Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Bum Phillips, RIP

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Former Houston Oilers football coach Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips Jr. has died at age 90. It’s pretty much impossible for anyone who didn’t grow up in Houston during the “Luv Ya Blue” era of of the Earl Campbell Oilers to tell you how much Phillips meant to the city. He may be the most beloved NFL coach never to even reach a Superbowl. Bud Adams firing Philips (and then trading Campbell to New Orleans for a sack of doorknobs) was one of the many, many, many things Oilers owner Bud Adams did to earn the enmity of the city he would eventually deprive of the Oilers.

Philips was an ornery cuss, but a classy one, and 100% Texan. He will be missed.

Edited to Add: Oiler player tributes to Bum. “Everybody loved Bum.”

The 2011 Houston Texans: Great Season, Disappointing End

Monday, January 16th, 2012

December 26, 2010: After watching the Texans lose to the Denver Broncos, making it four losses in a row to fall to 5-10, a despondent fan in the greater Houston area is preparing to commit suicide when the Angel of Football Future descends into his bedroom clothed into the divine light of truth. “Stop!” cried the angel. “I have been sent unto you to save you from despair by bestowing a vision of the 2011 Texans!”

Fan: You mean there’s hope? Does Arian Foster lead the league in rushing again?

Angel: No, he injures his hamstring and misses the first few games.

Fan: What, Arian goes down? Crap! At least tell me that Andre Johnson leads the league in touchdown receptions!

Angel: No, he also has a hamstring injury, and only appears in seven games before the regular season ends.

Fan: Both of Houston’s top offensive weapons suffer hamstring injuries? It just gets worse! Does Mario Williams finally lead the league in sacks?

Angel: No, Mario goes down with a torn pectoral muscle and is lost for the year after the fifth game.

Fan: Gah! Now you’re just tormenting me! Top performers on both offense and defense injured! I suppose you’re going to tell me that Special Teams are awful as well?

Angel: Actually, your rookie punter plays great–

Fan: Finally, a break!

Angel: –but then he’s lost for the year with a non-contact injury.

Fan: Agggggh! It’s like a nightmare you can’t wake from! At least tell me that’s the worst of it, that no more major Texan players go down?

Angel: Uh….

Fan: Wait, more injuries? Mario, Arian, Andre, that’s all the Texan’s superstars…except…

Angel: Uh…

Fan: No! Not Matt Schaub! Tell me Schaub stays healthy!

Angel: Sorry. Albert Haynesworth breaks his foot in the tenth game.

Fan: Bastard! So I suppose Matt Leinart is our starting quarterback for the rest of the season?

Angel: Well, he starts for one game, but he breaks his collarbone just before the half.

Fan: I’m in Hell! I suppose you’re going to tell me we hire some retread QB to lead the team?

Angel: Well, they do sign Jeff Garcia–

Fan: Aggggghhhh! Kill me now!

Angel: And Jake Delhomme does take some in-game snaps…

Fan: WHY, GOD, WHY???? WHY DO YOU HATE THE TEXANS SO MUCH???

Angel: But the starting quarterback for the rest of the season is actually a fifth-round rookie named T.J. Yates.

Fan: I’m dying here! With all that the season must suck hard! What do we finish, 5-11? 4-12?

Angel: No–

Fan: 3-13? 2-14?

Angel: No–

Fan: Aggggggghhhhh! A winless season! We’re as bad as the 2008 Detroit Lions! Life is an unending vale of misery and sorrow!

Angel: No. The Texans go 10-6, win the AFC South and beat the Cincinnati Bengals in their first playoff game ever before losing 20-13 to the Baltimore Ravens on the road.

Fan: What? After all that, our team makes the playoffs and wins a game there? How did we get by Indianapolis?

Angel: Peyton Manning was out for the year with neck surgery and they went 2-14.

Fan: But with Mario out, our defense must have sucked the farts out of dead wildebeest!

Angel: No, after the team hired Wade Phillips and drafted two defense standouts in J. J. Watt and Brooks Reed, the defense went from 30th to 3rd in the league.

Fan: Wow, with all that adversity, that’s a great outcome! A playoff game at Reliant Stadium will rock!

Angel: Indeed it well.

Fan: I guess I won’t kill myself after all! Now, can you give me any hope for the Astros?

Angel: Uh, I think it’s time to end this vision…


Sadly, the Texans’ offense (especially Jacoby Jones) made too many mistake for Houston to make it to the conference finals, but that shouldn’t obscure what a remarkable ride the Texans gave us this season, and what devastating string of injuries they had to overcome to get there. The Texans have both one of the youngest, and one of the best, defenses in the league, and if Schaub. Foster and Johnson can stay healthy, should be serious Superbowl contenders for at least the next few years

Texans 31, Bengals 10

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Quick Impressions of an impressive Texans victory:

  • The defensive line won the game for the Texans, keeping up pressure on Andy Dalton all day.
  • Especially rookie J. J. Watt, who justified his first round status and then some. I don’t think I’ve seen a nervier line-of-scrimmage interception than Watt’s pick-six near the end of the first half. Not only did he get his hands up and grab a bullet, he did it with a defender’s arm between him and the ball, and then ran it in.
  • Watt in the first, Brooks Reed in the second, T. J. Yates in the fifth: Rick Smith had a very good 2011 draft.
  • Not to mention the genius of hiring Wade Phillips.
  • The genius of Gary Kubiak’s downhill running game became apparent when Arian Foster was running at will in the fourth quarter. Assuming he doesn’t get injured, we need to appreciate that Foster is not just a future Hall-of-Famer, but potentially one of the best running backs of all time.
  • The Bengals have a very solid team, but their defense was obviously both tired and demoralized in the fourth.
  • Speaking of future Hall-of-Famers, Andre Johnson took a half to shake off the rust, but then he was the Andre of old.
  • Johnson abused Pacman Jones on his touchdown, and Jones went on to prove that he still has trouble keeping his emotions in check.
  • Though Kubiak has had trouble with clock management in the past, he’s gotten more competent this year. Instead it was Marvin Lewis who unwisely burned timeouts on questionable challenges. And His play-calling with his team down 21 points was just sad. Throws up the middle, burning off precious time you don’t have? Why?
  • Can this team bet the Ravens? It will be a tall order.T.J. Yates is good, but he’s not Matt Schaub. But there’s a chance.
  • With a healthy Schaub and Mario Williams next year, the Texans should be serious Superbowl contenders.
  • Texans Clench AFC South, Playoff Spot

    Sunday, December 11th, 2011

    The Houston Texans beat the Bengals 20-19, which, combined with the Titans loss to the Saints, means that the Texans have clenched the AFC South and are going to the playoffs for the first time in team history.

    Also, Dwight Brown owes me $100.

    In Which Your Host is Vaguely Irritated By Generic Sportswriter Pablum

    Monday, November 21st, 2011

    I was reading this John McClain piece in the Houston Chronicle on Matt Leinart starting at quarterback for the Texans when I ran into this line:

    “Leinart believes he’s ready for the challenge and doesn’t plan to let down his teammates and coaches.”

    The first half of the sentence is fine, but the second half is entirely content-free. Is there any story in the history of sports journalism where a professional athlete said he planned to let his teammates down?

    “John, I plan to throw three interceptions against the Jaguars, then blame everyone around me in a deliberate attempt to let my teammates and coaches down. After that, I plan on spiraling down in a shame-fueled orgy of drunk driving, excessive cocaine use, and sex with high-priced hookers until I’m found lying dead face-down in Charlie Sheen’s hottub.”

    McClain could have just stopped at “Leinart believes he’s ready for the challenge.” without having to dip into the Whole Foods Bulk Cliche Bin.

    “My Forehead Feels Like D-Day”

    Sunday, November 13th, 2011

    If you watched last week’s Texans game against the Cleveland Browns, you might have wondered why he was bleeding so copiously. Well, that happens when an opposing player headbutts you when you’re not wearing your helmet.

    Go to the linked video for the title quote and a ref asking Cushing “Are you having a pleasant day?”

    (And the Texans won their game today against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-9.)

    Houston Texans in Top Ten in Both Offense and Defense

    Thursday, October 6th, 2011

    if you’ve been a Houston Texans fan for any length of time, then you know that no matter how well they do, at the back of you mind is this little nugget of dread that somehow they’re going to blow it. This year, so far, they’ve managed to avoid do that. For one thing, they finally have a decent defense to go with their high-scoring offense.

    Looking at these statistics, the Texans are just one of three teams in the league to be among the top ten in both points scored and fewest points allowed. They’re in eighth place in points scored at 26.8 points a game, and fourth place at 17.5 points allowed, for a differential of 9.3 points. (A total that would no doubt be much higher were it not for some questionable officiating in the Steelers game.) The other two teams are the Detroit Lions (33.8 points scored (2nd)/19 points allowed (8th), for a 14.8 differential) and the Baltimore Ravens (29.8 points scored (6th)/14.3 points allowed (2nd), for a 15.5 differential. Green Bay, whose defense is not in the top ten, also checks in with an impressive 12.7 point differential, thanks to their league-leading 37 points a game. The Texans thus have a good claim to being (statistically) one of the best teams in the league.

    Some might (with some justification) point out that two of the teams the Texans have beaten (Miami and Indianapolis) are winless. Which is true, but A.) Neither the Saints or the Steelers are chopped liver, and B.) Having been in the sad sack side of the win/loss column for many years, Texans fans will take whatever they can get.

    Of course, there’s a lot of football left to play, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be in the top ten of either by the end of the season. But it’s sure a lot better to be sitting at 3-1 than 1-3…

    Texans Slaughter Colts 34-7

    Sunday, September 11th, 2011

    The Texans managed to put together the most dominant half of professional football I’ve ever seen by going up 34-0 in the first half against the Manning-less Colts. The Texans dominated on both sides of the line, Mario Williams got his first sack as an outside linebacker and Ben Tate got his first career touchdown. And Jacoby Jones took a punt return 79 yards for a touchdown, turning what was a rout into a full-blown slaughter.

    Alas, there was also the second half, where conservative play-calling and some bone-headed turnovers let the Colts get on the board and prevented the Texans from padding their lead.

    Matt Schaub was 17 of 24 with 220 yards. The two interceptions are slightly deceptive, as the first one was a freak tip off Andrew Johnson’s fingers.

    I expected the Texans to win this game, but I didn’t expect it to be a laugher. The offense is still plenty potent, but the defense is radically improved from last year’s league-worst unit. Tate’s 100+ yard game proves that last year wasn’t a fluke, and yes, the offensive line is that good at opening holes, with or without Arian Foster (who sat out the game with a tweaked hamstring).

    if they can harness the intensity of the first half and avoid the miscues of the second, not only will they make the playoffs (especially in a weekend AFC South), they should actually be able to make some noise there. Of course, Texan fans felt that after last year’s opening day victory over the Colts, so we’ll see how they do against a murder’s row of an early schedule that has them visiting New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the first six weeks of the season.

    But all in all, I feel very good about my bet with Dwight.

    Random Observations on the Texans beating Oakland

    Monday, October 4th, 2010

    The Texans beat the Oakland Raiders 31-24. I didn’t watch the entire game, so here are a few random observations:

    • Yeah, it’s only the Raiders, but: A.) Any road victory in the NFL is worth celebrating, B.) The Raiders have improved under Tom Cable, and C.) They did it without Andre Johnson.

    • Is there any doubt that Arian Foster is the real deal? 131 yards for two and half quarters of work. The NFL regular season is one-quarter gone and he has 537 yards. If he can average 122 yards for the rest of the season, he’ll be the seventh NFL rusher to go for over 2,000 yards.
    • With Derrick Ward getting 80 yards, we have to consider the possibility that the Texans leading the NFL in rushing isn’t a fluke. The offensive line play has gone from one of the team’s biggest weakness to one of their biggest strengths.
    • Sadly, Houston having the worst defense in the NFL isn’t a fluke either.
    • And that’s despite Houston being fifth in rushing defense and tied for ninth in sacks. Its passing defense is worst by a country mile. The Texans secondary is so bad that it made Bruce Gradkowski look like Tony Romo, it made Tony Romo look like Donavan McNabb, it made Donavan McNabb look like Peyton Manning, and it made Peyton Manning look like Jesus Christ SuperQuarterback. Forget “average;” with an even “bad but tolerable” secondary, the Texans could be a serious Superbowl contender. But they won’t get there by allowing league highs in both passing percentage and yardage.
    • I think the decision not to resign Dunta Robinson was entirely defensible on long-range budgetary considerations, but his lack is certainly hurting the team this year.
    • Texans’ GM Rick Smith should seriously consider trading Steve Slaton to some rushing-hungry team. He had a good run until injuries and fumblitis sidelined him, but he’s the third best rusher on the team right now, and when Ben Tate get’s back from injury next year he’ll probably be the fourth. Does Denver have any cornerback or safety prospects they’d be willing to swap?
    • Another sack for Mario Williams, giving him 5 (third best in the league). Antonio Smith is also playing very solid.
    • Brian Cushing comes back this week. That should help put more pressure on the quarterback, which in turn should help mask the glaring deficiencies in the secondary.
    • The Texans should be favored over the Giants at home this week. Hopefully they’ll respond better than the did for the Dallas game.
    • If you had predicted that the Texans would be 3-1 at this point, without Cushing, before the season started, I’m sure they would have taken it in a heartbeat.

    A Most Improbable Texans Win

    Sunday, September 19th, 2010

    The Texans 30-27 overtime win over the Washington Redskins has to count as one of the most improbable of recent memory. If you had showed up at a Las Vegas betting window right after Donovan McNabb’s touchdown pass to Chris Cooley made it 27-10, you probably could have gotten some pretty steep odds on a Texans victory.

    A few random observations:

    • Those Fantasy Football gurus who suggested sitting Matt Schaub after Arian Foster’s 231 yard day last week have enough egg on their face to feed a family of four omelets for a week. 497 yards passing for Schaub. The Texans are now officially The Team Most likely to Put up Madden Numbers During Any Given Week.

    • Unlike previous years, the Redskins are actually a very solid team (despite Dan Snyder’s best efforts). Given that Philadelphia is also 1-1, and the Cowboys lost again (to the Bears, thanks to two picks by Tony “Perpetually Overrated” Romo), expect them to be in the hunt for the NFC East title for the entire season.
    • The Redskins run defense was much tougher than the Colts, with Arian Foster going from a godlike 231 yards last week to a workman-like 69 yards on 19 carries this week.
    • After two weeks, Houston looks like an honest-to-God playoff team.
    • Three sacks for Mario Williams, for a total of four on the year. I don’t think that anyone can dispute that the Texans got it right in picking him number 1. The Texans defensive line forced McNabb to make amazing throws to dig himself out of third-and-long holes all day.
    • Which, sadly, he made for most of the game. The Texans won’t be a SuperBowl team as long as a weak secondary gives up career passing days for every quarterback they face.
    • The Titans lost. Three turnovers, Vince? (Insert UT fan sigh here) And Chris Johnson gained all of 34 yards. Going to be pretty hard to rack up a 2,500 yard rushing season like that…
    • The Jaguars also lost, which means the Texans now sit alone atop the AFC South for the first time since, well, ever.
    • The Texans aren’t just good, they’re really good, as this was a game they had all but lost before Schaub pulled their chestnuts out of the fire. Come-from-17-points-behind road victories are few and far between in the NFL.
    • The Texans should be favored to beat the Cowboys at home next week. It would be nice if they didn’t dig themselves a 17-point hole at the beginning…