October 30, 2007
Sackless Texans Quickly Sinking
by Bob Hulsey
Watching Sunday’s debacle in San Diego, you’d have thought it was the Texans who had spent all week fretting that their homes were going up in flames. They let a Charger team who had every reason to lack focus dominate them from start to finish.
The Texans were so embarassingly bad that they couldn’t even fall on a bad snap without falling all over themselves. As CBS’ Greg Gumbel pointed out during the telecast, everyone expected the Chargers to win but the Texans were making it look "too easy". Just for future reference, Richard Smith, that big blue thing wearing "85" on his chest that was standing all alone deep beyond the secondary, you just might want to have somebody cover him next time. If you get a next time.
This was the sort of game which should cause heads to roll. For the first time since he was hired, I honestly feel Gary Kubiak needs to have a major shake up and, if not, Kubiak himself should go. For the second week in a row, the Texans were blown out so quickly that fans could leave at halftime secure in knowing who won the game.
What bothers me also is the lack of fire I see from this team. When Drayton Florence cheap-shotted Matt Schaub in the second quarter, knocking the starting quarterback out of the game, there was nobody on the Texans who chose to do anything about it.
I remember in the old days when a defender did that to a team’s quarterback, the offensive linemen responded as if somebody had just punched their wives. Even a few years ago, Kyle Turley of the Saints took umbrage at a Jets defender who tried to bend Aaron Brooks in a direction men shouldn’t be bent unless seeing a chiropractor. Turley ripped off the defender’s helmet, seemingly unconcerned whether the head was still in it or not, swung it around like a towel and then flung it into the seats. Yes, Turley was kicked out of the game and the league sent him to anger management but I guarantee you there were at least 31 quarterbacks around the league that stood and applauded. Brooks knew somebody had his back.
A 15-yard penalty is not enough for what Florence did. A greeting card from the Commissioner’s office complete with an envelope to mail back the fine payment is not enough either.
The Texans needed to send a personal message: "Mess with our meal ticket and we’ll mess with yours." I’m talking about retaliation; an eye for an eye. Hit Philip Rivers late. The more blatant, the better. Do it until the point has been made. Were I the head coach, I’d not only offer to pay the fine, I’d tell the press afterwards "Hell yes, I ordered that." They were already behind at the time, 28-3. It’s not like the Texans were going to cost themselves a shot at winning by gooning it up a little.
Of course, the only way the Texans were going to get to Rivers would be after the whistle since they have no skill at hitting quarterbacks before the whistle. Despite spending more than the gross national product of some third world countries on the defensive line, the Texans still have nobody with more than four sacks on the half-finished year.
I’m not normally a man who advocates violence but there comes a time you have to take a stand, not go back to the huddle and ready for the next play. When you get punched in the mouth, you need to hit back and you need to be able to accept the consequences of hitting back. In short, man up.
The Texans have prided themselves on getting good people who are more likely to meet a policeman at a charity event than at closing time at the stripper bar. There’s something to be said for not getting Pac Man Jones or half the Cincinnati Bengals.
But the Texans lack any badasses with a mean streak willing to mix it up when the opponent plays outside the rules. "Nice guys finish last," once said a famous baseball manager. It’s even more true in pro football and truer still in the AFC South. We need a couple of enforcers who won’t let teams beat up our best players without paying a price for it.
A season that started 2-0 and filled with promise has collapsed into a 1-5 quagmire since then, the lone victory being a last-second home triumph over the still-winless Dolphins. If this season were a war, the Democrats would already be demanding surrender.
Don’t blame injuries either. All teams get them. We had no way of knowing whether Schaub could take a full year of pounding but the Texans should have known coming in that Ahman Green wasn’t going to last the season. We need better depth at almost every position.
Which brings me to the one bright spot in Sunday’s disaster. Adimchinobe Echemandu from Lagos, Nigeria, via Berkeley, California, had 12 touches for 73 yards in his first game off the Texans practice squad. The former 2004 draft choice of the Browns, who has also been with the Vikings and Raiders, looked like the sort of quick slashing runner that zone-blocking offenses covet.
It’s too early to tell if Echemandu can become a feature back but it was good to see anyone from Houston’s backfield appear to be moving through the line with a sense of urgency. At least we saw one guy out there playing like his job depended on it. Bouncing from training camp to training camp will do that. May Echemandu be the most successful Nigerian in Houston since Hakeem the Dream.
The next two weeks for the Texans will be at Oakland and at the whirlpool. The Raiders may not have any better talent than the Texans do but there’s no questioning they punish people every week. Kubiak needs a few guys like that before his team turns into chumps the rest of the league dismisses as nancy boys.
Bob Hulsey questions if the Austin market will pass up the Texans game on Sunday to show the Colts-Patriots showdown. For that matter, he wonders if the Houston market wishes they could too.
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