doesn’t trade me in the off-season? What if….what if they don’t redo my contract, and I can’t go to, like, a good team? What if I have to suffer in one place to get all $18M I’m guaranteed? That is a frightening thought” said player retorted, doing a full-body shiver when uttering that last sentence.
Then we spoke with this unnamed executive:
“The players think they are worried. What about me? Here I am, thinking that I finally cleaned out all of the deadwood from the last guy, I purged the biggest detriment to this team. Some of the new guys are showing up and showing out…and now I have to worry about MY job status? You think I want to be unemployed, right around the holidays?!?!?!? That’s not how ANY of this is SUPPOSED to work around here! I thought we got rid of all of the back-biting and underhanded office politics, but I guess we are still playing Game of Texans???? Sheesh…don’t rational people know that we still have work to do around here???”
“I don’t know what everyone is so nervous and uptight about?” exclaimed Texans’ CEO Cal McNair. “For the past few seasons, everyone keeps harping on how we are ‘dead [Easterby] last’ in everything. Offensive stats, defensive stats, fan attendance, wins…How about some acknowledgement of the positives? Hey, we were first to do something in back-to-back seasons. We are getting a head start of the all-important off-season, which is really all that anyone cares about anyways. We are making our fans super-duper-excited about football action in the spring, something that hasn’t happened in a long, long time. We are always glad to be associated with some of the best future talent in the game. [Easterby], it is fun to get the fans all excited with that latest Texans’ game shows: “Who’s Your Next Coach?” and “Name. That. GM!!!”
“Wait, Name that what???” exclaimed Nick Caserio, who we may or may not have interviewed earlier.
“Eh, whatever man. I’m just chilling at this point” mused current Texans Head Coach Lovie Smith.
The odd collection of emotions shown by the top people within the Texans organization, as well as many of the players, seemed to impact other assistant coaches.
We talked with special teams coach Frank Ross after last week’s loss.
“Hey, that game was on us. Giving up a punt return…can’t do that. Can’t have those kind of mistakes…especially (cautiously looking left, right and all around) with the rest of the team we have. Special teams is carrying this franchise. It was embarrassing. Still, we will look at the film and get better for next week.
Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton had a slightly different tact:
“Honestly, what the [Easterby] is everyone going to [Easterby] about now? At the start of the year, it was all ‘Why can’t the offense offense in the 4th quarter and/or overtime? Why don’t you give the ball to Pierce more?’ Ok, well, guess what, we starting to improve our 4th quarter offensive performance…look at the 4th quarter plus/minus between early in the season [-41 first six games] and how things evolved as the season went on [+5 the last six games]…progress, right? But oh, no…y’all just never let up. You expect perfection! You expect 1000 percent all the time! Next, you’ll be all over me for not giving Pierce the ball around the goal-line, even though y’all [Easterby]ed so much when I didn’t ‘diversify’ the offense enough. Mills struggled, fine, we gave you what you wanted. You got Kyle Allen. Now you want to go back to Mills? Make up you [Easterby] minds?!?!?!?!”
After this venting session, we wanted to get Hamilton’s views on the upcoming game with Dallas, but he moved on, having nothing to say. Actually, the only person we could talk with about the game was CEO Cal McNair. We asked him if he was worried about the matchup in Dallas.
“Oh no. I mean, yes, Dallas is playing pretty well so far. They ain’t the Eagles, and we took the Eagles down to the wire. So no, I am cautiously optimistic.”
Our reporter retorted “Hey, you did see what they did to Indianapolis this past Sunday, right?”
Cal McNair replied: “Oh, I thought I heard something about a lot of points in the fourth. Of course, I thought the Mavs were also playing, and putting up 33 points in the fourth quarter is not all that unusual for basketball. Luca musta had a good night.”
“No, the Cowboys put up 33 points in the fourth…”
Cal McNair seemed a bit taken aback:
“Wait, the NFL Cowboys??? Of Dallas???...oh [EASTERBY]!!!!! Well, I suppose it was inevitable that Oklahoma would want revenge against a football team with a bull-type logo that embarrassed them in their biggest city of Dallas. That I have to pay for the sins of my alma mater. Such is my lot in life...
“Well, I am confident that our fans will be very fired up for this matchup against the bitter northern bordering-state rival…perhaps just as passionate as they were against the Cleveland Browns last week and ol’ what’s-his-name-who-I-used-to-pay-a-lot-of-money-to…was good to see him, but I don’t think Hanna was thrilled for some reason.”
With that, Totally Not Fake News will leave the Texans as they prepare to face off against the Dallas Cowboys. Check back with us as we continue to follow the ups/downs of the Texans, or the steady mellowness that is Lovie Smith.