Silver and Black Leave Blue

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August 21, 2005
Silver and Black Leave Blue

by Charles Spooner

An ominous black cloud was hanging over Reliant
Stadium early Saturday evening. The forecast was for
a Texan thumping by the likes of Lamont Jordan, Robert
Gallery, and the villain with an angelic name, Doug
Gabriel. But Kris Brown and Vernand Morency provided
some sunny second half play as the Texans rained on the Raiders Parade, 19-17.

One could almost hear John Facenda’s voice in the background, as Oakland bullied their way 72 yards on their opening drive. Raider RB Lamont Jordan ran left, right, and over the Texans defense for 47 yards. Doug Gabriel, starting in place of injured WR Jerry Porter, completed the thuggery by yanking an end zone pass out of the clutches of Texan CB Demarcus Faggins for the games first score.

The Texan offense responded with a textbook drive, 2005 style. Emphasizing Texans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer’s new short passing attack, David Carr lead a 15 play, 76 yard drive. WR Reggie Swinton got his first start and first touchdown reception as a Texan to culminate the drive.

The Raiders struck back quickly, with QB Kerry Collins finding Gabriel wide open on the left sideline for a 70 yard touchdown strike. Faggins was once again the victim, with rookie strong safety C.C. Brown arriving late to provide help.

The keys to the Texan offense were handed over to backup QB Tony Banks as the Texan Triplets (Carr-Davis-Johnson) sat out the rest of the way. Tony and the other second teamers looked as if they were still driving with their learner’s permit, accounting for only 9 yards of net offense the rest of the half. Squandered was a 57 yard punt return by Swinton that had set the offense up on the Oakland 32 yard line.

The preseason contest could have gotten out of hand had Kerry Collins not remembered that he was still Kerry Collins. After beginning the game 9-9 for 132 yards, Kerry picked up two delay of game penalties and hurled a goal line interception to Texan free safety Marcus Coleman. Collins’ pass had been intended for offseason acquisition Randy Moss, who was conspicuous in his lack of presence.

Only a dreadful exhibition of clock management by the Texans allowed the Raiders to score again in the first half. After Coleman’s pick with 0:57 left on the clock, the offense picked up a holding penalty, an incompletion, and two Tony Hollings runs that went nowhere. Oakland rookie free agent Chris Carr returned the ensuing punt 31 yards to setup Janikowski’s only field goal of the game.

After a third quarter endzone interception by super-sub safety Jason Simmons, the Texans brought in rookie RB Vernand Morency to energize the offense. And that he did, picking up 56 yards rushing in a drive capped off by a field goal by backup kicker Chris Snyder.

Kris Brown field goals of 20 and 53 yards were followed by misses by the ex-Florida State Seminole Sebastian Janikowski (wide right, of course). With 3:50 left on the game clock, Morency went back to work. Five consecutive carries (including a key fourth down conversion) moved the Texans to midfield. All-NFLE QB Dave Ragone found Sloan Thomas on the right side for 22 yards to put the Texans in Oakland territory with 1:09 remaining. The Texans ran the clock down to 13 seconds (why?), leaving Brown with a 46 yard attempt. Brown snuck the kick just inside the right goal post, and Raider Nation left Reliant Stadium unhappy once more.

Camp breaks Monday August 22, and the team begins normal game week preparation. Next Saturday, the Texans continue their in-state rivalry with the boys in little d. Texans starters historically play into the third quarter in the third preseason game. Interesting side bet with friends: TV cuts to Cowboy cheerleaders vs. Bill Parcell’s man boobs. Early line is man boobs (-7). What Went Right?

Starting Offense The triplets did their thing. Carr got outside the pocket and put pressure on the defense. Domanick Davis slipped, slid, and sliced his way through the defensive line. Andre Johnson caused match up problems all over the field. But it was the fact that the offense got guys like Bradford, Swinton, & the speedy rookie Jerome Mathis involved that made the opening drive a thing of beauty.

Reserve Linebackers At the opening of camp, there was apprehension by fans and pundits regarding the Texans’ depth (or lack thereof) at linebacker. But the inspired play of Charlie Anderson and Shantee Orr has eased those concerns. Now former Titan Frank Chamberlin is emerging as a player the Texans could count on, picking up 6 tackles and a sack in two quarters of play. All told, reserve linebackers accounted for all three Texan sacks and helped keep the Raiders off the scoreboard in the second half.

Kicking Game Four-for-four tells the story, as Kris Brown and Chris Snyder bailed out the Texans’ second and third unit offense with 12 key points. Is this the year Brown represents the Texans in Honolulu? He’s never looked better. In contrast, Raider resident lounge lizard and place kicker Sebastian Janikowski looks like he could use a couple more weeks of training camp.

What Went Wrong?

Run Defense After stuffing the finesse rushing attack of the Denver Broncos last week, the Texans defensive front should have been emboldened. Getting squashed by Oakland’s power blocking offensive line, led by ’04 first rounder Robert Gallery, should bring the guys back to reality. Will the real Texans defensive front please stand up? The Buffalo Bills, with bruising back Willis McGahee, are drooling.

Third Down Defense Wasn’t the offseason additions of Morlon Greenwood, Phillip Buchanon, and Travis Johnson supposed to improve a third down defense that ranked 29th in the NFL? Watching the lack of pressure and soft coverage that led to a 67% conversion rate in the first half was very reminiscent of last season. At least Capers knows that a four man rush and soft zone coverage still isn’t the answer.

Clock Management Poor clock management at the end of the first half led directly to a Raider field goal. Poor clock management at the end of the second half could have cost the Texans the game. With 57 seconds left in the first half, no reasonable fan would expect the offense to mount a drive. The QB kneels would have had the score 14-7 at the half. And a fourth quarter drive that burns 3:42 off the clock and leaves your kicker with a tough 46 yard try is not a great drive. 8 runs out of 9 plays when you’re down? Mix in a pass, guys.

Key Play Of The Game

Down 14-7 with the Raiders driving, the Texans defense needed to make a play. With 1:06 left in the 2nd Quarter, the Raiders had 2nd and 7 from the Texan 17. The relatively quiet Randy Moss was lined up across Dunta Robinson in the left slot. Moss beat Robinson to the inside with a simple move and Collins shoved a pass towards the open receiver as the pocket began to collapse. What neither Collins or Moss knew was that Robinson had inside help in the form of Marcus Coleman. Stepping in from of Moss, Coleman collected the interception and kept the Texans within striking distance.

Preseason Week 2 Recap WR Reggie Swinton is head over heels after catching a TD pass. Final Score Houston Texans 19 Oakland Raiders 17 Lookin’ Good

Reggie Swinton Looks to be an upgrade over the former fan favorite J.J. Moses. Swinton finds the holes and hits them hard during returns. And he can help out in the passing game, too.

Oh, my eyes!

Demarcus Faggins
Petey will have Doug Gabriel nightmares for a while. Just keep saying, “It’s only preseason”.

2005 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.13 Denver 14-20 08.20 Oakland 19-17 08.26 at Dallas 9-21 09.01 at Tampa Bay 14-38 Regular Season 09.11 at Buffalo 7-22 09.18 Pittsburgh 7-27 09.25 Bye   10.02 at Cincinnati 10-16 10.09 Tennessee 20-34 10.16 at Seattle 10-42 10.23 Indianapolis 20-38 10.30 Cleveland 19-16 11.06 at Jacksonville 14-21 11.13 at Indianapolis 17-31 11.20 Kansas City 17-45 11.27 St. Louis 27-33 12.04 at Baltimore 15-16 12.11 at Tennessee 10-13 12.18 Arizona 30-19 12.24 Jacksonville 20-38 01.01 at San Francisco 17-20   Overall Record 2-14