2002 Record: (0-0) 9.08.02 | 7pm
September 5, 2002
An Era Begins
by Jimmy Mohr
It has been ten long years since the hated Dallas Cowboys made the trip down I-45 to take on an NFL team from Houston. Since that game, the NFL landscape in Houston has changed dramatically. The Oilers have made way for the Texans, and what better way to kick off their first season than with a win over the Cowboys.
The Cowboy’s are a team coming off three consecutive losing seasons; however Coach/Owner/GM Jerry Jones has high expectations for 2002 The pressure is on Dave Campo and his staff to appease their boss as well as the moronic fans in Big D. Jerry and the citizens of Dallas expect nothing less than a playoff berth from primarily the same team that went 5-11 last year.
The Cowboys defense improved from a bottom five ranking in 2000 to a top five in 2001. For 2002, the ‘Boys have added DT La’Roi Glover and LB Kevin Hardy in hopes of further improving their defense. Their signings indicate Jerry Jones’ attempt at duplicating the World Champion Ravens of 2000. The Cowboys are no Ravens. They are weak at the cornerback position as a result of the failure of Bryant Westbrook. His poor play has forced the Cowboys to rely on two rookies to contribute, Pete Hunter and Derek Ross.
On the other side of the ball, the offense is in the hands of newly hired offensive coordinator Bruce Coslett. He has installed his own version of the West Coast offense, hopefully the same one he used in Cincinnati. It relies heavily on a power running game meaning Emmit Smith and Troy Hambrick should get plenty of touches. Quincy Carter is staring in his rear view mirror at Chad Hutchinson. Now in his second season, the pressure is on Carter to win games.
The Texans enter the regular season after a tumultuous preseason. Injuries have stricken key players expected to contribute, particularly on the offensive line. The offense sputtered as a result of these injuries and also due to a lack of experience. In fact, the Texans will start five rookies on offense Sunday: QB David Carr, WR Jabar Gaffney, FB Jarrod Baxter, G Fred Weary and T Chester Pitts. Factoring everything going against the Texans (expansion, injuries and inexperience, to name a few), there is a ton of pressure on the Cowboys to win this game. If the Cowboys lose, their season is over and Dallas fans will throw in the towel and start counting down the days until the Lakers’ season starts.
When the Texans have the ball…
David Carr will have his work cut out for him on Sunday. The Cowboys defense is salivating at the chance to throw everything they can at him. The Cowboys will mix their coverages in an attempt to confuse him, and expect them to blitz early and often. With an offensive line missing starters Tony Boselli and Ryan Young, the Texans will have to rely on rookies Chester Pitts and Fred Weary to fill the void. The running game will have to succeed to take the pressure off Carr. His knee is already banged up after the Buccaneers made mince meat out of him. If Carr is forced to drop back and throw all day, Tony Banks had better be ready to play.
When the Cowboys have the ball…
The Cowboys’ offense is successful only when Emmit Smith is productive. Quincy Carter is incapable of carrying the offense with his arm; his strengths are speed and mobility. The Texans need to stack the line and force Carter to beat them in the air. Emmit is not the back he once was, he is now average to slightly above average at best. He was dropped behind the line more times last year than any other in his career. He also becomes frustrated easily; if the Texans stop him early, watch for him to pout on the sideline.
Smith 1. Stop Emmitt
If the Texans can shut down the Cowboys’ ground attack, their chances of winning greatly improve. With the loss of Raghib Ismail, and with Reggie Swinton out, the Cowboys will have to rely on a young group of receivers. Ken Yon Rambo and Antonio Bryant will have to deal with the veteran DB’s of the Texans.
2. Keep Carr out of trouble
Last week, David Carr was running for his life. Injuries aside, the Texans must find a way to protect their rookie QB. If the running game falters, screens and short timing routes may be the only way to keep Carr on the field.
3. Win the field position battle
Neither of these offenses is expected to light up the scoreboard. This game will come down to who wins the special teams battle. The Texans need KR/PR Jermaine Lewis to step up big. One or two long returns could turn out to be the difference.
Brown Kris Brown v. Billy Cundiff
This game will probably come down to field goals. Kris Brown is trying to recover from a dismal season with the Steelers last year; look for him to atone for his lack of production. Cundiff is, well, who is this guy anyway? Two weeks ago, he missed from 23 yards as time expired against Carolina and still won the kicking job. What a country! Please let the game come down to this guy having to make one from anywhere.
Dom Capers v. Dave Campo
These two defensive minded coaches go head to head with drastically different agendas. Dom Capers would be pleased to come away with a solid effort, win or lose. Dave Campo needs to win to save his ass. A loss to the Texans will most certainly lead to a losing season for the fourth consecutive year. Let alone losing to an expansion team from Houston. Jerry will make Campo walk back to Dallas if they lose.
Texans v. emotion
The crowd is going to be loud and raucous and the adrenaline will be flowing probably like it’s never been before, so the last thing the Texans want to do is expend all that emotion and come up empty. They need to jump on the Cowboys early and knock the life out of them; give Reliant a reason to stay loud and raucous and for the adrenaline to keep pumping.
HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: Emmitt won’t break Payton’s record in Houston, but if the Texans can’t stop the run, he may come close. Expect some tricks from both teams and some blitzes Capers has kept under wraps so far. Cowboys 24, Texans 13
Dave: Their defense has enough to bail out their fraud QB. Cowboys 19, Texans 10
Jimmy: There is no way in hell I could ever pick the Cowboys to win. Texans 13, Cowboys 10
Keith: Yep, for Dallas, it’s Hard Knocks, baby. Texans 17, Cowboys 16
Ric: Reality check — the preseason wasn’t that meaningless. Cowboys 21, Texans 9
Warren: History shows that a franchise-opening win is too much to expect. Cowboys 17, Texans 13
2002 Regular Season Records Bob 0-0; Dave 0-0; Jimmy 0-0; Keith 0-0;
Ric 0-0; Warren 0-0
TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 70 37 441 1/3 TEAM 153 80 825 2/7 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 50 182 3.6 1 TEAM 142 388 2.7 2 REC NO YDS AVG TD Gideon 6 123 20.5 1 TEAM 80 825 10.3 2 COWBOYS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT Carter 60 38 383 1/0 TEAM 111 70 587 2/2 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Hambrick 28 93 3.3 1 TEAM 119 466 3.9 3 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bryant 16 162 10.1 0 TEAM 70 587 8.4 2 PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review