Monday, September 17, 2007
On The Rise Like Yeast
The Texans are 2-0.
In other news, the war in Iraq is over, the Trail Blazers did not make a mistake in drafting Greg Oden, and David Carr is just about ready to take the league by storm. (That last one may have been a stretch. Okay it was.)
Not only are the Texans undefeated after two weeks, they've looked like an actual playoff contender in the process, especially considering that we Houston football fans haven't been too familiar with such a sight in like 14 years.
New quarterback Matt Schaub has proved that he was ready for the limelight when he left the ATL for a starting spot in H-Town. He's thrown for 452 yards in the first two contests, with 3 TDs, only one interception, and a un-Houston-QB-like 111.4 passer rating. Not only that, he's actually provided some leadership, which is important, seeing as though he's the quarterback and all.
Excuse us Bayou City fans for getting all excited about a 2-0 start and the new QB who led us to it. It is the first time the 6-year history of the franchise that we've started the regular season on a 2-game winning streak. (And we would fawn over Trent Dilfer in Houston, as long as he was replacing David "Raggedy" Carr. The city suffered through years and years of forced throws to Andre Johnson after staring him down for 10 seconds, taken sacks on 3rd down, and the look of a guy that would rather be surfing than leading an NFL offense.)
Schaub and the Texans got their second win against Carr (well, Jake Delhomme, we all know Carr will never start again) and the Panthers, overcoming a 14-0 deficit by scoring 31 unanswered points, resulting in a 34-21 win.
What was more impressing was the fact that they did this in Carolina, on the road, against a team that (stupidly) is a trendy Super Bowl pick almost every year. The Texans D shut down the Carolina rushing attack, holding Deshaun Foster and Deangelo Williams to only 53 yards and forcing three costly turnovers. Dunta Robinson got a great interception off Delhomme (who was forcing it to Steve Smith) that pretty much put the game away.
New RB Ahman Green has rushed well in Houston, going for 144 yards for the Texans in the first couple of games. Even more important, he's looked completely healthy, which means I have to reluctantly big up my boy Blaze for correctly predicting that. (Damn!) And rookie WR/KR playmaker Jacoby Jones has looked good coming out of the preseason where he wowed the nation.
(Side note: I started my franchise on NFL Madden '08 with the Texans recently, and I was shocked to see how low Jones was rated. 67 overall? Only a 92 in speed? 81 on punt/kick returns? Did they not watch any tape of this dude. He's a beast. Oh, and every other Texans WR not named Andre Johnson is ranked so low, you have no choice but to give up somebody for a 3rd-down possession receiver. It's pathetic. Their O-line, suprisingly, is nice though, and Mario Williams is an absolute monster on Madden. I'm ranting now, that's it.)
With the Super Bowl champ Colts coming to town next Sunday, the focus must now shift to the things the Texans need to do to actually have a chance against Manning and co.:
Do not get burned. Steve Smith caught three TD passes Sunday, including one where about 20 Texan defenders touched and failed to wrap him up before he broke loose, which is unacceptable. The Colts receivers have traditionally put up big numbers against the Houston secondary, excluding last year's Texans win in Reliant. The secondary is improved, but not yet good enough to shut down Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark. Of course a lot of that would be alleviated if we....
Get to Manning. Gary Kubiak isn't going to blitz Peyton Manning much, Robinson and Demarcus Faggins would get torched, more so Faggins. A little pressure from the Texans front line could possibly rattle Peyton and knock their offense off-beat. Maybe Mario, Amobi Okeye, and Anthony Weaver can take advantage of a couple new starters on Indy's vaunted O-line.
Score early and often. Schaub and the offense have averaged 27 ppg in the first two, and they will probably need to match that to beat the Colts. Indy's offense was on fire in Week 1 against the Saints, and despite a bunch of mistakes, still managed 22 points against the Titans in Week 2. Either that, or the Texans can take a page out of Tennessee's playbook: keep it close until the final stretch and try to come through in the clutch. (Unfortunately, this didn't work for the Titans.)
All in all, it's good to finally be able to root for a team that has the mental fortitude and talent to have a chance to win every Sunday. It got really depressing tuning in to CBS every Sunday and wagering on how many dumbass plays Carr was going to make in the first half that would make sure there was no chance at winning in the second.
I'm not saying the Texans should be considered Super Bowl sleepers, but, we're on the way.