HOUSTON - Things are relatively quiet at the Houston Texans’ offices this week. The team is off on its relatively early bye, and like so many other bye weeks in the 21-year playing history of the team, many on-field personnel are out of the building/area. It is a chance for rest, and having a little fun for the players.
Yet, there is something different about the bye week this time for the team. The Texans had an early bye week last year, but for that team, they came into that bye a whopping 1-3-1. Interestingly enough, the team did manage to win the game before the bye week at that time.
“Very different vibe” one unnamed staffer noted. “Last year, it was all ‘Hey, just remember to get back in time to make the flight to Las Vegas, ok?’ Kinda laissez-faire type stuff. This year, the staff was all ‘Remember, don’t do anything stupid ok? We gotta come back after the bye ready to play!’ For CJ [Stroud], the team was all ‘Where are you going? Who is going to be with you? Do you have the requisite security and body armor? Did you provide us a detailed itinerary and multiple emergency contacts?’ For the other guy, whose name I can’t remember, but he had that neck...anyway, they were all ‘Hey, you want to go out and party like mad? Go for it! Wanna pick a fight with the Mexican Cartels? Want to skydive and scuba at the same time in chum-filled, shark-infested waters? Please do. Just don’t leave until we pay up the insurance...and we have all the tape the draft eligible QBss, okay?’”
Maybe the fact that the Texans came into the bye at 3-3 this season might have changed the perception. Given that they were only one game back of Jacksonville (now 1.5 games back) with a win in Jacksonville, there is a sense that maybe, this team will have more at stake in the back half of the season.
“Wait, you mean that you can have meaningful games that don’t involve draft position?” Opined a rather bemused Cal McNair. “I mean, I remember Daddy being all concerned about playoff seeding...that and dealing with the liberal press...but I thought those were only tales he told me before bedtime...that and telling me to get off the [KITTEN] video game consoles.”
“Well, I don’t know all about playoff seeding, but we really want to see our team do the best it can, and I am encouraged by the start of this squad, especially after rebounding from that 0-2 stumble.” GM Nick Caserio noted. Yet, while he stated that, he was also constantly checking the standings, especially for Arizona and Cleveland. Totally Not Fake News can’t confirm, but there were reports that he could be heard mumbling “Please don’t derp Houston! Please don’t derp! I don’t want to be mocked for that draft day deal. Please don’t screw me!”
Coach DeMeco Ryans was in a slightly different mood. “A bye week? Now?!? I mean, we never had one this early in San Francisco? Good grief, we might be a little too tired to advance to the conference title without a later bye! Did the NFL doubt me so much?!?!? Those lazy mother[KITTENS]!!!” He was about to run to Bush Intercontinental to get on a flight and in his own words “chokeslam Roger Goodell to [KITTEN]” but about 20 staffers immediately blocked the door. 10 of them suffered significant broken bones and two will be in traction for awhile, but Ryans eventually calmed down. We at Totally Not Fake News suspect that after executing seven successful Tombstone pile-drivers and five slingshot suplexes, Ryans finally got his heart rate back under 70.
If there was anyone particularly nervous about the bye week, it would come from the most unlikely of sources: The Texans front office.
“It is kinda funny to see, all of these big executive types being all nervous to come into the office” opined Toro. “All started with last season and when we ‘parted’ ways with this one front office guy. Made a lot of headlines. Was kinda of a big to-do from what I remember. I hear they are still trying to clean up the cattle prod marks in [Team owner] Mrs.[Janice] McNair’s office. Ah well.”
“Anyway, the story goes that before that guy was thrown unceremoniously out of the building, er, told we were going in a different direction, he put a curse on the building...saying that a front office exec will fall each year for the team. Yeah, we had that Loya thing a few months back, but honestly, the bye week came and gone and we didn’t sack anyone. Granted, there were concerns about it being like that Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching job, so we just didn’t have anyone fill the vacant Executive Vice President of Football Operations. We got an operations guy, and we have plenty of VPs, who are all killing it, by the way. Still, can’t be too careful.”
Most players are glad to be on a team that is playing well coming into the bye, and have some excitement about what is in store for the team. They get a chance to start the second half of the season with a duel with Carolina on the 29th. Some figure that the attention will all be on the quarterbacks, as Bryce Young and CJ Stroud went 1 and 2 in this year’s draft. We tried to reach out to Bryce Young but was unavailable for comment. Sources could not confirm that he was spending the bye week in a Bacta tank due to the pounding he has taken behind his current offensive line.
As for Stroud, he was taking it all in stride. “Nearly gave Coach Ryans a heart attack when I told him I was working on my picks this bye week. However, I very quickly told him that it was my college football picks, when I saw my vaunted, but clearly not as effective-without-me-under-center Buckeyes do what they always do: Beat Penn State. Good to see.”
When asked if he felt any emotions about being the 2nd pick vs. the #1, Stroud demurred. “Hey, I’m playing for a 3-3 team that is in the hunt for a division crown. We are young and growing stronger every day. I mean, not as strong as Coach Ryans deadlifting two F-350s in the parking lot, but getting there. We just going out and playing Texans football.”
While we tend to take him at his word, other sources seem to indicate that Stroud might have some...subtle opinions, such as this other unnamed staffer:
“Yeah, in a recent weight session, could overhear Stroud telling himself during a grueling set. “Taken #2, but [KITTEN]ing ain’t playing like #2. Taken #2, but [KITTEN]ing ain’t playing like [KITTEN]ing #2. Probably didn’t hurt that [Defensive Coordinator Matt] Burke came by at one point, telling Stroud that ‘1 ain’t always better. Remember kid, Hydrogen is 1 on the periodic table, but it is explosive and too easily lost when combined with other things. Helium is 2, noble, and way more stable as a gas. You want to be noble and stable, or easily combustible?’”
Regardless of what elements are in play for each QB, the Texans return to the field this coming Sunday, with a noon CST kickoff against the Carolina Panthers, with the hopes of getting off to their best start in 5 years. We shall watch and see.