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Texans Totally Not Fake News: A new era begins...part III

And this time...the Houston Texans really, really, really mean it.

Miami Dolphins v Houston Texans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

HOUSTON - It is the dawn of a new era for Houston Texans football. New coaching staff, new system, new projected starting quarterback, and a sense that maybe, things will start to improve.

“Well, can’t suck any worse than the last two times we did” noted one unnamed Texans staffer.

“How many times can we say ‘A New Era?’ [DURGA] [KITTEN], I am running out of ways to market this!!!” lamented one frustrated staffer. “For [DURGA] sakes, the thesaurus only has so many ways to say ‘new’ , ‘beginning’, and ‘please come watch us or I will lose my job’ and we have just about exhausted those. Ya know what might actually be nice? Conti-[KITTEN]-nuity!!! Please, for all things holy...”

While the team did not publicly acknowledge the lament of the staffer, at least before throwing him off the roof of NRG Stadium, there is a sense that promoting the newness of the team/staff/etc. is getting a little rote. This was the recent pre-training camp press release (unaltered):

“We, the Houston Texans, are proud to welcome [Insert Head Coach name] and his staff. We feel that [Insert Head Coach name] will bring a new era and excitement to the team. We are especially thrilled with the new staff coming to support [Insert Head Coach name]. This includes [Insert Offensive Coordinator name] and his innovative offense systems which we feel will do wonders to help out [Insert name of latest franchise QB hopeful] in our overarching goal to make tons of money win the Super Bowl. We also welcome [Insert Defensive Coordinator name] as he looks to install a new defensive scheme and mindset that will carry on the great tradition of tough Texans’ defense. We look forward to taking your money inviting you to join us on our new (and improved) reset as we move forward to bigger and better profit margins on-field results”

Yet, even if there is a sense of deja vu all over again, for the third time, there was also a sense that maybe this time it will work out. Many felt that DeMeco Ryans was the best new head coach candidate on the market. A former team leader for the Texans, the ex-linebacker is now tackling the challenge of revitalizing this morbid franchise. He is especially noted for bringing new energy and vitality to the squad.

“Well, duh! Of course he would do that. This is the first coach in three years who isn’t collecting Social Security. What did you expect?” Noted one unnamed staffer.

While Ryans is working on broadening his coaching acumen, he hasn’t completely forgotten his player roots. At one point during the team’s recent pre-season loss to Miami, when the squad surrendered 205 yards rushing, Ryans apparently walked over to Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke and asked if he could find some shoulder pads that would fit. Apparently, Ryans said something to the effect of “...gotta show these kids how it’s done...” Burke, who was not real thrilled himself, noted that Ryans would be better served staying out of the fray. “Sometimes, a severe [KITTEN]-kicking is the best way to impart a lesson to the kids.”

Miami Dolphins v Houston Texans
[DURGA] [KITTEN], I could make those tackles!!! I could...nope, nope...I am the head coach here. Not the MLB anymore...remember Matt [Burke’s] words.
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

It has been quite the roller-coaster time for Burke. He saw the best and worst of defensive performances between the New England game and the Miami contest. While he didn’t lose his temper outwardly, some observers noted that in the Miami game, if he saw a player miss another tackle, he marked a name on a list he was carrying. One thought he saw a column labelled “Lion Feed.”

“Lotta LBs were in that column by the end of the game” an unnamed staffer dryly noted.

Still, he is trying to integrate a new system and new players. Burke seemed mildly impressed with Will Anderson, but thought it prudent to limit his pre-season action after he destroyed a RB and QB on a bee-line pass rush in the second quarter. “Think of the Lions in Africa, Will. They use stealth to get closer, and then they strike. Don’t flash TOO much, too quickly. The slow blade is the most effective” Burke mentored the Alabama product.

NFL: AUG 19 Preseason - Dolphins at Texans
He can call a run blitz out of a dime prevent in Spanish...while talking in Swahili. He is the most interesting Defensive Coordinator in the World
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It is also possible that the defensive players were a little tired from the new training methods. “When Burke first got here, he eschewed all the usual ‘run through tires and rope ladders’ things. Wanted to bring in this new footwork drill he saw on one of his many treks to Africa:

The source continued. “Well, the players weren’t really sure, but when Burke started quoting the rush yards allowed stats from last season, resistance faded. All were game, but when three defenders tore their Achilles and several others reported sprained ankles, Burke pulled the plug on that drill. Not that Burke isn’t trying to innovate, but sometimes, things can’t happen overnight.”

When asked about this, Burke demurred. “Hey, these things take time. Here in America, we rush things a little too much. Need to take the perspectives of other parts of the world. Things take time.”

Still, more was going on in camp aside from new defensive drills. The QB situation is drawing the most headlines, with signs pointing to CJ Stroud being the money-favorite to open the season as the starter.

“Been a learning process, but I feel like I am improving daily.” Stroud stated. While his first preseason performance was not especially memorable, he did seem to learn from that and played better. “Learned very quickly that the game is a little different in the NFL. When we played in New England, I realized quickly that it wasn’t Rutgers we were playing. They actually had players that could, you know, play real football. Actually had to learn the playbook as well. The Ohio State scheme, it was just “go out, get open, I’ll get you the ball.” Now, you have to actually communicate with your teammates, and you have to make sure you are on the same page. That fourth down play with Schultz, I think I told him the standard OSU goal-line play like we did against Indiana to just “go near the endzone”, but it didn’t register. So much to work on, but I think I will get there.”

Miami Dolphins v Houston Texans
Oh [KITTEN]! This ISN’T like playing Indiana! Why did I think it would be like that?!?
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

There was some thought that perhaps Case Keenum could open the season as a starter, given his experience, but he apparently injured his throwing arm. While not officially reported, Totally Not Fake News received internet-based reports that Keenum suffered this possible injury while in a fight with long snapper Jon Weeks. We don’t know all the details, but there were AARP cards and a walker involved. There are rumors of another QB who might gain some consideration, but we can’t rightly recall who that might be...

“Hey, wait a minute, I am a quarterback too?” exclaimed some guy who bore a resemblance to a massive, slow-moving human giraffe. “I started two seasons’ worth of games for this team. I can still throw the ball, I can still make plays...” We think this man-giraffe said his name was Davis Mills, but our records show no one of any competent QB skills with that label. Perhaps the team means EJ Perry?

Miami Dolphins v Houston Texans
An (alleged) photo of this QB...or so “he” claims
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

At any rate, the Texans, now 1-1 this preseason, have one more game, a primetime tilt with New Orleans. No preseason championship is on the line this year, but maybe a last chance to see Stroud in a dress-rehearsal before the live production opens in Baltimore? A chance to see if any of Burke’s new drills work? Maybe see Keenum and Weeks co-exist peacefully? All this, and perhaps a chance to figure out who that annoying giraffe-necked man really is and why he is allowed to wear a Texans jersey at practice, await next week.