October 24, 2003
Give Me a D…
by Ric Sweeney
The Texans lost a game Sunday that, frankly, they had no business losing. And really — how many times in their brief history have we been able to say that? As far as I’m concerned, that alone made Houston’s 19-14, last minute loss to the Jets tolerable. Well, that and the fact I was heavily medicated.
Also helping to ease the pain was the emergence of rookie running back Domanick Davis, who may very well be the every down back the Texans’ offense has, like Leonard Nimoy, been in search of. And if Davis is indeed the real deal — wow.
That would mean over the course of just two drafts, GM Charley Casserly has assembled the makings of a potentially dangerous offensive club. Davis along with David Carr, Andre Johnson, Jabar Gaffney and Chester Pitts represent an exciting core group that could one day lead this franchise to the postseason. There are GMs who would need a decade to assemble that kind of talent (two if they work for the Bengals) and Casserly’s done it in a mere two years. Two. More impressive, only Pitts was a product of Houston’s expansion compensation. Casserly didn’t need the extra picks the NFL afforded the Texans to assemble this group of weapons.
Against the Jets on Sunday, Davis, a fourth round pick last April, totaled 199 yards, including 129 on the ground. And while those numbers certainly jump off the page, grab you by the lapels and fondle you up and down, it was how he acquired those yards that was the really impressive feat of the day. Davis broke tackles, repeatedly; he beat defenders to the corner with quickness and a burst of speed; he moved piles, made guys miss, kept his legs churning and refused to go down. By day’s end, he had every Madden 2004 gamer upping his attributes and rearranging their Texan depth charts… not that I’d know… I don’t play video games…
(Random aside: While it has absolutely no bearing — not an ounce — on what the former LSU Tiger does from here on out, it is interesting to note that Casserly has a history of finding productive former SEC running backs named Davis in the draft’s fourth round. He nabbed Auburn’s Stephen in 1996 with the 103rd overall pick. Domanick was the 101st player selected. Eerie, I know. Now back to our regularly schedule article…)
Now the Texans must find out if Davis is the real deal. And that might be difficult, because their next six games are against average to awful run defenses, with New England being the lone exception. Still, teams now know they have to prepare for Davis — they get to closely study film on him, break down his tendencies, attack his weaknesses — so we should get some idea what this kid is all about. And if he proves to be a durable, reliable and, of course, consistently productive back that moves chains and makes Dom Capers’ pants happy, perfect, because adding a back like that to this team makes the Texans’ offense ready for prime time. Which means, it’s time to turn our attention to the defense.
And boy, does it need attention.
So much so, it has to make you wonder why Casserly didn’t anticipate the offense being this potentially good this fast. Further, why he didn’t recognize that last year’s defensive performance was really smoke and mirrors and needed immediate help. (And, I know it’s not an exact science, but he did put the roster together.) In hindsight, signing Roosevelt Colvin, or Shawn Barber, or Montae Reagor, or Cory Hall, or Dre Bly, or anyone not named Charlie Clemons, would have been a wise move. I’m not complaining, per se, and I’ve never advocated signing players for the sake of signing players, but this is a team that could be ready to compete, offensively, a lot sooner than later and won’t it suck if we have to waste Carr and company’s prime years finding defensive counterparts?
Antwaan Peek aside (who looks raw, but promising), the team needs an immediate infusion of not just depth, not just talent, but athleticism on the defensive side of the ball. Which puts Casserly back on the spot and brings to mind the words and wisdom of the great Eastern philosopher, Short Round, who once said, “No time for love, Dr. Jones.”
The team has no pass rush, none. Perhaps getting Gary Walker and Seth Payne healthy would help, but then again, I don’t recall it being very special last year when they were healthy, and frankly, do either figure to be key contributors a year or two down the road? Look, if a hospice patient like Vinny Testaverde can stand around all day and have, most heinous of all, time to freaking scramble for positive yardage, your pass rush isn’t just anemic, it’s downright embarrassing. I’m not trying to be Mr. Doom and Gloom here, that’s just the way it is, OK? Next thing you know, the Golden Girls are gonna be breaking into our secondary and you don’t want to see single coverage on Bea Arthur, brutha! (Mainly because she’d likely juke Matt Stevens out of his shoes and leave him grasping for air. Matt Stevens, by the way, was one of our main offseason “additions” to the defense. Chew on that for a second…)
Of course, making a commitment to build a unit is one thing. Finding the right pieces, and then convincing those piece to sign with you is another. Fortunately, if what he’s done with the offense is any indication, we’re Allstate with Charley Casserly – in good hands.
Burning Question of the Week: Anyone still wishing we had drafted Joey Harrington? (And you know who you are, you Mel Kiper teabagging frauds!) He’s not yet the Ryan Leaf footnote to David Carr, but man, oh, man, how right was Casserly on this one? Harrington looks lost and confused, scared for his life — I’m guessing Roy’s world made more sense 3 seconds after that tiger bit into his neck than Harrington’s does right now.
But the guy can play a mean version of “Bad, Bad, LeRoy Brown” on the piano!
Somewhere, Marty Morningweig is laughing his ass off.
Ric Sweeney not only upped Domanick Davis’ attributes in Madden, he also picked him up in one of his fantasy football leagues, proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that he’s the biggest nerd of all-time.