Apocalypse Now?

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May 1, 2006
Apocalypse Now?

by Ric Sweeney

Do you remember that scene in Apocalypse Now when the Air Calvary helicopter is descending upon an unsuspecting Vietnamese village while Wagner blares on the stereo? As they move closer to their intended target, a young solider on the helicopter named Chef removes his helmet and sits on it; others quickly follow suit. Taken by the action, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) asks Chef, “Why do all you guys sit on your helmets?” Chef replies, “So we don’t get our balls blown off.”

Yeah… my guess is that Bob McNair, Charley Casserly and Gary Kubiak spent this weekend sitting on their helmets after throwing a massive curveball Friday night when they signed, and then drafted, Mario Williams and not Reggie Bush.

Which is not to say Williams was a bad choice. He wasn’t. It’s easy to defend the pick, primarily because in doing so, it marks the first time the team has defended anything in four years. (Snap.)

Williams, a beast from North Carolina State that can flat-out get after the quarterback, undoubtedly fills what’s been a festering hole on this team for far too long; so long, in fact, I think the hole is likely infected at this point.

And yes, since I’m sure you’ll soon be asking: I did favor Reggie Bush. But let me state emphatically that, unlike far too many of you (and by "you" I mean anyone who created a mock draft and/or a draft board – I mean, seriously?), I don’t pretend to know a whole lot about this process. Fact: I’ve never seen Mario Williams play; never. Fact: I’ve watched Vince Young play exactly twice – once against the Aggies, once against the Trojans. Fact: I’ve seen Bush play on three different occasions this past year (Fresno State, UCLA and Texas) and that’s it. All told, five games among the three prospects not including NCAA 2006 PS2 battles with my buddy, Eli, in which both Bush and Young were beasts… I’m digressing.

So, yeah – I’m not exactly well-versed to render much of an opinion. As such, my backing of Bush was based on everyone else’s opinion. He was the consensus best player in this draft. He had home run potential. He would put a franchise currently running behind the Astros, Rockets, Comets and the YMCA under-30 flag football champions over on Post Oak back on the map.
Sorry, but if an overwhelming number of scouts, general managers and personnel evaluators all reach the same universal conclusion, I’m inclined to give it a little relevance.

Beyond that, though, I really, truly had no investment in Bush. Therefore, if the Texan brain trust deems Williams the better choice… well, I will eat the past four years and assume they know what they’re doing.

Fine. But doesn’t it feel like the organization has once again stacked the deck against a first overall pick of theirs succeeding? They originally stranded David Carr, making him the face of the franchise in 2002, and then… oh yeah, now I remember – forgetting to build a team around him. Four years later, we still don’t know if Carr’s a bust or just a late-bloomer, and the poor kid’s on his third offensive coordinator.

Now comes Williams, who’s entire career will forever be dogged by Bush and Young woulda, shoulda, coulda’s. Trust me, Saturday will not be the last time they follow Williams after the Saints and Titans made them the second and third picks of the draft. All because the organization still, even after a regime change, seems to lack any kind of definitive direction. I mean, if Williams really was the guy… why not tell us that a month ago?

Instead, they left the Young door cracked for months, apparently secure that his orange kool-aid drinking fans would take the hint when the team extended Carr in February. Uhm… yeah, they didn’t. And so the "Draft Vince!" faction was allowed to gather steam and threaten to flatten the process day-after-excruciating-day, from January 4th well into April.

When, at last, Young was bumped from contention (last week, mind you, a full two months after Carr’s deal was made official), the team seemed to focus its attention on Bush, a nice consolation prize by any measure. But then their flirtation with him dragged, too, right up until draft day when, out of nowhere, Williams became a viable option. Even Williams’ agent didn’t really think the Texans were interested until the Wednesday prior to the draft. And now the team is desperately trying to sell Williams as Plan A.

Yeah, right.

So Williams will begin his Texan career on the same hot seat that Carr currently occupies, meaning he has to deliver yesterday in order to hold off the raging masses. If he doesn’t, don’t think we won’t mention Bush’s newest zip-and-zag dash to the goal line or Young’s latest victory that he improbably pulled from the jaws of defeat. Because we will. The team has seen to it personally by screwing over another one of their first overall picks.

The bottom line is that Williams may eventually prove to be the right choice; but the Texans’ handling of the situation was anything but. Which means McNair, Casserly and Kubiak better get used to those helmets.

Ric Sweeney would like to remind everyone that Mario Williams is actually the second member of the Wolfpack to seemingly come out of nowhere to shock the city of Houston, following the well-worn path of Lorenzo Charles. Ric has no idea if this is a good or bad thing, but wanted to get it out there nonetheless.

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