Here We Go Again

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September 9, 2003
Here We Go Again

by Bob Hulsey

"I think if the Texans can contain the run, it looks like it should be a low-scoring game where placekicking and turnovers will be the difference. That makes it just about even. I’m not saying Houston will win but if the Dolphins don’t take them seriously, Houston can win. That holds for New Orleans as well. One upset or the other isn’t out of the question." – Bob Hulsey, Post Patterns 08.13.03, responding to some Dolphin fan smack.

This is a habit I could find addictive. This business of winning one’s season opener against teams we were told we’d have no business lining up against. Until the Houston Texans become expected to win, it’s a nice way to kick off the NFL season.

Hey, Miami – see ya after practice.

What’s truly amazing about the 21-20 Houston victory at Pro Player Stadium is how the Texans played so unlike they did during the preseason. What looked awful for August (pass protection, running game, run defense, pass rush), all of the sudden improved by quantum leaps Sunday. David Carr had time to throw for 266 yards. Not only was he not sacked, he really wasn’t even pressured much. The line also opened holes for over 100 yards on the ground. As Brent Jones exclaimed during CBS’ telecast "You Texans fans aren’t used to seeing this".

We also aren’t used to seeing Marcus Coleman behaving like Aaron Glenn but there he was in the fourth quarter making two critical picks, capping a day where he also forced a fumble and caught a pass. By game’s end, even CBS’ "Goose" Johnson knew who he was.

Dolphin star and former Heisman-winning Longhorn Ricky Williams was limited to 69 yards on the ground and lost a fumble. He did score on a swing pass in the flat but we’ll ignore that for the moment. Bum Phillips had a knack for shutting down 100-yard rushers with his 3-4 defense in the 1970s. The additional speed and fluidness of a fourth linebacker, as opposed to a fourth down lineman, made it tougher for runners to escape the point of attack. It didn’t look like the Texans, minus All-Pro Gary Walker, were going to be up for the challenge but they came out of it with just enough backbone to win.

Nothing short of going to the Super Bowl is going to outshine shocking the Cowboys, 19-10, on national television in the franchise’s first regular season game. There’s no point discussing it. Beating the Steelers with an invisible offense was miraculous and satisfying but certainly flukish. Beating the Dolphins on Sunday in all the areas they were allegedly solid (in Miami, in September, stopping their running game, holding out their pass rush, beating their secondary) speaks volumes for a team with just 17 games under their belts.

Not that there aren’t areas for improvement. Finding a free safety who can tackle might have spared the Texans 13 points. Watching our kick returner go forward instead of sideways or backwards would be an exciting prospect. Limiting the false starts and holding calls would help too. And, fercryinoutloud Chester, keep your helmet on at all times. You’re not being paid for your looks!

But before we go ga-ga over this year’s Texans like a wardrobe man at a Britney Spears concert, let’s remember this franchise has yet to string together two good games, much less two wins. Every victory last year was punctuated by a virtual thud back to reality the following week. In the NFL, you are only as good as your last performance and the Saints are already feeling the sting of a season-opening loss to the Seahawks. Before we agree Houston is stepping up in the pro football world, we’ll need to see this type of effort more than once a month.

The Texans won their opener last year – then went 3-12. After their lackluster August, I was beginning to believe the folks who said the team would not win more than three or four this year. Despite Capers’ track record at head coaching in a new franchise’s second season, expecting anything more than six victories in 2003 is just giddiness. There are as few cupcakes in Houston’s schedule this year as there were compassionate guards in Udai Hussein’s prisons. It’s gonna be a tough season and we can’t expect the Texans to stay as injury-free as last year (offensive line notwithstanding). There is still a depth problem with very few ways to fix a flat tire or a bad wheel once this Carr gets on the NFL’s autobahn.

But, for one week at least, Texan fans can again say that their guys are leading the division and have bragging rights against a very proud and storied franchise who’s fans are hanging their heads in shame this week – stunned and confused like Nick Nolte at a sobriety checkpoint. It’s really a joy to visit fan boards and read the out-of-town press every time Capers’ gang pulls the upset on some unsuspecting has-been dynasty.

Yeah, I could get used to this.

Bob Hulsey also remembers he predicted a 37-11 Dolphins bloodbath last week. It was all part of the sandbagging act. You didn’t want him to spoil it for Fins fans, did ya? Kris Brown Home

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