For Auld Lang Syne

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January 1, 2004
For Auld Lang Syne

by Bob Hulsey

Now that the Christmas presents have been opened and the New Year has begun, it’s time to look back on the first two years and decide what went right and what went wrong for the Texans. The first year was a trial by fire – something more to be endured than celebrated. With a second year under our belts, it’s easier to see clearly in the rear-view mirror:

Best Expansion Draft Pick
ILB Jamie Sharper. Some of the others played well too, but none of them came close to putting in two full seasons other than Marcus Coleman. Sharper brings an intensity and strength to the linebacking corps. Hasn’t cost as much money as some of the others either.

Worst Expansion Draft Pick
OT Tony Boselli. It’s tempting to take one last shot at Jermaine Lewis, but Boselli cost us a bunch of money and never even made it on to the field. It was a gamble to take his contract and, in hindsight, it was a bad move but he did come as a package with DLs Gary Walker and Seth Payne, so it may have been something the Texans knew about earlier than they let on. If Lourdes ever gets an expansion team, I’d take Boselli again.

Best Major Free Agent Signing
C Steve McKinney. But it isn’t like he’s had a lot of competition here. Corey Bradford, Zach Weigert, Kailee Wong, Stacey Mack. Kris Brown. Charlie Clemons. Tony Banks. All of them are good but not great. You can see how the line suffers when McKinney’s not in there so that gets him the nod.

Worst Major Free Agent Signing
OLB Keith Mitchell. No disaster here but the guy came in with much greater expectations than when he left town, beaten out of a job by Jeff Posey. Even with a hometown discount, he was no bargain.

Best Street Free Agent Signing
P Chad Stanley. All he does is make solid punts. I can’t remember a shank all season. He’s also good for an occasional trick play.

Best Waiver Pickup
FS Marlon McCree. He solidified a position of obvious weakness to the point where it is no longer the first place opponents try to exploit. His 95-yard interception return against Tennessee was something I could never picture seeing from Matt Stevens. Not sure if he’s a long-term solution but he’s at least a good stopgap. FB Moran Norris also deserves a mention here. Jarrod Baxter may not get his job back the way Norris has performed as lead blocker and occasional receiver this year.

Best Draft Pick
RB Domanick Davis. This one’s rather easy. Without him, we’d still be looking for a running game. As a fourth-rounder, this guy has been a steal. Chester Pitts is a distant second. David Carr and Andre Johnson? You knew those guys would be good.

Worst Draft Pick
DT Charles Hill. He’s the only first day selection to be cut already by the franchise. That says a lot when the franchise is just in its second year. Not sure what GM Charley Casserly expected to get from him but, whatever it was, it never showed up in Houston.

Best Trade
KR Charlie Rogers for ILB Jay Foreman. Foreman has been a steady, if unspectacular, tackling machine over two seasons. He’s rather weak at the point of attack but the stat sheet doesn’t lie. He winds up around the ballcarrier. Rogers, meanwhile, has knocked around Buffalo and Miami with little to show for it. It’s tempting to choose the QB Danny Wuerfel for DE Jerry DeLoach deal, just for the fact that we got a serviceable lineman in return for a guy only Steve Spurrier could want.

Worst Trade
There really hasn’t been one but the trade up for Oakland’s second-rounder which was then used to pick RB Tony Hollings in the supplemental draft could become one should Hollings not pan out and we think of what we could have had with the 34th overall selection of the 2004 draft. In fairness, nobody knew back in July that Raider Nation would follow up their Super Bowl year with Raider Abomination.

Best Game
(2002) Houston 19, Dallas 10. There’s no feeling like the first time and what a time it was rubbing it in Jerry Jones’ plastic puss on national television right out of the gate. There won’t be a more enjoyable game in Texans history until we win a Super Bowl or at least beat Tennessee in a playoff game.

Worst Game
(2003) New Orleans 31, Houston 10. Yes, there have been games where we played worse but this one left two bad memories I haven’t forgotten. First, Seth Payne tears an ACL and our defense never truly recovers. Secondly, David Carr was a physically beaten man by the end of the game – worse than he looked at any time in 2002. His offensive line looked like they hadn’t learned anything from the year before.

Best Play
(2003) Houston 24, Jacksonville 20. David Carr wins on a last-second leap over the goal line. Dom Capers would have been roasted on an open spit for weeks if Carr hadn’t held the ball across the plane. Hollywood would be hard-pressed to write a more thrilling finish.

Worst Play
(2003) Tennessee 27, Houston 24. On fourth down, Drew Bennett gets behind a slipping Marcus Coleman and rips the lungs out of 70,000 screaming fans with a touchdown catch in the final minute.

Best Hit
(2003) Denver 20, Houston 12. Eric Brown lays out ex-teammate Chris Cole with a hit so vicious that John Madden would have needed five onomatopoeias just to describe it. Even Brown was staggered for awhile. Cole, miraculously, holds onto the pass. And this was in the first pre-season game!

Worst Hit
(2003) Houston 12, Buffalo 10. Jeff Posey lays out ex-teammate David Carr with a wicked shot that resulted in a Buffalo safety. Carr’s injured throwing shoulder was a constant concern during the last two months of the season.

Best Gadget Play
(2002) Houston 21, Jacksonville 19. Kris Brown’s game-winning field goal is set up by a cross-field lateral by Jabar Gaffney to Aaron Glenn on a punt return. With Erik Flowers as lead blocker, Glenn dashes into field goal range.

Worst Gadget Play
(2003) Houston 24, Jacksonville 20. Stacey Mack’s halfback pass to a double-teamed Andre Johnson is picked off by the Jaguars, spoiling a drive that would have made Carr’s last-second heroics unnecessary.

Best Touchdown Celebration
The dog pile after Carr’s touchdown beat Jacksonville followed by a belated but enthusiastic leap into the crowd.

Worst Touchdown Celebration
Carr and McKinney doing a very lame "who’s got the cell phone" act after scoring against Tennessee. When the joke bombs and then the league fines your ass, you know it’s better to leave comedy to the professionals.

Best Uniforms
Battle Red jerseys. Most of the alternate jerseys you’ve seen just look hokey. These babies need to come out more often – particularly since we are 1-0 while dressed in them.

Worst Uniforms
The Texans Cheerleaders as Christmas Presents for the Colts game. Those giant bows were covering up the umm, uhh, err…gifts.

Bob Hulsey swears he’s not stealing material from Dennis Miller just for referencing Lourdes and onomatopoeias in a pro football column.

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