It's the weekend but that does not mean you still cannot make your knowledge grow, right? Hmmm...you look skeptical. What if I told you that this football lesson plan comes from a woman who knows more about football than you? Better, huh. I thought so.
What follows is a Q&A dialogue with Texans fan and writer Steph Stradley about anything from who you might not know on the Texans that should scare you to why the average Texans players still suffers from high car insurance premiums (they're young).
I'm guessing you're like me, and don't know jack about the Texans, because they've basically been a NFL afterthought (which is funny, cause we root for the Bengals). So educate yourself.
(also, you can read my Q&A on her blog too)
Who are you and where do you write?
My name is Stephanie Stradley, and I'm a lawyer who writes a Texans-only blog for the Houston Chronicle and writes about a variety of subjects for AOL Sports' FanHouse. I'm a volunteer moderator at a number of Texans message boards--both the official MB and the fan-run TexansTalk.com. After being a three time finalist, in 2006, I was voted Ultimate Texan Fan and the team sent me to the Super Bowl in Miami. Much fun ensued.
The Texans are allegedly quite talented, can you confirm or deny this?
The Texans have the youngest team in the NFL, with zero offensive or defensive starters over the age of 30. This means that they play a feast or famine sort of football. The Texans were number three in total offensive yards last year using the old Bronco's playbook basically, and it spreads the ball around to a variety of targets. Number 2 WR Kevin Walter quietly had 60 receptions, 899 receiving yards and 8 TDs to add to WR Andre Johnson’s (115 rec, 1575 yds), RB Steve Slaton’s (1282 rushing yds, 377 rec yds) and TE Owen Daniel’s (70 rec, 862 yds). The number 3, 4 and 5 receivers can also be threats.
On defense, they have some individually talented, young players but are still learning to play together as a unit. They have a new defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and secondary coach this year. They rely on rookies for key positions. They can look really dominant at times and really awful. The same defense that allowed 21 points in the first quarter against the Cardinals, allowed 0 points and forced 5 punts the second half.
Has the start to this season been more promising or disappointing?
Disappointing because the schedule only gets harder. Yeah, it is a bad sign when your starting quarterback hurts his ankle running out of bounds during the preseason. Matt Schaub started the year not looking right, and as of week 6, the Texans are now featuring two new players at guard. The Texans typically have started slowly and finished strong, and I think that is pretty standard of young teams who are trying to figure out new systems, and just the NFL in general. The fanbase is running out of patience of December games only being played for pride.
The Texans this season have been the opposite of the Bengals--though they took a close game on the road away from the Titans, they couldn't close out heartbreakingly close games against the Jags and Cardinals. Given how the breaks go, this team could be 4-1 or 1-4. They have been making tons of mistakes, and just throwing away scoring opportunities and allowing stupid easy scores.
How much does it suck playing in a division where the other team are almost always tough? Do you agree Peyton Manning's
head looks like a fetus?
To be the best, I guess you have to beat the best. This year, the Texans could actually do something in the AFC South if they could get their act together. As for Manning's head, I haven't thought of it that way, but yeah, he has a pretty fetal-looking head. I have a theory that Manning has a pact with the devil that allows him to amass huge yards in blowout wins without worrying about getting hurt or actually putting their crap backup on the field. I take pride that this post is a first page google hit if you type "Peyton Manning evil" "Peyton Manning El Diablo" among other devil terms. (editor's note: the original deal with the Devil clearly belongs to Kurt Warner, in Peyton's case it is probably more likely he has some embarrassing drunk photos of the devil he's using as leverage)
Do you hate your owner like Bengals fans do?
Nope. Texans owner Bob McNair is a very personable, decent, nice guy. He's responsible for getting football back in Houston despite long odds and the NFL wanting LA to get its act together, so most people are pretty appreciative of him. His reputation as an owner is to provide his football people with enough resources to do their jobs and basically stay out of their way. There's questions whether he's done a good job of getting the right football people around him, but as an ownership model, he's what you want your owner to be: an open check book, leaving football decisions to football people..
And he is not personally embarrassing like old Oilers owner Bud Adams was - you know - cheap, flipping people off, wearing crazy clothes, looking like he has a dead possum stapled to his head. Houstonians know the horror of rooting for a team where you dislike and are embarrassed by the owner.
McNair is very fan-oriented. He may not be able to buy the team wins, but he is very focused towards making the game day experience for fans the best he can. Unlike Oiler days where it wasn't allowed (Editor's Note: Wait?! Tailgating. Wasn't. Allowed. WTF?), Texan fans are encouraged tailgate before games, and we have among the best tailgating in the league. I've personally known of experiences where Texan fans have emailed the team about problems they have had, and the Texans have very much tried to fix those issues.
What has prevented the Texans from being successful since they joined the NFL?
A dissertation could be written on this subject. Here's the not quite as long version. The NFL owners were angry about the near instant success that the Panthers and Jaguars had when entering the league. At that time, teams hadn't figured out how to keep their best players under the new salary cap structure and these new teams with money were able to cherry pick some good experienced players. That combined with the generous expansion draft terms made them very competitive right away. After that experience, the league gave the Texans very poor expansion terms--the Texans basically were forced to take other teams overpriced cast-offs in the expansion draft.
This combined with some very poor decisions by Charley Casserly and the coaching staff didn't give the Texans much chance to succeed. Casserly threw away draft picks, didn't know how to draft well for the 3-4, and the coaching staff didn't work very well together. Not a great idea to draft a first pick quarterback to play with a cobbled together offensive line and work with baby receivers with no established running game. By the 2-14 2005 season, the Texans pretty much had to do a do over.
Do you blame your running back for not being able to score at the goal line or something else?
Typically, the Alex Gibbs zone blocking system that uses smaller offensive linemen doesn't perform as well at the goal line. This is made worse with injuries to both guard positions, and the center missing a good portion of the offseason with an ankle injury. In addition, though Chris Brown is a larger sized back, he's never been a great goal line back. The Texans wanted to upgrade their complementary back position this offseason, but it didn't work out between the draft and free agency. Doh.
Is Matt Schaub the real deal?
Hard to say. Schaub is third in the league currently with total yards, with a great TD to INT ratio this season, despite having no reliable running game in support. He's had buzzard's luck with injuries after taking $90,000 worth of fined hits over the last two years and he started this season with a sprained ankle that happened from no contact. He can move the sticks but sometimes his red zone decision making leaves a lot to be desired. This is a big season for him because the Texans will need to make decisions relating to his contract at the end of the season.
Was Mario Williams over Reggie Bush the craziest but ultimately best draft call you can think of?
It was weird enough that it got me blogging because there was so much stupid stuff being said that I couldn't stand it any more. In this part of the world with the number of Longhorn grads, lots of fans wanted the Texans to take Vince Young. Reggie versus Young was the big debate until the mention of Williams made people go WTF.
However, that pick made so much sense for so many reasons. The reason why the Texans collapsed in 2005 was because their defense was so bad. That defense had CB Dunta Robinson and Mr. Nobody. Given that the Texans ran a Bronco-style system, a number of people believed that you don't take a dance in the backfield, thin-legged running back with the number 1 pick. That and dominant defensive ends are much more difficult to find than a running back that can put up numbers. A lot of people got that call wrong in 2006, but I made those arguments then, and they ended up making a lot of sense.
What players should that Bengals don't know should make us nervous?
WR/returner Jacoby Jones makes everyone nervous. He is one of the fastest and fittest guys on the Texans, and is a threat to return a punt for a TD anytime he touches the ball. He's also a threat to muff the punt too so he makes Texan fans nervous as well.
What has to happen for the Texans to beat the Bengals?
The way that they've been beating teams over the last two years is ball control, field position and trying to score over 30 points. The Texans defense has been so inconsistent and poor that the offense has to just be a point machine. If their offense has struggles, which is easy to do on the road, it makes it much more difficult for them to win. I'm not sure this defense can win games for them.
The defense in spurts has looked better than previous versions. The best way for them to win is to keep the game close until the offense can just unleash some explosive plays. The Texans have won and lost games in weird ways, so who knows what has to happen for victory. Four good quarters of football would be nice.
What else should we know or do you want to say that I haven't asked?
Nothing really. Pretty comprehensive. If anybody else has any other questions, feel free to visit my blog and ask them. Have a lovely day.
(Editor's Note: Thanks Texans Chick! Now, I hope you lose.)