October 4, 2005
by Ric Sweeney
The time is upon us. It won’t be easy; it won’t be a popular choice. Actually, it might be a really popular choice. Regardless, the Texans, busy rearranging deck chairs on their Titanic of a season, have one last move that they must absolutely make as soon as possible.
It’s time to bench David Carr.
Not to punish the young fireballer for what’s gone down thus far, but because we have to know. We have to know just who, exactly, is responsible for the NFL’s most anemic offense. Right now, no one seems to have a clue. Talk to 12 different people and they’ll give you 12 different answers. The offensive line is porous; the playcalling is too predictable; the routes are too long; the routes are too short; the receivers too incompetent. And yes, more than a few think David Carr is simply no good. Chris Palmer obviously had no answers. He’s now unemployed. Charley Casserly has been quoted as having no idea, and isn’t that refreshing? Dom Capers continues to scribble notes during games and as much as we’d love to believe he’s writing down acute observations and groundbreaking solutions, my suspicion is that he’s either updating his résumé or doing mathematical equations to try and figure out the significance of Hurley’s lottery numbers on Lost.
So drastic times call for drastic measures, and the only way we’ll know for sure is to put Carr on the bench and let someone else take the snaps. If Tony Banks or Dave Ragone can find extra seconds to look downfield; if they can involve Andre Johnson more frequently; if they can stand strong in the face of an onslaught and put the football in the end zone, then we’ll know. We’ll know that the Texans’ first-ever pick is a bust. Burying our collective head in the sand and pretending everything’s OK is a recipe for disaster.
Sitting 0-3, this is already a lost season for the Texans. Unless they go on an Astro-like finishing kick (and they’re not going to), they’ll be hard-pressed to continue their trend of incremental improvement in the win column for the first time in their young lives. In fact, at this point, it’s likely they’ll regress back into the draft’s top 5. So if winning and improving are all out the window for 2005, then this has to be the year we finally draw a declarative conclusion about David Carr – is he or is he not this franchise’s quarterback of the future?
Even if the Texans finish 0-16, this year can still be considered a successful campaign if the jury can render a verdict on Carr. Going into this critical offseason without an answer will put a dark, foreboding cloud over every move the Texans make. First and foremost, Carr is due an option bonus of $8 million. If Carr’s helmet next season still has the sleek, multi-colored bull logo on it, he’ll be costing the Texans an astounding $7.25 million. If you’re wondering what’s the quickest route to salary cap hell, it’s paying a guy you think might, maybe, possibly be pretty good if only $7.25 million. You can’t afford to do it. It’ll set the franchise back years.
Something else the Texans can’t afford to do is pass on someone who might actually be the guy they thought Carr was going to be, and yes, I’m thinking about Matt Leinart. The smooth-as-glass USC QB is on a crash course with, among other accolades, the top pick of the 2006 draft (not to mention shattering whatever record might currently exist for most women landed in a 4-year college career), and if we know for certain what we do or do not have with Carr, we can make a much more educated, much more proactive decision on Leinart when the Texans are on the clock next April. Because sadly, at their current pace, the Texans will be in a season-long dogfight for the top pick in next year’s draft and none of us want to spend the next 6-7 years watching Carr scramble to the sideline, take sacks, and yell in disgust at his linemen while Leinart steps in for Brett Favre and rechristens Green Bay Titletown all over again.
And what’s really scary is that the Texans have always been slow to react. They didn’t have a name for nearly a year. They held on too long with Tony Boseli. They fired Chris Palmer eight months too late… But deciding once and for all what they have in David Carr cannot linger. He needs to smell pine for 3-to-4 weeks. (It’ll preserve his health anyway.) Then, and only then will the Texans be able to take the next logical step in undoing this mess they’ve created.
And for the record, I’m pulling for Carr. I really am; I hope he is the guy. I hope the cancer is in the line, the playcalling or somewhere else.
The Texans have failed to do much to distinguish themselves in their first four years; it is a team with no identity, no character. As such, I have remained a distant fan. I watch every game, but with little investment in the outcome. I don’t live and die with every play; my Sundays certainly don’t fall into a pit when they lose. I’m longing for this team to do something, anything, to make me care. Instead, they’ve stacked their front office and roster with the boringest, most non-descript individuals in all of football.
Through it all, Carr’s been about the only guy I’ve really cared a flip about – he’s the one galvanizing presence on the field. You either want him to fail or you want him to succeed. There seems to be little middle ground. Personally, I want him to succeed. I want to see him right this ship, turn things around, be everything I convinced myself he could be back in the fall of 2001. Watching him undo four years of mismanagement, stick it to all his detractors and prove he was worth the fuss would engage me.
Sitting through another four years trying to figure out which way is up will not.
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