November 15, 2004
From Contenders to Pretenders
by Keith Weiland
It’s a new word I learned after these past two losses to the Broncos and Colts, meaning fear of horses. Considering how the Texans have played against these last two teams must make them feel like a bunch of oats and carrots in a feedbag.
Let’s see… two weeks ago the Texans were 4-3 coming off an emotional win over the Jaguars. The notion of “playoffs” seemed feasible then. Today, one mention of the “P” word, and I’ll begin to sound a lot like Jim Mora in postgame interview.
So, I thought I’d offer my free counseling services to the team and its fans through the magic of this internet column. Whenever I get down, I listen to some tunes, and I know just the collection for what ails the Texans and their fans: The selected hits of The Pretenders.
Lemme just put this lame CD on shuffle so the healing can begin…
Track One: Back on the Chain Gang
“What hijacked my world that night
To a place in the past…”
Dude, where’s my expansion team? I think we’ve found it in a 2002 time warp.
Wait, maybe not. Even the expansion Texans never had back-to-back losses as bad as the ones in Denver and Indianapolis.
Maybe the closest the Texans ever came was actually last season when they put up consecutive stinkers on the road in Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. That team at least had an excuse though, unlike this year’s edition. David Carr was out of action at the time, and rookie Dave Ragone was taking more snaps than he should have been. Domanick Davis was injured and missing then, too.
Track Two: Don’t Get Me Wrong
“Don’t get me wrong
If I come and go like fashion
I might be great tomorrow
But hopeless yesterday.”
Hopeless doesn’t begin to describe Sunday’s loss or the loss the week before to the Broncos. The 80-27 raping the Texans have taken over the last two games is the worst in team history. Caligula could not have devised more brutally explicit scenes than the ones on display in those two.
Track Three: I’ll Stand By You
“So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside…
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you.”
To think that the Texans would have gone 0-2 on this road trip would have been a rational postulation. The Broncos and Colts are both playoff-quality teams, and playing on the road is never an easy adventure in the NFL.
But, yikes. Sonny Corleone has taken better road trips than the whacking the Texans have taken the past two weeks.
The true test now will be how the team responds in preparing for their next home game against the Packers. When the Hulk gets mad, he turns green. When Dom Capers gets mad, he turns the page on his little notebook and scribbles. At what point does he realize that the way his team lost these past two games begin to reflect on him and his staff?
Track Four: Brass in Pocket
“Gonna use my arms
Gonna use my legs…
Gonna use my, my, my imagination”
To get back on track, the Texans are going to need to use some imagination in all phases of the game.
The offensive line, now nine games into the regular season, is still ineffective in creating cutback lanes as a part of the zone blocking scheme they implemented this year. To make matters worse, Davis seems more reluctant than ever to make the cutback moves he did so well last season.
On defense, the secondary should consider abandoning the zone altogether. If the front seven is unable to create any pressure, which is usually the case, an opposing quarterback will eat up even a good zone coverage the way Star Jones eats up at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Track Five: Message of Love
“Now look at the people
In the streets, in the bars
We’re all of us in the gutter
But some of us are looking at the stars.”
Chrissie Hynde was obviously singing about Texans fans shortly after the Colts jumped to a 35-0 lead two minutes into the third quarter. Those of us in the gutter looking at the stars were the ones who had seriously thought that the Texans were a playoff team in just their third year of play.
While at 4-5, with the next two games at home, the Texans are certainly not out of contention, but there are still plenty of holes for this team to fill in the offseason and too many holes to compensate for as a playoff team this year.
But there has been enough progress towards being a .500 team this season that can keep everyone looking up when times get at bad as these. Of course, a little help from The Pretenders every now and then doesn’t hurt, either.
Keith Weiland is “special, so special.”
Chrissie Hynde Home