I've always known Houston sports fans to be some of the biggest knee-jerk reactionists out there, but the past few days have been overwhelming.
I realize that when you are a playoff team and you drop a contest to a 1-13 team on national television, that's going to happen. But to be packing it in for the season is a bit much. Everyone needs to step away from that ledge, take a deep breath and just stop panicking for a moment while you still have hair. And I'm going to tell you why.
First off, the simple reason is that the Texans already have clinched a home playoff game. Sure, they blew a golden opportunity at a first-round bye, but those chances were already pretty dang slim. The worst (and best) they can finish is with the No. 3 seed in the AFC. If I told you at the beginning of the season that the Texans would lock up that spot with a game left to play, you'd have been doing back flips.
Next, Andre Johnson will be coming back for the playoffs and maybe the regular season finale. By now we all know that he's healthy and the team is just keeping their eye on the prize and that is the NFL postseason. Andre has even said himself that if it was a playoff game, he'd be playing. With Andre in the lineup, everyone gets better. Yates stops checking down all the time, Foster and Tate improve with one less guy in the box and Owen Daniels is pretty much wide open all day long.
Then we have the return of Wade Phillips to the Texans' sideline. The team can spew all that rhetoric that they ran the same game plan that Wade would have had he been there all they want. But it was clear that coach Herring wasn't quite as accomplished at making adjustments on the fly. The pass rush has been poor, to say the least, and the blitz packages have been underwhelming. I just can't imagine Dan Orlovsky having his uniform as clean as it was last Thursday had Wade been wearing the headset. Morale will get a major boost with the Son of Bum back this Sunday and beyond.
Lastly, we have the Texans' home-field advantage. I know I've given Houston fans a hard time a lot recently and I stick by my assessment that they're a fairweather group of fans that probably ranks pretty close to the top of the sports hemisphere. But they are great fans when the team is winning and they know how to be loud. With this being the first NFL playoff game in Houston since January 16th, 1994, I have no doubts that Reliant is going to be loud and proud on wild-card weekend. Be it the Raiders, Jets, Broncos or Bengals, I don't see any of those teams' quarterbacks coming into that kind of atmosphere and having success. Ask Matt Ryan how hard it is to run an offense there under those circumstances.
In the end, I'm not so sure why Texans fans are so nervous right now. To me, after Matt Schaub went down with season-ending surgery this team was playing with house money anyways. Anything they did in the postseason was just going to be gravy, really. I guess that is just the stubborn realist in me, but if they lose in the first or second round, my reaction will be the same. They did an admirable job overcoming severe adversity and I'll be proud as hell of them no matter how far they go. Even if they go nowhere in the postseason.