Along the Gulf Coast football dominates sports interest. Mostly it's college football, but three NFL entries dot the coastline too. Two have won a Super Bowl since the millenium turned. One city hasn't seen a championship since the recently departed Bud Adams' long-gone Oilers, led by George Blanda, resided there. That was 52 years ago.
The current entry sports the name of another old AFL original, the Dallas Texans, who, to the bafflement of Dallas, moved to Kansas City to become the Chiefs after beating the Oilers in the 1962 AFL title game. So somehow, it seems at least confusingly appropriate that the new team should have been named the Texans.
The team has had exactly two head coaches in its short history, Dom Capers from 2002-2005 and Gary Kubiak from 2006 until the present. There's little question that under Kubiak the team improved generally, going from doormat to .500 fairly quickly.
But big things were expected of them. The talent seemed there. Despite a 6-10 finish in 2006 (the best in their history), the Texans improved to 8-8 in 2007. Then they lost their first 4 games in 2008, Kubiak's third season, but rallied to another 8-8 record. The next year they seemed primed for a wildcard run. They were. Despite 4 damaging division losses, and despite no hope of catching Peyton Manning's Colts, they entered the last two weeks with a clear shot and would finish with their first winning record at 9-7. But fans both in Houston and in the AFCE will recall that the Bengals and Colts, the final two opponents of the New York Jets, had clinched their spots early and tanked both games to New York, propelling the Jets into the wildcard and, somehow, the conference title game. Nevertheless, Houston looked headed in the right direction.
It wasn't. In 2010, the team took a 4-2 record into their bye week. The rest of the way they went 2-8, finishing at a dismal 6-10 and leading the league in such categories as missed tackles. The coaching was becoming widely suspect. Many thought that was overdue. At the completion of the team's 9th season they still had yet to make the playoffs and seemed headed back into futility with a single 9-7 year on the 'marginal success' side of their resume.
Then came 2011. Despite losing Matt Schaub in the 10th game and sub Matt Leinart in the 2nd quarter of the 11th, the Texans rode into their 14th game with a 10-3 record and rookie T.J.Yates at quarterback. Hopes ran high, even as they lost their last three games. Not a good way to go into the playoffs, but at least they were there, and scored their first playoff win over Cincinnati before falling to the Ravens. It wasn't what fans thought them capable of, but understandable enough in light of the injuries.
In 2012 the Texans seemed poised to take over. Widely heralded as the best team in football by midseason, with star power on both sides of the ball, they came to New England for a prime time contest at 11-1. They would leave 11-2 after being thoroughly demolished 42-14 in a game not as close as the score would indicate. Though they bounced back against Indy the next week, the die was cast. They would lose their last two games, then repeat their performance in the playoffs by beating Cincinnati at home before returning to New England for revenge. The widely anticipated game was another debacle, this time 41-28, again decided early as New England ran up a 31-13 lead entering the 4th.
The dismal performance by Houston at the end of the season, losing 3 of their last 4 regular season games, bowing in their second playoff game, and in the process being drawn and quartered twice by New England, seems to have had a lingering effect. The team is 2-5 at this writing and has lost Schaub again. After winning their first two games, they've now lost 5 in a row. Kase Keenum, an undrafted rookie out of the hometown U, played well against the undefeated Chiefs but Houston lost by a hair.
What now? Schaub, his ankle ligaments torn, is still deemed healthy enough to start, but Keenum will get another shot. Schaub isn't happy with the decision but accepts it. The message seems to be that no one is untouchable. It doesn't just smack of desperation, it is desperation. With the Colts playing better than most had anticipated, the Texans' 2-5 record is an immense hole to climb out of. Wild cards aren't growing on trees this season.
It is clear from their history that the Texans have been snake-bit any number of times. But it is equally clear that when reasonably healthy they haven't performed up to expectations. What is the problem? Is it untimely injuries? Is it poor coaching? Lack of depth? Do they have exploitable holes that no one but the teams that play them can see?
One thing is certain. Gary Kubiak, not long ago on the griddle to the point of being the stuff of office pools, turned things around somewhat in 2011, then by late-season 2012 looked revived and untouchable. It is likely that even in a city and on a team that seem to exhibit patience unseen in other venues, his seat is getting more than warm again. They have gained the unenviable tag of underachievers. If this Texans' season ends early, and it may have already, look for Houston to begin searching for its third franchise head coach. Somethin' sure ain't workin'. And you can't fire the team.
Out of rankings: (8) Washington, (23) Florida, (25) N’western
Many of you probably know where to find my other blogs (such as more detailed rankings discussion) by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know. The above is my first purely mathematical ranking.
What needs to be done with Matt Schaub? A question Texans coach Gary Kubiak has certainly been rolling around in his head all week. In five games Schaub has thrown nine interceptions, four of which have been returned for defensive touchdowns. It seems that despite fan disapproval, Kubiak is trying to save face by letting Schaub sort through the situation on his own. However, if there is one thing the Texans don’t have it is time. Right now the division belongs to the Colts and the window of opportunity for the Texans to right the ship can close rapidly with several more losses. That being said, is replacing Schaub really the answer? Better yet, is J.J. Yates really the answer?
While watching tv this past weekend Sunday night announcer Cris Collinswerth made a great point when he suggested that Yates was replacing Schaub with a less experienced Schaub! Many Texan supporters allude to the playoff game that Yates won several years back as ammunition for a change. The argument suggests that if Yates can replace Schaub, and lead the team to a victory in the playoffs, then he can win now. The truth of the matter is that the Texans have faced pretty substantial defenses over the course of their three week losing streak. While Baltimore is only a shell of their former self in the secondary their line still remains #6 against the run, an integral part of the Texans offense. The Texans then faced both Seattle and San Francisco which are ranked #6 and #5 respectively in total defense. This is not an easy task for any QB, especially one who is only slightly above average. Any argument in favor of Yates leading victories against those defenses wouldn’t even begin to hold weight in my opinion.
Sadly, the schedule for Houston doesn’t get any better. Matchups against the Chiefs (#7 total defense), Colts (#11 total defense) and Cardinals (#3 rushing defense) in the upcoming weeks means there is little room for further offensive error.
Now, all this isn’t to remove all the blame from Schaub…….he definitely still needs to be held accountable but to suggest that Yates is an adequate replacement at this point in their schedule would be nothing short of ludicrous. If the Texans have any hope for the playoffs, and Kubiak wants to keep his job, the only logical decision is to keep playing Schaub and hope that he can work out the kinks.
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. Last week, I mentioned two big games that I was excited about…and both were epic games for me. All of the so called experts predicted a rough day for one Johnny Football. With a year of losing sticking in Nick Saban’s craw, prevailing wisdom said there was no doubt that Bama would have an answer for the petulant Aggie QB in the rematch. Another year and another big day for Johnny Manziel. Since Saban has hit his stride at Bama (2008), only 4 teams have reached 30 points against the Crimson Tide. The Aggies put up 42 on Saturday. Here are the totals for Manziel: 98 yards rushing. 28 completions in 39 attempts for 464 yards and 5 TDs. The last part of the stat line was the difference in the game…2 interceptions. As great as Johnny Manziel is, sometimes you just have to take a sack. Both of the interceptions he threw were killers, but the pick six was the one that sealed the deal. You know who Manziel reminds me of? Doug Flutie on steroids. Not off the field mind you, but as he runs around making crazy throws work, I am reminded of Flutie. Hey, I realize there is much to not like about Johnny Manziel the kid, but damn if he does not have some of the magic that Flutie had. It really is too bad that Flutie was not born 20 years later. Boy, would Doug Flutie have loved being a QB today. Hell…after watching him pitch in the knuckleball competition, he still looks like he could play today.
Before last Saturday, there has only been one college QB that has performed better in the rematch against Saban. A Purdue QB named Brees threw for 196 and 2 TDs in 1998 against Saban's Spartans. In the rematch Brees went wild for 509 yards and 5 TDs.
I caught an article yesterday on SB Nation that was an excerpt of interview with Peter King asking Nick Saban about Manziel’s chances to play in the NFL. When asked this question, Saban put his things down and turned to make eye contact then replied, "I think Johnny's a unique player," he said. "Many people have said about these guys, like Robert Griffin III, that they're not really NFL-style quarterbacks. But yet they're all doing pretty well in the NFL.
"I think when somebody's as instinctive as [Manziel] is, and as fast as he is, and as athletic as he is, and he's developing into a pretty good passer-I mean last year he really developed as a passer-I do think he has an NFL future." Saban told Sumlin after the game that the game took 10 years off of his life. Watching him on the sideline, I bet he was only half kidding… After watching this game, King is now a believer in the talent of Johnny Football, but he knows that there are many NFL GMs that remain unconvinced and his size is the stated reason. I also have questions about Manziel’s ability to play at the next level, but it has nothing to do with his size. Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have proven that an undersized QB can be successful in the NFL. For Johnny Football to succeed at the next level, he will have to stop throwing those prayers into the middle of the field. I know that several of them were answered last Saturday, but the NFL is a different story. Leadership and commitment also are big questions for me at this time. We all fondly remember Fran Tarkenton. Of course he is remembered for his zany ability to scramble out of trouble. But, if you go back and watch those old videos…he hardly ever ran for yardage. He used his athleticism to buy time to find a receiver. I do think that Manziel can learn to do this. For all of Manziel’s speed, I think it would best be utilized in escaping pressure and not running for yardage. I can see Manziel doing the Tarkenton thing in the NFL, can you? The advantage of scrambling is that it takes the shorter QB out of the pocket and allows them to see their target. It also wears out a defensive line. One of my favorite parts of the old Tarkenton NFL films was listening to the Defensive lineman curse Tarkenton. They absolutely hated chasing that little guy around. It could work for Johnny too, but first he has some big steps to take to make it to Sunday. Those steps are often much harder off the field than on. I hope he figures it out, because he sure is fun to watch. I just hope he does not end up being this guy:
Do you remember Martel from The Replacements? Johnny, don't be this guy!
I read a few comments from fans complaining about the lack of defense. The game was pretty much what I expected. I did not figure that Bama could stop Johnny and after watching the Aggies allow Sam Houston State to roll up yardage and points…I knew the Aggies could not stop Bama. While I am here…how about a big congratulations to the other QB in the game last Saturday! The 49 points that the Crimson Tide scored did not just fly up on the board by themselves. A. J. McCarron has been known as a “game manager”…but Saturday he was anything but. In truth, he looked like a polished senior QB at a big time football school. I never thought much about McCarron abilities as a QB, because he has never had to do too much for Bama to win. With that great offensive line and power running attack, there has been no need for McCarron to throw the ball 30 times in a game, until last Saturday. After falling behind to A&M again, McCarron was the reason that Bama did not lose again. As I reflected on this game, I am left with an surprising image…AJ McCarron is a very good QB. In fact, I think he very much helped his NFL draft stock with this game. He has a much stronger arm than I imagined and his accuracy was impressive. His numbers for the game were excellent…20 of 29 for 334 and 4 TDs. This was a big time performance on the biggest stage. The difference in this game was the ability of McCarron to deliver the ball on target in critical situations…without an interception. To my eyes, this was the difference in the game…I suspect those NFL GMs would agree.
You may have heard rumors that Nick Saban is traveling to Austin to visit with folks on the 40 acres. I really have no idea if this is true or not, but it is impossible to ignore. Things are not good in Austin at the moment as the Longhorns are reeling from back to back losses. Talk radio is blistering over the inability of Texas to stop the run. Teams run the same play over and over again and the coaches and players seem unable to make any adjustments. I am a big Mack Brown fan and really respect what he has done at Texas. I was very hopeful that he would be able to turn things around before he retired. I have thought long and hard about what Saban coming to Texas would mean and I have to admit that this would be good for the football program. Texas needs a coach that is hands on. Texas needs a coach that is more than a figure head. Once upon a time, Mack Brown was a great coach, but now he does not coach. Besides...it would really piss off the Aggies if Saban came to Austin...so, what the hell? Saban does look good in burnt orange as well.
The Seattle/San Fran game was not quite the close game that many expected. I know for San Francisco fans, it was disappointing to see Seattle thump their squad…but I found it compelling. Hey, the 9ers are for real and they will be back. Their front 7 on defense and Kaepernick are simply too good not to win at least 12 games. Seattle is a different team at home almost unbeatable when they play like they did on Sunday. I know that Kaepernick will get the blame for losing this game, but his receivers simply could not get any separation on the Seahawks secondary. I really think that the next time they play that San Fran needs to pound the rock. Use the great wheels of Kaepernick to burn them on a few zone reads and make Seattle put a safety in the box. It certainly will be better than what they did on Sunday. It is early in the season and although Seattle looked tough, they will go on the road to St. Louis or Indy and lose…mark my words. This was an emotional game for the Seahawks and everything played out perfectly for them. But the 49ers get another shot at them December 8th…I will definitely be watching the rematch.
Farewell Tour for Mo...
Switching gears a bit…since the Twins presented Mariano Rivera with the ultra cool rocking chair made out of broken bats…there have been a long list of teams presenting Mo with retirement gifts. In case you are like me and missed a few of them, I figured I might as well check out the list and see what’s what. Here we go:
The KC Royals and Seattle Mariners made a donation to Rivera’s charity. Nice…but not too original.
The Colorado Rockies also donated to Mo’s charity, but they presented him with a giant check too…Happy Gilmore would approve. Not sure who the presenter is...
The Los Angeles Angels gave Rivera a large oil painting of himself.
The LA Dodgers presented Mariano with a very nice rod and reel…of course Magic had to join the presentation.
The San Diego Padres came through with custom bikes for the entire family…pretty cool.
The White Sox somehow still had the first scorecard from Mariano’s first game at Comiskey Park and they made this their gift.
The Orioles took a page from the Twins and gave Mo a bronzed broken bat.
The Mets went with the fireman theme and presented Rivera with a mounted fire hose nozzle and a call box.
Oakland As…a surfboard and wine.
The Tigers- framed pictures of Mo with dirt from the mound in Detroit.
Tampa Bay gave Mo a sand sculpture as in the Sandman.
The Rangers…a cowboy hat and custom boots.
The Indians were clever…a gold record of Metallica’s Enter the Sandman.
The Red Sox went way cool in giving Mo the 42 from the hand operated scoreboard at Fenway.
The Twins began this thing with the totally cool rocking chair from broken bats.
All of these gifts were great, but one thing stood out for me. The Red Sox team presented Mo with the 42. Most of the other teams had a manager or management do the presenting. We have all written something about Rivera over the past few months. I think it is clear that everyone at the Gab recognizes the unique brilliance of this man. As great as he was a player, his actions as a man will be what I remember. The Sandman is a class act that will no doubt be a first ballot hall of famer. Well done Mr. Rivera, enjoy your retirement and thanks for the memories.
In his classy way, Mariano Rivera had one last message for the Red Sox. This was on the wall in the Fenway visitors dug out.
In case you can't read the message...it says: Last to wear #42. Thank you for everything. Now, that is how you say goodbye...
If I say the name Chubbs…surely you know who I mean. If you have seen Happy Gilmore, you immediately recognize the character that lost his hand to an alligator while playing golf. I know this is not funny, but apparently there is a real life Chubbs. Harold Lunger was golfing in Cancun when this incident happened. I left this in the article form to give an exact account...
The 50-year-old engineer took a couple of practice swings and then chipped out of the bunker. He heard leaves rustle.
“All of a sudden, his arm went back, and his head went back,” pal Mark Martin recalled. “I saw the crocodile leap up.”
The angry female chomped down on Lunger's left arm up to his elbow, using its tail and claws to drag Lunger to the sand, the men said.
“She pulled me back and flipped me, and I went to the ground,” Lunger said.
The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Holtsville resident managed to brace himself by getting a knee on the ground.
“The crocodile was holding me down, and I pulled myself out,” he said. “I don't remember even doing that.”
Adding insult to the devastating injuries he faced, Lunger said Iberostar reps began pressuring him to sign papers absolving the resort of responsibility — and when that failed, it allegedly spread rumors that Lunger prompted the attack by teasing the croc with chicken.
“We came with nothing,” Martin fumed. “We rented the clubs there. We [bought] the balls there. Where would we be getting chicken?”
Let’s be real…can you envision a couple of guys bringing some chicken to the golf course to tease the gators? Really? The resort deserves to get nailed if for nothing else being stupid. I am no gator expert, but this mama was probably pissed that the golfer got too close to her young uns…It does make you appreciate playing courses without water. This resort might want to consider adding signs warning their guests about gators.
The Astros have made news for being terrible and making a huge profit doing it. There was a time that my son and I watched almost every Astro game, but no more. The Astros signed a new TV deal leaving Fox Southwest and joining with CSN in Houston. The problem is that the signal reaches an estimated 40% of the folks in the Houston viewing area. Of course, I am not sure it matters this year…for their Sunday game against the Angels, they drew a .004% share of viewers…915 households or about 1000 people watched the game. The turnaround better happen quickly or the Astros may not have any fans left.
Given how bad the Astros have been the past few years, I guess I have to look for humor whenever it happens. I had to add this video of a very unique play from Tuesdays Astro/Reds game. A new phrase has been coined...you do not want to be out with a butt tag...just ask Jonathan Villar. A brutal way to be out.
That’s all I have for today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…
"I think people tend to forget that trees are living creatures. They're sort of like dogs. Huge, quiet, motionless dogs, with bark instead of fur."
"It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man."
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…