January 1, 2007
Faith in the System
by Keith Weiland
Gary Kubiak, vindicated?
Skewered for passing Reggie Bush in his first draft, then ridiculed for it again when Domanick Davis limped to the injured reserve, Kubiak and the ground game philosophy he brought with him to Houston were severely doubted through the first three months of his first season as a head coach.
Then came a December to remember. Kubiak’s system, specifically the fabled Bronco running game, had not only been wildly successful over the past decade in Denver, it was all the more legendary because of the apparent interchangeability of the no-name backs who executed it.
No Davis and no Bush meant more no-names for Kubiak. No problem, right?
Actually, there were big problems. The ineffectiveness of the rushing offense through much of the first three months of the season made it quite obvious that a new running back, one preferably taken high in the draft, is exactly what Kubiak needed to fix the ground game. So much for “the system”.
A funny thing happened on the way to the 2007 draft though. After cycling through a rookie, Wali Lundy, and a botched trade acquisition, Samkon Gado, Kubiak returned to a former Bronco.
Ron Dayne followed up a productive collegiate career by becoming a busted draft pick through much of his seven-year pro career. When Kubiak asked Dayne to carry the load against the Raiders a month ago, little was expected beyond the ordinary.
What followed since has been extraordinary. This afterthought of a running back ripped off a four-game streak in which he carried 89 times for 429 yards (a 4.8-yard average) and five touchdown runs.
Is it possible, that after seven years of mediocrity since hoisting the Heisman, Dayne is finally becoming the type of back the Giants once thought he might be when they drafted him eleventh overall? Look, after witnessing Britney’s unimpressive vag-flash, complete with a c-section scar no less, I understand anything is possible, but let’s give Kubiak and his system a little credit (and Britney some panties while we’re at it). Dayne isn’t exactly Earl Campbell, okay?
And consider this: when Dayne couldn’t play in the season finale against the Browns, Kubiak turned to his unheralded and undrafted practice squad phenom, Chris Taylor. Most had never really seen him before his first carry last week and rare was the Texans fan that ever watched him in college. But there he was on Sunday against the Browns, plugged into “the system”, rushing 20 times for 99 yards and a nifty score.
Taylor-Dayne may sound like the least imposing running back combo ever — yeah, why can’t the Colts work out a Celine-Dion backfield? Or maybe even a Lance-Bass in Tennessee for crying out loud? -– but it is sure seemed like music to Kubiak’s ears all December long.
Combine the five-game December stats for Taylor and Dayne, and the duo ran for 552 yards and six touchdowns. The pair helped the Texans to a 3-2 won-loss record for the month (which, sadly worth noting, included an overtime loss), this for a team that only once has ever had a winning record over a longer stretch of time. Extrapolate the Taylor-Dayne production across a full 16-game season, and the Texans would have had 1,766 yards and 19 touchdowns. Consider then that all of this ground game came from an offense where no defense had been at all afraid of the team’s passing attack, often keeping eight men or more near the line of scrimmage.
Maybe one stellar December from Taylor-Dayne won’t keep Kubiak from ignoring the draft’s top prospects at the position over the next four months, but then again maybe it will allow him to comfortably address other need areas on his team. At the very least, Taylor-Dayne is reason enough to once again believe in the system, even if the no-names running it sound like an ’80s pop singer.
Keith Weiland believes Love Will Lead You Back, but only after love averages almost five yards per carry. Taylor Dayne Home