January 4, 2006
How Now Brown Cow?
by Ric Sweeney
If the Texans are serious about righting their ship, and by all indications they are, why did the man most responsible for their tumble into Reggie Bush miss the swing of Bob McNair’s axe this week? And no, I don’t mean general manager Charley Casserly, though his performance certainly earned an outright dismissal and now the mere thought of him being anywhere near the team’s draft room in April turns my stomach upside down. But this isn’t about Casserly; it’s about kicker Kris Brown. If I owned the team, Brown would have been among the casualties Monday.
Not that Brown is solely responsible for what happened this year. Far from it. He didn’t throw a single interception, miss a tackle, drop a pass or trade five draft picks for Jason Babin and Phillip Buchanon. But what Brown did do is miss two crucial field goals down the stretch that would have tied and/or won games, and we’re talking about two makeable field goals, by the way, both from 31 yards out. Good for us; Brown’s misses ultimately helped the franchise secure the much-needed Bush, but in the big picture scheme of things, cutting Brown would have sent a definitive message to the players, the league and anyone who dared mention “tank” down the stretch as the Texans lost games they really had no business losing: We’re not happy about what happened in 2005 and we are going to start holding people accountable for it… except, of course, the general manager, who, by the way, extended Brown’s deal last May after the kicker finished the worst year of his career, but I’m digressing.
Let there be no doubt – others should follow Brown out the door; he alone should not go Lee Majors on everybody and play the fall guy. But the two egregious misses against the Titans (which would have tied the game with no time remaining) and 49ers (which would have won the game with six minutes remaining) topped off a terrible year for the former Cornhusker. He missed eight field goals this season, five of which were inside 40 yards and of those five, four were in the fourth quarter. Brown’s overall 76.5% success rate this year ranked 14th in the AFC. It seems an appropriate time to remind you that there are 16 teams in the AFC. Granted, his percentage this year represented a marked improvement over hi’s 2004 rate of 70.8%, but it was still well below league average (81.1%). In fact, in his four years as a Texan, Brown has only hit on 75% of his kicks. As a point of comparison, disposed Cowboy kicker Billy Cundiff, who coach Bill Parcells has cut 91 times over the past two years, has hit on 73.2% of his kicks over the same four-year period.
But it was Brown’s struggles this year inside 40 yards that should have sealed his fate. While he was hitting on only 70.5% of his 17 kicks between 30 and 39 yards, the rest of the AFC was hitting on 89%. Brown missed five kicks from that distance; the entire rest of his counterparts in the conference missed only a combined 15. For his effortsthis year, Brown should have been released Monday, along with Capers, Casserly, and some half dozen other players.
As they move forward, it’s important that the Texans introduce accountability into the fabric of their franchise because this year, the team had none. Casserly blamed Capers; Capers blamed Casserly; Carr blamed the offensive line, his receivers, the peanut vendor; others blamed him for his incompetence and immaturity. Meanwhile, McNair sat back and allowed the ugly charade to play out for 17 excruciating weeks. And no one, until Monday, paid the price for this train wreck of a season, save for Chris Palmer, who should have been fired 1.6 seconds after the loss to Cleveland to close out 2004. Players who were obviously not putting up any effort skated by; players expected to help lead the team hid from the responsibility; players who were guilty of repeat infractions on the field that screamed for some kind of punishment received none.
The Texans have a lot of work ahead of them. They have to hire a competent, offensive-minded head coach (not to belabor the Casserly point, but I think it should be noted that his last two hires were Dom Capers and Norv Turner… again, why is he still collecting a paycheck?), collect their parting gift for this dismal season (Reggie Bush) and then spend every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening thereafter praying to Willis McGahee’s ACL that Bush doesn’t blow his knee out between now and September, and last, but by no means least, eradicate the losers from their roster that helped steer this year’s team into the abyss. And Brown would have been the ideal place to start.
Maybe Brown eventually will be let go, but Monday would have been the time to do it. Instead, as they’ve done since their inception, the Texans passively sat on their hands and did nothing. That doesn’t bode well for the future of this franchise, but hey – at least we’ll have Charley Casserly leading us…
Ric Sweeney just stuck a pen laced with AIDS into his right eye. Happy New Year, everyone!
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