August 21, 2005
Same Old Same Old?
by Bob Hulsey
Yes, we’re 1-1 for the pre-season and it’s only the pre-season, but I see a Texan team that seems to have made little progress in the two areas they must improve upon to reach the next level in the National Football League. They still don’t block well and they still can’t pressure the quarterback.
The offensive line is far and away the worst unit on the field. When you can’t even blow the lightweight Denver Broncos off the ball in four tries, something is wrong. They couldn’t blow the Raiders off the ball except when Oakland went to their second-string. I’m up for cutting every lineman on the team whose surname begins with "W" and starting over. Oakland’s defense last season was as bad as Houston’s and yet David Carr still had to run for his life out there in order to have time to throw. No wonder Dom Capers is exposing him to just one drive a game before calling it a night. At every snap, the OL reacts like Iraqi insurgents just set off a roadside bomb near the football. They turn Houston’s red zone offense into a red light offense.
Even the Texans defense who CAN’T LAY A FINGER ON AN IMMOBILE STUMP LIKE KERRY COLLINS abuses these guys in practice. Our OL should get thank you cards from Honolulu from a lot of opposing defenders this winter.
Maybe they are just used to the anemic pass rush of our defense and are shocked when a real NFL pass rush shows up on the field. The Houston one can’t find a quarterback if he was lit on fire. I’m ignoring the sacks at garbage time from Charlie Anderson and Frank Chamberlin. They were beating guys who will be appearing in United Way commercials this year – as charity employees. When the starters are on the field, the team makes an average offense look like world-beaters. The Raiders’ first team went through Houston’s defense like Warren Sapp and Ted Washington go through a buffet.
I couldn’t get over television analyst Spencer Tillman lampooning Sapp’s weight. ("When he gets on a scale, it reads ‘To Be Continued’.") That’s while Sapp is standing next to Washington who makes Warren look like a time-share condo in contrast to Big Ted’s office building.
But I digress.
I know the Texans are experimenting with combinations of players and making sure everyone gets a chance to play. I know they aren’t showing their whole playbook yet (or that’s what they’ll tell you. If Houston’s play-calling were any more vanilla, it would be sponsored by Blue Bell). The only creativity comes after the quarterbacks have had their 1-1/8 seconds of pocket protection before ad-libbing the rest of the play. I hear Chris Palmer will finish installing the playbook around the same time road crews are finished with I-45.
Just maybe the coaching staff and the front office should take a look around the stands of last night’s game. Sure, the Raider fans dress up like a Halloween Party on meth but a lot of Texan fans dressed up as empty seats last night. Probably many of them were in the stalls hurling after the Texans’ first-half performance and decided it was better to go home and watch the Milwaukee Brewers on the tube. A ticket to Reliant Stadium is no longer such a hot item in town. The honeymoon is ending, fellas.
The Texans I’ve watched the past two weeks look more like 6-10, not 10-6. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Most of Charley Casserly’s draft choices stood out Saturday night. Travis Johnson blended in well on the defensive line (like the others, he was hardly noticed). C.C. Brown started at strong safety and held his own. Jerome Mathis basically gave Houston three points on speed alone when he blew past Fabian Washington and forced a pass interference call. His hands needs some work though. Vernand Morency proves he is quick as a waterbug and tough too. But he’s got to stop with the J.J. Moses routine whenever a tackler gets near him and, like J.J., Vernand lacks the fifth gear to take it to the house.
For the second week in a row, Dave Ragone showed he’s the king of garbage time. That’s what all that experience in Europe has done for him. He’s good at that level. Hopefully, he’s moved up another half-round in trade value. I hope he gets to start elsewhere and become a star just so I can take credit when he is in commercials pitching Rogaine. "I’m Dave Ragone for Rogaine." I haven’t been so thrilled with a prospective advertising idea since I teamed up pitcher Mike Krukow with General Mills cereal ("I’m Krukow for Cocoa Puffs").
But I digress again.
If there is a silver lining to Capers and his Texans, they seem to pick out my favorite villains to beat. My least favorite teams are the Raiders, Cowboys and Steelers (in that order) and the Texans are 3-0 when it counts against them and 5-1 if you include exhibitions. That should be good news for this week when they vie again for the Governor’s Cup. Maybe by that time they’ll come up with a little chocolate in their game plan and epoxy the offensive lineman together so perhaps they can give Carr a chance to throw.
Bob Hulsey bought up several Glenn and Sharper jersies at Academy the other day. He’s not sure why they had them priced so low.
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