Thursday, May 20, 2010
You've heard about the BP spill, gushing and spewing forth liquid energy threatening to impact everything and everyone with whom it comes in contact.
I'm talking about, of course, Bernard Pollard. He provided the soundtrack of enthusiasm for the Houston Texans at their organized training activities. Gutteral barks and roaring approval for drills, assignments, and effort by his teammates filled the air. This city was concerned about the void that would be left by the departure of the spirited Dunta Robinson. I'm here to report the void has been filled and our cup runneth over. No blowout preventer is going to put a cap on Pollard's intensity.
A seasoned veteran amp'd up to be on the field for voluntaryworkouts, #31 was leading by example. Other respected players were present and performed, but with a relatively subdued and casual style. Pollard and his presence transcended the event. He rode the stationary bike between drills, treated the blocking sled like you'd do Delonte West after finding his name in your mother's cell phone, and ruled the day with a fevered pitch just above that of a Pantera concert.
He spoke to me of the need for the team to be hungry, demand respect, and if it's not given...TAKE IT! I brought up the slow start of the squad in 2009, and asked who the leader of the defense is. BP confidently responded, "We're ALL leading by example. We're going to hit the ground running Week 1!"
Friday, May 14, 2010
Brian Cushing, AP Defensive Rookie of the Year despite requiring a voter recount in light of the surfacing of his having tested positive for a banned substance, spoke publicly and answered questions regarding this issue for the first and last time at Reliant Stadium in front of hoards of local and national media.
The press conference consisted of a 3-minute statement and 17 minutes of Q & A that because of the dynamic imposed by the organization, didn't allow for follow-up questions to explanations devoid of reason, logic, or probability. Of a dubious nature not seen since Slick Willy's "I did not have sex with that woman" were the overwhelming majority of the star linebacker's claims.
Cushing eluded to fear of tumors that could be the only culprit capable of causing a presence of hCG, given his training program and strictly adhering to a diet of supplements consistent with NFL standards. Though he spoke of a regimen as pure as the wind-driven snow, he slogged through excuses masquerading as explanations like curbside slush: yucky and miserable.
In the end, Brian's claims suffered the same result as that of a broken calculator: they just didn't add up. I have tumors, but I haven't pursued treatment...Tumors caused one indication of a presence of hCG, but no others...The NFL inaccurately defined me as guilty of taking banned substances, but I will pursue no vindication.
Brian's song was sour indeed.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Brian Cushing brought a ferocity and velocity, girth and worth, and athletic ability that yielded stability for a defense finally delivering for an organization in need of help on that side of the ball.
He brought to life the defense with a win at all costs attitude. Hard hits that occurered out of bounds?...15 yard penalty. But that same approach forced fumbles, harvested interceptions and echoed defensive scores.
That animated play is now officially suspended for the first quarter of the 2010 season that includes home games versus the Colts and Cowboys, and road games at Washington and Oakland. A schedule that was reasonably and realistically capable of 4 - 0 is now at risk of 0 - 4.
This was to be the year professional football in Houston took on a life of its own. Suspended animation, indeed!
Monday, April 26, 2010
The business at hand this past NFL Draft weekend was shoring up the team that at best in the past has hung its hat on almost deserving the success it almost earned. Well, as Police Chief Martin Brody said, "That's some bad hat, Harry."
The SmithIak System of building through the draft and shrewdly acquiring talent and filling needs via intelligent trades and risk-balanced free agency, has left our organization's front office looking into the teeth of the beast they're trying to reel in.
"You're gonna need a bigger boat."
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
It's time once again for the The Paper Texan to don the paper turban:
The Texans will start off 6 - 0 in a season where they sweep the NFC-East and set the city on fire with ridiculous expectations of a SuperBowl appearance. Now the bad news: upon responding to a then tough road loss at Indy to beat the Chargers at home and stand firmly at 7 - 1, the Texans go 2 - 5 before a week #17 win at home versus the Jaguars.
They will post a franchise best 10 - 6, and lose on the road in their first ever playoff game.
Despite the amazing start, the sweep of the NFC-East, finally splitting their division, and making it to the post-season, naysayerswill call for the firing of Smith and Kubiak.
They will not be fired, and the Texans will continue forward, onward, and upward!
In my best Ed McMahon, sounding a bit too much like Marv Albert, "Yes!"
Thursday, April 15, 2010
A week from tonight Houston and its Texans, hungry for the city's first playoffs victory since versus the Jets in 1991 and first playoffs appearance since losing to the Chiefs in 1993, set their sites on a successful season and playoffs participation.
They'll start by looking to have the most effective draft since 2006 when they picked up Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Eric Winston, and Owen Daniels. A draft with just half that efficiency will leave the team relatively "shored up" enough to compete for the AFC-South. Or, at least to be the biggest sibling to "Division Big Brother" Peyton's Colts.
First their needs: an offensive line...stay healthy and they'll have it. Running backs to hold onto the ball...nothing a little concentration can't solve. Defensive pass rush...better help in the secondary will fix that!
The Texans are projected to procure University of Texas standout #12! No, not that #12...their other#12: Earl Thomas. He'll join a productive and ascending defensive unit that wonderfully mixes youth, athleticism, and an ignorance of what they are too young to achieve with a maturity and experience to help them achieve it anyway. Thomas, Ryans, Cushing, Williams, Smith, Diles, Reeves, and "Bonecrusher" Pollard...? Bring back the House of Pain!
"Bartender...'Gimme draw' of that 2010 Draft!"
Monday, April 12, 2010
It's got a "half the distance to the goal" kind of "ring" to it, don't you think?
But, as you know, no matter how many times you're awarded half the distance to the goal, you never hit paydirt without delivering effort and execution on your part as well.
Can't you just smell, feel, and taste that the Texans are right there if a couple of things break their way this Draft and post-draft pre-season? What'll it be, and in what permutation: draft defensive bigs, or athletes? Or perhaps you prefer big beef up front on the O-line, or a running back witht the quicks to seize upon nicely executed blocking schemes? Do we then go out and round out the balance of our team's needs with cautious and heady free agent signings or shrewdly orchestrated trades? If the goal is a successful draft, off-season acquisitions, and a season that includes a playoff appearance, it's going to take effort and execution.
It's Twenty-Ten, make a good call!
Friday, March 5, 2010
The Houston Texans want to make sure they are cautious with free agents this offseason in the face of no Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the 2010 campaign.
CBA should stand for "Could've Been Awesome", because after this upcoming season's potential disappointment from executive decisions justifying frugal cowardice as caution, we'll be left to ponder what could have been.
Because the Houston market and Houston Texans marketing bear no financial pressure whatsoever on sound personnel decisions, there is no excuse for not keeping in tact a swiftly improving defense that "has each other's back" and the chemistry-rich and talented receiving corp.
You're so close, Mr. McNair. Now is not the time to fall back on patronizing statements like, "Well, we did an analysis that shows spending money has no correlation to winning." Sir, bad teams that spend money badly skew that statistic in favor of the point that for some reason you want to make. There's no excuse to not keep what's working, and improve on it. You're so close.
This offseason is the watershed moment in your football ownership career. You can do what's necessary to right the ship after having stumbled with unfortunate decisions (Tony Boselli, David Carr, Ahman Green) , but gotten back up with smart moves.
Everyone's favorite commercial these days ends with, "Fortune Favors the Bold!" Share some of your fortune with some bold moves and we'll see you in the playoffs!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
It's football. It's always been football. And it will always be football. Anything else is blatantly but mere filler. This week the NFL Combine takes place in Indianapolis to dissect the talent and project the potential of the country's best college football players who have declared themselves eligible for the 2010 Draft.
I know it's going to be difficult, but try to balance your excitement for the Olympics, anticipation of baseball, imminent March Madness, and the jostling for NBA playoff seeding with an appreciation for a real balancing act: The art of managing your emotional and visceral response to players at the combine with your cerebral recognition of what your team needs.
The business of football is one that calls for an exact science when there is none. That glaring deficiency is never more obvious than when reflecting on the results of the combine, upon which heavily rest decisions made in the Draft. Ultimately the question is, "Do we pick the best athlete, best football player, or best position player who fulfills our team's needs?"
It's enough to make your head swim. Example-based theories for all arguments abound, as does reasonable criticism of the eventual choice. But understand this: the foundation for success for a Houston Texans 2010 campaign begins this week. It's a balancing act of Olympic proportion!
Monday, January 4, 2010
Forgive the poetic symmetry that the Houston Texans' season ended the same way it began: with a New York Jets victory.
The Houston Texans finished above .500 with a 9-7 record with their 34 - 27 victory over the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium. But to make the playoffs, they would also need the Jets to lose against the Bengals in the league's last game played on the last day of the regular season. It was not to be as New York trounced Cincinnati 37 - 0.
Ultimately, however, this organization can hang its hat on this: four players sent to the Pro Bowl in Miami, a winning record for the first time in franchise history, and a season where their final effort included a 4th quarter 21-straight-point "come-from-behind" victory over the New England Patriots.
I hope your bags are packed for a 2010 season playoff appearance. Please return your seat back and tray table to their stowed positions...I have a feeling this team is getting ready to take off!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
One more game to complete the 2009 regular season.
When the Houston Texans host the New England Patriots Sunday at Reliant, much will be riding on a season finale against an opponent that all recognize has much more to gain by resting its star players than by risking injury prior to the start of what has shaped up to be the most challenging post-season of their gilded era.
The Texans can finish with a winning record for the first time in franchise history, save Coach Kubiak from being fired, and build upon the valuable experience of perseverance towards a season in 2010 that finally takes them to the post-season.
The playoffs for this year aren't a mathematical impossibility, they just require the two losses by the Jets, Ravens, or Broncos. Not likely, but certainly possible. And because all of the games these three teams play are after the conclusion of the Texans game, a win will mean that for the first time ever Houston will have completed a season still in the running for the playoffs. That's alot to play for.
Here's hoping the Texans resolve to play to their potential, and adhere to the principles of Texans Ethics:
1. Live each day with courage---don't be afraid to be your best.
2. Take pride in your work---it usually results in excellence.
3. Finish what you start---how about a full 60 minutes, fellas.
4. Do what has to be done---execute.
5. Be tough, but be fair---play with sportsmanship, but don't roll over.
6. If you make a promise, keep it---deliver on the potential of this team.
7. Ride for the brand---you're representing Houston, we're a proud city...
8. Talk Less, Say more---play between the whistles and get it done.
9. Know when to draw the line---aren't you tired of not being a winner?
10. Remember some things aren't for sale---leave it all on the field
One more win to have won more than ever.
Monday, December 14, 2009
O.K., Texans Fans: Here goes nothing!
The next two weeks on the road for our Texans pose opponents whose total wins combined do not come close to what our lovable 6 - 7 underachievers should have tallied by now: This Sunday in St. Louis versus the 1 - 12 Rams, then on to Miami against the currently 7 - 6 Dolphins.
On the road this season is where this team has done its best job focusing on the task at hand. They can return home to Houston with an 8 - 7 record to host the by then likely AFC-East Division clinching Patriots who will have more to gain by resting their stars than by risking injury to them prior to what will be the most challenging post-season of their guilded era.
Think about it...9 - 7 ! It may not guarantee playoffs, but it will be the organization's best record in franchise history, clemency for our coach currently being fitted with comfortable shoes for the Green Mile, and hope that maybe, just maybe, they can build on their first winning season towards a season with its first playoff victories.
Like I said, "Aqui nada va!" It's fun to sing it to the tune of "Feliz Navidad". Go ahead, try it. I dare you. You'll be singing it all day long!
See...I told you so!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Congratulations to the Houston Texans, their coaching staff, and fans on being one game shy of .500, and not being offically mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
But let me tell you a little story that will illustrate the problem with the Texans:
Just so you know, Tuesday is the "day off" in the NFL. In certain situations, head coaches will reward stellar performances on Sunday with an additional "day off" for the team's players on Monday...meaning the team gets the next two days off before reporting to practice and offical meetings regarding the installation of strategy and schemes for the next opponent. It's a big deal for players, even if they do have to swing by the stadium and facilities for physical therapy and/or other incidental tasks and errands.
I recall in my youth seeing taped post-game locker room addresses to his team by Dennis Greene after a big win. The excitement in those young men upon hearing they would be given the next day off was amazing. But, one time, even after a big win, their coach said, "We got a big win today, but we've still got some things to work on. I'll see you tomorrow."
Why does this matter? Because after last week's loss to Jacksonville I read that "although the Texans are usually given the day off following a loss, they will be working hard on Monday preparing for Seattle." Are you kidding me? Championship and otherwise playoff-caliber teams relish the opportunity to improve, not seek shelter from hard work to make what's wrong right. What do you mean they customarily recieve the following day off as reward for poor performance? They haven't even earned "far and few between" additional days off following wins comprised of 60 minutes of effort and excellence. Not that there have been any.
The Paper Texan says, "The thrilling experience of victory in competition is necessarily preceded by the genuine satisfaction that comes from having prepared for it." Get the pads on fellas, and run the soreness out of your legs.
It's your privilege, afterall.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Robert James Ritchie says,
"If it looks good, you'll see it. If it sounds good, you'll hear it. If it's marketed right, you'll buy it. But... if it's real, you'll feel it."
I got a real feeling it's time to fire Gary Kubiak. The Texans are a great bunch of guys with a whole bunch of football skills and athletic ability. But, they don't look good, and you can see it. The fans' reasonable complaints don't sound good, and you can hear it. They're certainly marketed right...Reliant continues to sell out, but critics are no longer buying that the Texans can get it done. And the real need to fire the coach and get the players motivated and the team on the path to success, well, you can just feel it.
The Texans either forfeit 17 - 0 leads for losses, or trail 17 - 0 unable to comeback due to a combination of poor play and worse playcalling. Sunday was an example of the latter. Their 23 - 18 loss to Jacksonville took them to 5 -7 on the season and all but mathematically eliminated them from playoff contention instead of putting them in the recliner for Monday Night Football rooting for Green Bay to defeat Baltimore to put them in a 6-way tie for an AFC WildCard spot.
Regarding the quote at the beginning of the article: Robert's stage name is Kid Rock. You got the energy to argue with him?
Monday, November 30, 2009
The yucky weather has arrived, and it's too late to take advantage of a beautiful opportunity to put the lights up. "That's O.K." you told yourself as you settled into squandering 3 hours of "honey do" prime time yesterday to watch the Houston Texans. Great start, disheartening lapses, and predictable finish as they relinquish an early 17 - 0 lead to fall 35 - 27 to the Indianapolis Colts. And the lights are still in that tangled mess somewhere in the garage.
The AFC WildCard race is still in contention. And as long as it is, the Houston Texans will play disappointingly. Once any chance at the post-season is mathematically eliminated, they will play loose and more effectively.
But that could take a couple of more weeks.
Jacksonville next week, on the road. Anybody care? Good. That's just what the Texans need to start playing better.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
There. You feel better already don't you?
You don't have to tell me that your Houston Texans have squandered equally potential and ability to post a 5 - 5 record. Their near misses against the Jaguars, Cardinals, Colts, and now Titans are why they are not 9 - 1 hosting 9 - 1 division rival Indianapolis this Sunday for a chance to sweep them this season and lead the division in December with an outright shot at a BYE going into the playoffs.
The inches with which their blown opportunities passed them by might as well be a mile. It really does come down to the fact that they do not have a running game. That does not mean Coach Kubiak should insist on calling running plays, it means the Texans need a running back.
Get one, Houston, and Thanksgiving next year your blessings will be bountiful. The city will be giving thanks for a well run franchise and bona fide championship-caliber team.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I have heard for 8 years how the city of Houston deserves better than their Texans.
I have said for 8 years the Houston Texans deserve better than this city's fans. I can prove it to you. A week from now on Monday night under the bright lights of national exposure that is Monday Night Football, the seats will be half-empty at Kick-Off. And once Reliant Stadium is as full as its going to get, 25% of the seats will be occupied by bitter, burnt-orange-wearing humanity cheering for Vince Young as he tries to lead the once-Oilers to a victory against the team that passed on him in the 2006 NFL Draft. At least the Buffalo Bills got the finger from Titans owner Bud Adams. Reliant's occupants will be giving it to their own team!
Your team will be "V.Y."-ing for Wild Card contention for the next 6 weeks, and this game means everything as far as getting off on the right foot. Will the city finally prove it deserves the privilege of an NFL franchise? Or will it point out excuses masquerading as explanations as to why they did not?
Lose the collegiate colors. This is "big-boy" football. Act like you belong in the elite club of cities that has an NFL team. Cheer for your team, not the visiting team's quarterback.
Monday, November 9, 2009
They say that failure is the best teacher. The Houston Texans have had their tassle moved from one side of their cap to the other so many times it resembles the motion of a windshield wiper. The Texans are a veritable PhD. in Disappointing Losses!
Fighting back against the Indianapolis Colts from a 13-0 deficit with a 56 yard field goal going into halftime, the Texans looked like a team ready to tear off the corner, rather than merely turn it. Two more touchdowns and they led their nemesis 17 - 13 in the 4th quarter on the road.
Tough defense and maybe even getting into the heads of the Colts (they felt they had to use a trick play: an intercepted pass off a halfback option!) looked like Matt Schaub was going to lead his team to a tie in regulation, or pehaps even a win.
If not for a Moats fumble on the 1 yard line earlier in the contest, the Texans would have been playing to preserve the win...not snatch it. The coaching staff with the equipment and knowledge to have advised the sideline to run a quick play to avoid a review was remiss in their responsibility. They would have earned the game ball in this victory, but...
The Texans are the greatest good team in the league. They were "right there" when it came to beating Indy on the road for the first time in franchise history. As Maxwell Smart would have said, "Missed it by that much."
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Opportunity knocks this weekend for both the Houston Texans as a team and for Joel Dreessen and James Casey as individuals. It's not just the idea of improving to 6 - 3 on the year with a win against a division foe they've beaten only one time (Kris Brown's winning field goal as time expired at Reliant December 23, 2006 ) in franchise history. It's the chance for Dreessen and Casey to prove they're capable of picking up the slack for All-Pro Warrior Owen Daniels, and becoming a part of franchise history in their own right!
Think about it. Two years ago, Daniels was considered a respectable player, but no one could have predicted successful delivery of his pursuit of excellence made necessary by the knee injury suffered by Andre Johnson in the second game of the season on the road in Carolina. But he blossomed over the next 7 games in Johnson's absence and became a viable target and potent part of the offense. So too can Joel and James in Daniels' absence. I see it in them. And judging from the playcall in the red zone at the end of the game against Arizona earlier this year, apparently Kyle Shanahan sees it too.
Ryan Moats was a sweet slice of serendipity. His 100+ yards were the silver lining in the clouded victory against Buffalo that unfortunately included an injury to Owen that put him out for the season. While nobody would have traded O.D. for a productive running back who took care of the rock, he was a nice surprise. Turnovers were minimized, addressed, and overcome. The continued cohesion on the other side of the ball resulted in stingy and punishing defense. And special teams continues to be just one breath away from improving upon delivering great field position to putting points on the board.
Lucas Field is a tough place to play. Peyton Manning is, well, Peyton Manning. But the biggest surprise to Texans opponents this year, especially of late, is that this is not the team they've studied on film. They're much better.
"Knock-Knock", Dreessen and Casey...It's opportunity!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The Houston Texans head to New York this week to take on the 3 - 4 Buffalo Bills. Both teams are looking to improve upon a two-game winning streak. For Houston, it is a chance to be 5 - 3 and taken seriously in the NFL. Both would be franchise firsts.
This game really comes down to Houston finally taking advantage of playing to its potential for 60 minutes, as opposed to playing down to the level of its competition. In front of the loyal Bills fanbase is no position to risk snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Buffalo's Quarterback Trent Edwards will not play because of a concussion, leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick (who?) at the helm of a team whose offensive line is decimated, running game is dismal, and receiving corp is anchored by the "he could blow any minute" underachieving Terrell Owens. Though Buffalo has made strides to strengthen its previously inexperienced linebacker positions via signings off the couch in September, they are still susceptible to Houston's potent passing attack and a potential break-out performance from the backfield.
The Texans are healthy, capable, and productive. Sound leadership from Schaub, ball security from Slaton and Brown, and continued excellence from the receivers will put 35 points on the board. Special Teams will maintain great field position. The continued cohesion of the defense will allow only 10 points.
This is a game the Texans could, should, and will win if they treat it like they respect themselves as much as they appreciate the opportunity to finally be taken seriously in the NFL. That would be a bountiful harvest with which to return from Orchard Park.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Finally. The Houston Texans are not force-feeding a running game with an offensive line challenged by loss of personnel and lack of experience. Matt Schaub lit up the 49ers defense in the first half with TD passes to Owen Daniels and Steve Slaton. He led another drive punctuated by a Steve Slaton rushing TD, giving them a 21 - 0 lead at the half.
Quin, Barber, Reeves, and Robinson provided a "bend, but don't break" defense of Michael Crabtree and the wily veteran Isaac Bruce for the first half. Coach Michael Singletary benched the struggling Shaun Hill who gave up a sack to both Zgonina and Williams. Alex Smith seized upon the availability of his tight end Vernon Davis in the seams down the middle of the field for 3 TDs in the 2nd half.
If not for a clutch 50-yard Kris Brown field goal halfway through the 4th quarter to increase Houston's lead to 24 - 14, the 49ers would have come back to tie the Texans. Coach Kubiak's team continues to struggle to put away teams, allowing potential comebacks with possessions forsaked by the now alarmingly all too familiar lost fumbles by Steve Slaton.
But the Texans hung on to win 24 - 21. For the first time in franchise history, they look to successfully defend the winning record they take into the month of November. They face the struggling Buffalo Bills before they then travel to still perfect Indianapolis.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Can play with them. Can win with them. Can coach with them. Can do it.
This Sunday at High Noon the showers will have passed through, the sun will have come out, and the roof will be open for the first time this season. Oh, and the Houston Texans will wield a winning record for the first time this season, too. Count on it.
The offense, especially if allowed to play to its strengths, will have no problem putting up enough points to win, even against San Francisco's 10th-rated defense.
Only Oakland's offense, held to a pair of field goals three weeks ago at Reliant, is less productive than that of San Francisco. Despite flu-like symptoms, Bernard Pollard will rebound to join Robinson and Cushing in setting the tone this weekend for a victory that will be referred to on Monday as the franchise's greatest win. Here's why:
This football team has responded to disappointment not with discouragement, but encouragement and perseverance to a point of superior play on many fronts. To have so quickly rebounded from a 1 -2 start with no home wins in two attempts, to 4 - 3 with a chance to go one better against lowly Buffalo, is remarkable.
That's why we love this game, and why we love this team. Not just that they can be great, but they can still be great despite a tough start. That's why football is the quintesential emobodiment of the American spirit of teamwork, strategy, endurance, resiliency, and conquest through sacrifice. The Texans are as lucky to have you as you are to have them, and that's why this team is perfect for the city of Houston.
That's why you love your Texans!
Monday, October 19, 2009
While it's nice to know you've got players who will run through a bri