Hope Springs Eternal Again

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April 18, 2007
Hope Springs Eternal Again

by Keith Weiland

I had learned to dread the spring.

April is a wonderful time of year for allergy shots and the IRS, or as they are known collectively, the pricks. It has also, historically, not been a great time of year for the Texans as well.

I’m unlearning the dread now. This spring has been different. I don’t mean to brag, but I saw this coming a couple months ago. Like the infamous groundhog, I poked my head out of my NFL hoodie in February and bumped fists with my shadow.

Six more months until football season, I thought. Six more months until the Texans can begin building upon an end to last season that saw them win three of their last five games, including one over the eventual Super Bowl champs. Six more months until the Texans finally post their first-ever non-losing season.

That’s right, I’m driving this bandwagon, and I’m not driving angry anymore.

Those old Texans had a plan, but it was flawed. Worse, it was flawed and expensive. It showed every year. Our new Texans also have their own plan, but this one might actually work. Less than one year in, and the results are showing already.

Yes, this season already feels different to me, so hop on board. While Al Gore might point to global warming for my climate change, I think I might just be warming to the new approach the team took in its offseason task list.

A big part of my spring fever belongs to Matt Schaub. There was not a better option available to the Texans this offseason at quarterback, not in free agency, not in the draft, and certainly not already on the roster. Sure, he didn’t come cheap – a pair of second rounders is serious trade consideration – but is there another position worth more than his?

I understand your skepticism though. Given that Schaub was a backup and hardly noticed in Atlanta by most Texans fans, the sentiment is recognizable. And just what have the Texans done thus far to earn our blind faith anyway? Very, very little.

Though there was this: The Texans refused to overlook perhaps one of their biggest blunders ever (and as we know all too well there have been many, many blunders). The team chose to say goodbye to Carr just one year into his highly publicized three-year extension. The owner himself admitted the mistake while Carr was still on the roster. Proclaiming it throughout Texan-land, the emperor was finally exposed as stark nekkid, his NFL manhood flapping in the breeze.

I’m guessing it was as refreshing for him as it was for the rest us, and I do mean that figuratively.

The Schaub trade accentuated the sort of change that’s been underway around Reliant Park for about a year now. In case you haven’t noticed, Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith aren’t messing around. Dead weight becomes dead money quickly these days. An overhaul is what this franchise needed after its first four years, and an overhaul is exactly what we are witnessing, one transaction at a time.

Less than a month before the trade, the Texans were wonderfully under the radar when it came to big money signings. They had a budget and stuck to it. There weren’t any oh-my-god-how much? moments in this offseason’s headlines.

The guys Kubiak and Smith signed were all vets, many of them now on the downsides of their careers. Still, they’re improvements. The Ahman Green of 2003 might be a fading memory, but even the 2007 version is an upgrade over the ragtag group the Texans featured last year.

So outside of Schaub maybe no one signed will be around Reliant Park two years from now, but taken as a whole, those moves position the Texans nicely for the draft later this month. While there are several needs to address on both sides of the ball, there are no glaring holes to fill. Take the top player on the board guilt-free and enjoy the ride.

Enjoying the draft… now there’s something that’s not been an easy thing to do around here since right about… EVER. But after the success of guys like DeMeco Ryans and Owen Daniels a year ago, even the draft is fun again.

So jump on board now before this thing really gets rolling. My shadow’s already called shotgun, but there’s still plenty of room on the bandwagon. Won’t you join us?

Keith Weiland thinks that so long as Mario Williams isn’t driving the bandwagon over 130 miles per hour, we’ll all be a lot safer this season.

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