Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Will New Year Bring New Texans?

The Houston Texans will gaze into the abyss this weekend, challenged to face without blinking what is staring back at them. At 5 - 10 with only one game remaining this season, this team awaits the inevitable: their campaign's sad, final curtain upon the conclusion of their matchup versus the Jacksonville Jaguars on January 2nd.

Who would have thought back in September that this team stood a very good chance of losing more than twice as often as they won? But this has been the most disappointing season the city of Houston has ever been asked to endure by any of its professional sports franchises.

The Rockets falling to the Jazz in the Western Conference Championship in 1998 was nothing. The Astros getting swept in the World Series by the White Sox in 2005 does not compare either. Those premature ends to otherwise would-be championship seasons were not nearly as devastating as the 2010 Houston Texans effort (insert sarcastic joke here) because the Rockets and Astros competed but fell to better teams.

There's not a fan, analyst, coach or player that can deny the following: The Texans underachieved and shortchanged themselves on what could have been the most special year of football in the history of Houston. But they let it slip away. Over and over again they found ways to lose.

Now, with an off-season just 60 minutes of regulation play away and then only time to ponder what would could have been, and maybe even what should have been...How will this team perform? If history is any indication, they play best when they have nothing left to lose.

Just because the Houston Texans are staring into the abyss does not mean they have to play abysmal football. Never mind if Houston deserves to be in the NFL playoffs...let's find out if this team deserves to play football in Texas! This state holds the game of football to high standards. Here's hoping the New Year finds the home team in a position to have elevated theirs.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Beautiful Day for Football

Sunday, October 17, 2010 still felt like Summer. There was sunshine in the air and warmth in your heart as you held, if guarded, great expectations for your Houston Texans. You had waited nine years for something special from this team for the first time since their 19 - 10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. And now, after a thrilling comeback win against the Chiefs, here they were at 4 - 2 going into a Bye-week to prepare to win on the road in Indianapolis against a team they throttled at Reliant Stadium to christen and begin the long awaited success of what would be the 2010 season.

Then over the next nine games they mustered only one additional win to now sit at 5 - 10 before concluding their sad, pathetic season on January 2nd. Two days into the new year the Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars to at least try to end their season on a positive note.

Just two weeks ago, owner Bob McNair assured restless Houstonians that he himself had been assured by his colleages that this team was on the right track, despite the many headscratching collapses masquerading as heartbreaking defeats. And then they racked up two additional losses in everybit as befuddlingly a fashion.

The weather forecast leading up to this weekend's game is dark, gloomy, and rainy. But it will be sunny and spring-like for the game on Sunday. It will be a beautiful day for football. Let's hope we see some!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More SmiBiak a Lump of Coal

The Houston Texans are at what we will look back on five years from now and realize was the precipice of their future. How they negotiate this dangerous divide between mediocrity and outright failure as an organization will determine how professional football in Houston is viewed and experienced for the better part of the next decade.

When your time is up, your time is up. "One more year to pull things together" is the request on the calling card of every underachiever...whether a son, a salesman, or a head coach. The SmiBiak (Rick Smith/Gary KuBiak) regime is over. It's been over, as has been demonstrated on so many levels in so many ways. The same degree of benefit lost by not making a mid-season change, is going to manifest itself in the form of an equal amount of detriment suffered.

Collective Bargaining Agreement, sma-lective bargaining agreement. This is a billionaire's several times over multi-hundred million dollar business. Having to be on the hook for the salary of a coach to whom you erred in extending his contract in the first place just isn't that big a deal. In fact, it ought to diminish the doom and gloom of the guilt of firing a man just days before Christmas. In other words, no waking up in the middle of the night during your Christmas Eve slumber scared to death that you think you may have heard the rattling and clanking chains of Jacob Marley.

The important thing is the Texans were improved upon as an organization and as a team, and Gary Kubiak deserves great credit for that. But, as he has shown, he's not the person to lead the Texans to the next level. No shame there. He should be proud of immediately elevating a 2 - 14 team to 6 - 10 on its way to its first ever winning season last year.

But it is time for the next stage of thrusters to continue the jettison of this team to its next level of success. McNair's loyal legion of fans deserves as much. It would infuse this city with hope and good cheer as they wait, yet again, to "get 'em next year!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Same Curse, Different Verse

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.

Regarding the quote at the beginning of the article: Robert's stage name is Kid Rock. You got the energy to argue with him?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Standing on the banks of Lake Whatawedonow?

O.K., armchair-owners... What do we do now?

Our firstround, first-pick overall career-underachieving defensive SuperStar Mario Williams has shut it down for the remainder of the year. And for the past two months, save a victory over the Titans, Matt Schaub has conducted post-game interviews with eyes as red and teary as my wife after a back-to-back viewing of Steel Magnolias and Beaches.

The league's best wide receiver Andre Johnson continues to toil in his team's regular season mediocrity, revealing to the NFL's top rusher Arian Foster an unpleasant glimpse into his future of stats, awards, recognition, and respect... but seasons that end in week #17, nonetheless.

So, what do we do now?

Is it a matter of a missing piece on defense that was all that held up this team from finally achieving post-season participation? Is it a matter of a GM that can adequately find that piece? Is it an issue of coaching, and all that goes with it: effective preparation, motivation, and leadership?

Probably all of the above.

Bob McNair can decide right here, right now, whether he wants to join the ranks of this city's other professional sports teams that disappoint their fans, but alleviate the pain of failure with books that show a profit. The problem is, Drayton McLane's baseball team that went to the World Series just 5 years ago is now suffering a fate that is the worst of all: people aren't the least bit interested in them.

And I haven't even mentioned Leslie Alexander's ball-dribblers. They have become such a disgrace that they are irrelevant by Thanksgiving. And although they won back-to-back World Championships, that was when today's newly licensed drivers were born! When's the last time you heard someone complain about them? They don't. People instead discuss the great play of other teams and their players.

That's the problem. For a few years fans vent with frustration and anger about their team not performing. Then, they just stop caring. That results in less revenue and the diminished ability to run the team profitably. The Houston Texans have with great pride announced at each and every game how once again they have a capacity crowd. But that won't continue. Not if ownership continues to demonstrate the same apathy regarding not winning that will soon be met with a reciprocal sentiment by the fans illustrating their disapproval with a profitable but losing organization.

Bob McNair does not have as much time as he thinks...He better act now!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Remember The Titans

The Houston Texans are going to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend to try to stave off what would be their first losing season since 2006. It is no small task, as they are going up against veteran quarterback Kerry Collins who is more than capable of carving up a Texans secondary well-chronicled as the league's worst against the pass.

The last time the Texans went up against the Titans they were facing Florida Atlantic rookie quarterback Rusty Smith, resulting in a 20 - 0 home victory. Kerry Collins, however, has a history of beating Houston with his arm. The Texans coming away with a win seems as unlikely as a "hug-it-out" embrace between Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson when they line up across from each other for the first time since the fight that got them both ejected from the game on November 28th at Reliant Stadium.

At 5 - 8 and with three games remaining, the Texans must prevail in Tennessee, follow that up with a victory in the snow in Denver, and produce a "this is our house" statement-win in front of their fans with what will be their final game of the season on January 2nd to achieve what would be their third .500 record in the last four years.

With seven losses in their last eight games, the Texans may want to revisit exactly how they pulled off their only win in the last two months. I would advise they start by remembering the Titans.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Texans Stub Toe on MNF, Stumble Onto Great Opportunity!

Who among us is not familiar with the concept that success in life comes more easily and quickly with a healthy dose of perspective. But, to paraphrase David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap, sometimes you can have "too much %*#@%#% perspective".

Perhaps what is more important is the right perspective. I think the Houston Texans and their fans have been looking at their role in the NFL the wrong way. Yes, they have capable athletes. But they've proven over and over again that they are not a well-coached, strategically competent or prepared organization.

In the last two weeks my private conversations with Dan Fouts of CBS and with Jon Gruden, Mike Tirico, and Ron Jaworski of ESPN's Monday Night Football included a discussion that the Texans find more ways to lose games than the Washington Generals. And then, it hit me! It was probably just like the "Eureka Moment" of The Monkees' lead guitarist Michael Nesmith's mother Bette when she happened upon Liquid Paper in 1951; and 3M scientist Spencer Silver when he unwittingly developed the technology for Post-It Notes in 1970. The Houston Texans have stumbled upon what can be their greatest role in the history of the NFL.

They can be the 2nd Bye-Week Opponent, if you will, in what would be an owners-favored extension of the campaign to 18 regular season games! Think about it. They already have the clownish all-red uniforms. They just need to stock up on plenty of confetti as I am sure the other 31 teams in the NFL will insist they bring it for the ol' bucket of water gag.

They will have to do two games in one day, but they can just make the second contest the Sunday Night Flex-Game for good, wholesome family entertainment.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Here's the Story...

The Houston Texans could not have suffered worse misfortune this season if they had drafted and started Robbie Rist and also charged him with double-duty as Head Chef and Traveling Secretary.

Rist played the bumbling, stumbling, blonde bowl-cut bad luck cousin Oliver who visited the Brady Bunch, and he would have nothing on whoever or whatever is responsible for the mishaps bestowed upon the Texans this year. They fumble away opportunities for late-game heroics and instead wind up on the wrong end of a Hail Mary in Jacksonville; In the New Meadowlands versus the Jets they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing a length-of-the-field game-winning touchdown drive in the waning seconds after with First and Goal they ended up settling for what would turn out to be only a temporary "go-ahead" field goal just moments earlier.

I’m not even mentioning the beat-downs they took at home at the hands of the Cowboys, Giants, and Chargers…or their lackluster play on the road in Indy or Philly. Because even with those losses, the Texans could still be sitting alone atop the AFC-South with a record of 7 – 5 ahead of what would be the tied-for-second Colts and Jaguars at 6 – 6. No, I speak only of the insufferable and inexplicable bad luck they and their fans have been forced to endure.

With next week's hosting of Monday Night Football against Ray Lewis and league bully Baltimore Ravens, there’s no time to waste when it comes to exorcising from the organization its unbelievably bad luck. The Texans need someone who is good at handling this kind of, well, "junk”. And from what I’ve heard lately, if it’s “junk” you want handled, call in the TSA security experts from Bush Intercontinental and Hobby Airport to sweep the facility of what’s currently ailing the home team.

It must be some sort of bad luck hex, or maybe even an evil object. You know, like the ancient Tiki Idol discovered on the beach by Greg Brady while on vacation in Hawaii.

I’ll bet you Alice could find it!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Houston Texans Steered to Defeat by Philadelphia Eagles

Against all odds and sensibilities, the Houston Texans were somehow once again in a position to claim a stake in both a game and a season by winning on the road in Philadelphia against the Eagles and NFL MVP contender Michael Vick.

But Houston was challenged by its offense's slow start, a costly turnover, and missed opportunities in the first half. Contributing no help to the Texans cause was a defense initially succumbing to an immediately productive Philadelphia Eagles offense that kept the ball 19:18 of the first two quarters.

Vick deftly led his team with a surgical precision comprised of a balanced attack that incorporated his arm, his feet, and his complement of weapons that made up the rest of Philadelphia's offensive arsenal yielding two length-of-the-field touchdown drives on their first two possessions.

When the Texans finally responded and were driving at the end of the first half trailing 17 - 10, Matt Schaub threw a "Man, I'd like to have that one back!" interception to Eagles defensive lineman Trevor Laws. Houston was fortunate that ultimately a dropped touchdown pass by Brent Celek on the ensuing possession meant Philly had to settle for a field goal and a 20 - 10 halftime lead.

Houston opened up the second half with consecutive possessions resulting in touchdowns by Arian Foster as their fourteen unanswered points gave them their first lead of the night at 24 - 20. Those two drives sandwiched a Vick interception, but Glover Quin's fourth pick in five days would only momentarily stall the Eagles, as only they would score the game's remaining points with two more touchdown drives.

Despite the Texans defense desperately trying to hold the Eagles to a field goal to keep it a one possession game late in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia's final touchdown scoring drive included a converted 3rd and 19 pass to a determined "stretch for the stick" Celek after Houston safety Bernard Pollard's near-interception at the goal line the previous play.

The Houston Texans fall to the Philadelphia Eagles 34 - 24, dropping to 5 - 7 on the season.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Texans Playoffs Scenario Requires High Nielson Ratings

The Houston Texans can not only still make the playoffs, they can also still win the AFC-South. But it's going to take something Houston has never accomplished before: A six-game winning streak commenced with last weekend's win over Tennessee. I know what you are thinking: "Surely you CAN'T be serious!"

All it will take is a tough win on the road in Philadelphia for the Houston Texans to have a .500 record of 6 - 6 in the wake of the Eagles falling during what would be a two-game skid to 7 - 5 from their .700 winning percentage of just one week ago. Then, just follow that up with a Monday Night Football victory at Reliant Stadium against a brutal Baltimore Ravens team that is currently 5 - 1 on the road this season.

Next, pick up in week 15 at Tennessee with a continuation of the beatdown the Texans put on the Titans in week 12, demolish in the snowfall the trainwreck that is the Broncos, then finalize the best season in franchise history with revenge for the "Ah Hail, Mary!" in Jacksonville by winning against the Jaguars at Reliant in week 17.

That's all it takes. The Jaguars and Colts, each projected to finish at 9-7, will be left out in the cold due to the AFC WildCard berths being awarded to the Ravens and either Jets or Patriots (depending on which of those two teams wraps up the AFC-East.)

To Recap: just go into the den of a beast of a team against likely NFL MVP Michael Vick and win in Philly tomorrow night, and then pull off another tough challenge by defeating the Ravens on football's brightest stage at home with your city behind you the following week. All that would remain would be the Winter Wonderland Waltz of dishing out "just desserts" to division rivals and a defeat to the weakened organization that is the Denver Broncos. That's all it takes for the Houston Texans to pull off the best in franchise history trifecta of achieving a record of 10 - 6, going to the playoffs, and wearing the crown as AFC-South Champions.

I AM serious, and don't call me Shirley!