Turn Around, Bright Side…

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September 21, 2006
Turn Around, Bright Side…

by Ric Sweeney

Hey, look on the bright side: At least Peyton Manning provided more fuel for our burning hatred of him. Up 20-3 at halftime against our defenseless Texans, Manning came out and threw more second half passes (18) than David Carr (14), who, you know, was kind of, sort of trying to make up a 4-score deficit. Manning even threw six times in the fourth quarter with his team up by 27.

What a movie starring Johnny Knoxville.

Here’s hoping that when he cuddles with Archie and Eli later this winter to watch the NFL playoffs, the lasting memories of Sunday will help soothe the sting of a ninth consecutive season not ending with a Super Bowl appearance.

Meanwhile, since there’s roughly a 138% chance the Texans will be joining the Mannings on the sidelines this January, here’s hoping David Carr’s performance in the same game does more than heal the wounds of a lost season; let’s hope it was more evidence that Gary Kubiak has the quarterback pointed in the right direction.

Carr finished 22/26 with three touchdowns and no interceptions on the day. Ordinarily, those numbers would be hailed; it resulted in a 140.2 QB rating. Many, however, want to categorically dismiss the effort as meaningless since most of the numbers came after the Colts had built that 27-point lead.

And those many make a solid point. Carr was 10/13 for 146 yards and three scores in the fourth quarter. Prior to, as the Colts were jumping to a 30-3 lead, he was 12/13 for 73 yards, no scores, 4 sacks and a fumble.

So is the glass half full, half empty, or shattered into a million pieces and then stomped on by the cast of The Biggest Loser? I favor a glass with 6 ounces of beer, personally, and here’re five reasons why, one for every year Carr’s been in the league:

1. The Alternative
Would you have preferred 4/26, 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions? And had Carr hung that line on us, would we have also dismissed its significance as meaningless since it came against second- and third-stringers? Besides, I haven’t heard anyone dismiss Manning’s performance, and he was playing against second- and third-stringers the entire game.

2. 5-20
Prior to this year, the Texans had lost 20 of their previous 25 games by an average deficit of 14 points; 10 were by 14 or more points. If we’re going to eye-roll positive performances in blow-outs, shouldn’t we also toss out negative performances in blow-outs? And if so, wouldn’t that render Carr’s entire 2005 season non-existent?

You can’t have it both ways. He’s either slowly but surely getting better or he’s made absolutely no progress, good or bad, since 2004. Which is it?

3. There Are No Coincidences
Denver has scored just 19 points in their first two games of the post-Kubiak era. Without his offensive coordinator, Jake Plummer has reentered the earth’s atmosphere and splashed down somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean; and chances are pretty good Mike Shanahan is going to leave him there. Plummer’s numbers so far this year: 0 touchdowns; 4 interceptions; 38.6 QB rating.

Oh, by the way, Carr is second in the NFL with a 123.7 QB rating…

4. Properly Allocating Blame
For the record, after a disastrous start on their first two possessions (which Carr definitely contributed to), the Texans, trailing 14-0, drove to the Colts’ 23 on their third series before Wali Lundy’s fumble ended the drive with no points. After a chop block derailed the next possession, and Indianapolis added three more points, Carr completed 5 of 7 passes and drove to the Colts’ 25 on the team’s fifth series before Kubiak went conservative and kicked a field goal.

With 1:49 left in the half, Houston trailed 17-3. Could have been 17-6; maybe 17-10; possibly 17-14. Regardless, the next time Carr took a snap, they trailed 27-3. Truth be told, Carr had the team in position to make a game of it and had others ruin those opportunities. From there, he never had the chance to play with the game still on the line.

5. The Roses
There’s going to be an ocean of bad in 2006; if small, incremental signs of progress don’t float your boat, you may want to find something else to do the next 14 Sundays so you don’t drown in the suck.

Prior to this year, Carr’s been battered, kicked, punched, punched again and forced to hang out with Chris Palmer. At this point, he’s jumpier than a Vietnam vet at a fireworks show. If Carr comes away from Sunday’s game with another small piece of his shattered confidence restored, regardless of how it happened, how is that a bad thing?

For those of us who have been there from the beginning and watched the franchise fall into the abyss, things like the fourth quarter on Sunday are the roses we have to remember to stop and smell on the road back to respectability.

Otherwise, Manning’s inevitable choke is still four months away.

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