November 11, 2007
Bye and Bye
by Bob Hulsey
As many of you recall, I don’t like "bye weeks". I don’t think they are fairly distributed. As a fantasy owner (which I am not), they disrupt your roster flexibility for over half the season. As a fan, there’s that lost-child-in-the-mall feeling on the bye Sunday of not knowing what to do with oneself or which direction to go since there’s no game to watch.
Nonetheless, if a bye week must come, the later in the season it comes, the better for the team. Evidence is provided by the Houston Texans who surely need the week off right now to regroup and heal.
Hopefully, when the Texans next see action, Matt Schaub will be back at quarterback with a fully functioning cranium, pain-free hips and joints and Andre Johnson will be back in uniform to catch his passes, Ahman Green will be close to full health and Jacoby Jones will have reclaimed his mojo. If the offensive line can use the Oakland win to regain some confidence and cohesion, the offense can return to what Gary Kubiak envisioned back at the start of the season. Lord knows we Texans fans have missed that offense like the quick fling with the hot date we can’t get out of our heads but can’t manage to hook up with for a second rendezvous. We got to enjoy her for about 100 minutes before A.J. went down and it hasn’t been the same since. It’s as if that chance encounter with David Carr in Week Two turned our chariot back into a pumpkin. For the second half, let’s get our Cinderella on again.
Heck, we can even add a new dimension to the attack if Echimandu turns out to be no ordinary Joe. He’d be a welcome change-of-pace to the Ron Dayne Show.
The defense can make strides too although overcoming the loss of Dunta Robinson will be difficult. In Oakland, I saw hustle and fire from the defense 20 times greater than what I saw in San Diego the week prior. I know the Chargers are a better offense than the Raiders but they aren’t that much better. The difference in the two performances was that the defense showed heart and explosiveness they haven’t always displayed.
The young tandem of Williams and Okoye should continue to improve and they will need to because the injury-riddled secondary is going to be a concern the rest of the way. Fred Bennett has been a pleasant surprise but he is as capable of making the big gaffe as he is the big hit, much the way Petey Faggins was up until this year when he traded in his "38" uniform for one that says "Flag me now." I sure hope Bennett was learning the cornerback position from Dunta, not Demarcus.
As always, DeMeco Ryans anchors the middle and we saw Danny Clark get psyched up to play his ex-teammates. Last year, the Texans defense gelled in the second half and was the key to some December wins. There’s no reason to think that this can’t happen again. Without the shutdown corner available, it won’t be easy but I haven’t given up yet. This is a more talented group than the one that stepped up last year.
Sitting at 4-5, the Texans can either slink back to expansionhood and start planning on another top ten draft pick or they can reach for the opportunity before them and finish 4-3 or better after the bye.
Every opponent on the rest of the schedule now appears to be on an upswing except Denver. Yet, of those, the Saints and Buccaneers appear beatable and we defeated three of the other four just last year. If the Texans play with abandon and stay healthy, the first .500 season in franchise history is still attainable.
There is also time for the franchise to grab the attention of the local fan base and win some of them back. The Astros appear to be muddled and are unlikely to find their way out of the abyss for a couple of years. The Rockets are starting well but you can almost set your watch by the next time McGrady throws out his back or Yao breaks one of his sizeable bones. Once that happens, the team will return to their role as first-round exit fodder – too good for the lottery and too weak to beat anyone in a seven-game series. The Dynamo have been impressive but my attitude about them is the same as I felt during the Comets’ championship run. Yawn.
What troubles me most about the Texans is that they are boring. The team name – boring. The choice of colors – boring. The play-calling – boring. The inability to make stops on third downs – boring. The post-game interviews – boring. The only time the Texans aren’t boring is when the emotion turns to disgust, such as during their first-half performances against Tennessee and San Diego.
Boring is okay if boring comes with winning. But boring while losing is like being the geek who can’t get a date because he hasn’t lifted his head up from his monitor long enough to discover girls. Your punishment for being boring, dear Houston, was being the only town in America not watching the Colts and Patriots last Sunday.
It doesn’t have to stay that way. Maybe the bye week will give the Texans enough health and creativity to be a playah again. Remember how it felt those first two weeks of the season? We actually had enough cred to be mentioned on ESPN in a positive way! Yeah, it’s not too late to be that again. The Texans just have to heal up, show up, man up, wise up and keep the energy going for two more months.
Bob Hulsey is filing for free agency at season’s end so he is now padding his stats with worthless columns.
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