Houston Texans Fans: It’s Not Just One Game; Texans One More Bad Coach from Being Bengals/Lions
First the good news for Texans fans:
The sky is not falling.
The bad news is, the heavens caved in on this team ages ago.
Every year, it is the same dance between the Houston Texans, the local media and Houston’s NFL fans. The Texans trot out a lump of coal. The media tells Houston fans that the coal is, in fact, a bar of gold. And the eternally hopeful Houston fans pay a gold-standard premium for coal that never ignites.
The time to do this was actually three seasons and one game ago when the Texans decided to go ahead and hire Gary Kubiak to be their head coach, but nobody would listen. Maybe they will now. So hear this and hear it good: The Houston Texans are dangerously close to being placed in the waste of a franchise category with perennial losers like the Lions and Bengals. The Saints seem to have relocated, so there is plenty of room.
Although Houstonians read and hear every day about how this team is poised to break out, it is always the same thing. This team folds up and dies any time they are faced with a physical team or semi-meaningful game. When they play elite teams, they get run out of the stadium.
But for the last two seasons, they have managed to win a meaningless game here and there at the end of the season to get them up to 8-8. This is disastrous because after so many years of suffering, first from losing a team in 1996 and then from gaining a team in 2002, all Houston fans need is a sliver of hope, and they find it in their hearts to believe. Texan fans have been told so many times that this team has turned the corner, they should consider sending Texans’ owner Bob McNair a GPS so he can be clear about where he is going.
Right now, the Texans aren’t going anywhere. I would say they are going straight to the bottom, but they are pretty much already there. They have finished last in their division six times and second-to-last once. Yet for some reason, there has been a lot of hype about this team this year.
A lot of people expect this to be a playoff caliber team. Some pundits even picked them to leapfrog Tennessess and Indy to win the division. But seriously, to really believe that, one would have to have the brains of a recently clubbed dead seal.
In King’s latest NFL prognostications for SI, writer Damon Hack (No, really his name is Hack) picked the Texans to win the AFC South. I excuse him because I know everyone is always out to find this year’s breakout team. If you don’t watch the Texans religiously, and all you have is the Houston media to depend on, you would have every reason to think the Texans would be the team to bust loose this year.
These Texans are a key injury away from having an awful season this year. That said, they are perfectly capable of playing awful football if they stay perfectly healthy. They are not a particularly talented NFL team. What’s worse is, if they don’t find the right guys to lead the team after Kubiak and his cronies are inevitably asked to clean out their desks, the Texans will officially be considered a permanent joke with a recurring punchline. One morning the hardest of the hard core will wake up and realize, “Oh my lord, we’re the Bengals.”
Lets briefly look at the last three seasons and one game for the Texans with Kubiak at the helm:
Year One, 2006/07
Kubiak inherited a god-awful 2-14 Texan team (Whom, we were assured by the team and media, was poised for a playoff run before the 2-14 debacle. When I protested to anyone who would listen, “But all of our players suck,” I was branded a “hater.”) after assuring Texan owner Bob McNair that David Carr had what it took to make this a Super Bowl team. So OK, he wanted a job. I guess the Texans wanted a “Yes man.”
Kubiak lead the team to a 6-10 record, including a late season win over Indy. Owner Bob McNair issued the first corner turning announcement of the new regime. Setting a trend that would continue until today, the media, Texans and many fans ignored the fact that the victory came after Indy had clinched the division. Kubiak’s Texans do a lot of their winning once they have been eliminated from the playoffs. Kubiak is treated like a conquering hero for leading a rise from awfulness to just plain bad and boring.
All we heard about was how much the team improved. Nobody mentioned that it would be almost impossible not to improve on 2-14. Worth noting: During the previous off-season, when tickets were on sale, Texan fans were told the team was not rebuilding. But after Kubiak’s 6-10 triumphant debut, all we heard about was how far we had progressed considering it was the first season of rebuilding. Imagine that.
Year Two, 2007/08
After another boring year of Kubiak football, the Texans had to beat the Jags in Jacksonville on the last day of the season to hit the magical 8-8 mark. The Jaguars rested their starters for the playoffs. The Texans beat their second-stringers to go 8-8. The city is pumped. In only two years the Texans have gone from 2-14 to 8-8!
Forget that the Dolphins went from 1-15 to the playoffs in one year. It didn’t matter that the Texans’ division rival Tennessee Titans had gone been 5-11 the same year the Texans were 2-14 and were now back in the playoff picture. As many Houston media members and fans were quick to point out, the Dolphins were a fluke, the Titans weren’t hampered by the salary cap like the Texans and Houston was building a solid base to support a winner for years to come.
Year Three, 2008/09
Oh, boy, were Texan fans excited! Never mind that they had just suffered through another year of bad football. Never mind that they still lacked talent and depth when compared to any of the good teams in the NFL. The Texans said they would be good, the media agreed and the sheeple kept buying tickets. Of course, once they opened the season by taking an ass beating from Pittsburgh and losing their first four games, the jig was up.
Well, you would think it would be.
While I am only going over the broad strokes for this (It would take way too long to go over every Texan absurdity in one post), there is one thing that will always stick out in my mind from this season. During a 30-27 overtime loss to the Jags, Kubiak left the punt return team out on the field although the Jags were clearly going for it on fourth down. While fans around the city jumped up and down and screamed at the TV for Kubiak to call a time-out, the coach just stood their looking like Corky from “Life Goes On”‘s stunt-double. After the Jag’s inevitable touchdown and OT win, Kubiak said he thought they had it covered. Because all football guys know that it is easy for a punt returner to flip a switch and suddenly turn into a one man gang of a secondary.
Luckily, Kubiak settled the troops down and went on an absolute tear once divisions and playoff berths had been decided. The Texans were 8-8 again! And the sweet, sweet mediocrity was enough for the Houston press to let us know how close this team was. Again.
The funny thing is how easy it has become to predict how the Houston media will cover for the Texans. Hurricane Ike caused some rescheduling early on last year, so you knew someone would have to bring that up. True to form, the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice wrote a wonderfully forgettable piece doing just that.
I seem to remember San Diego dealing with wildfires the year before Hurricane Ike. How did the Chargers respond in their first game after the fires? The humiliated the Texans 35-10.
I seem to remember the Saints in the NFC Championship game the year before that. I believe there had been something of a hurricane in their area before that season.
But while other teams played football, the Texans continued and continue to make excuses.
The press couldn’t stop telling us how far we had come from the 2-14 days. Forget that the Texans got smoked every time they faced a good team in a game that mattered. Forget that the Atlanta Falcons had gone from 4-12 (With a win over the Texans!) in 2007, but improved to 11-5 and a playoff spot in just one year. Certainly that was just an aberration, I was told many times. As one Houston Texan fan hilariously posted on Chron.com, that was just “smoke and mirrors.” Believe me, you put Kubiak in a room full of smoke and mirrors, when he comes out all you’ll have is broken glass.
This idea was particularly inane in light of the fact that on top of dealing with sucking, the Falcons had to bounce back from the Michael Vick scandal. Of course, it helps when you can start rebuilding before you even know that you need to rebuild. But to do that, you need to find a team dumb enough to give you two second round draft picks for your back-up quarterback. The fact that Atlanta is loaded and poised for a strong run this season is meaningless. It must be the Texans who have the blueprint for team building. They told us so!
The best part was, of course, listening to all the reasons that the 2008/09 “8-8″ was far superior to the 2007/08 “8-8.” Lost on the whole world, apparently, is that 8-8 is 8-8 in any year.
Year Four, 2009/10
Lets keep this quick. The Texans got kicked in the teeth at home on opening day by a team with a first-year head coach (Rex Ryan, who made Kubiak look like a confused child last year too as D-coordinator for Baltimore), a rookie quarterback (Mark Sanchez) and sans their two best pass rushers. I can only imagine what a field day the Houston media would have with that laundry list of excuses. All they had to fall back on for the Texans though was Matt Schaub’s bum ankle. Which brings us to this: If you have ever found yourself saying “The Texans’ season depends on Matt Schaub’s health,” what you are really saying is “We will suck this season.” It’s like saying, “This will be a good year for music depending on Kanye West’s maturity.”
The best part is, the Houston media is still on board, warning that it is just one game. This is what Justice had to say in his blog for Chron.com today:
I like Gary Kubiak and I still believe in Gary Kubiak. I’ve been around enough NFL coaches to at least think I know a good one from a bad one. I’m close friends with one of the five greatest coaches in NFL history.
I think Gary Kubiak has qualities that good coaches have. I think he’s tough enough on his players, that his schemes are good, that he’ll someday be a winning coach in the NFL.
We have seen nothing on the field or off to justify any of these statements besides the one about Justice liking Kubiak. Of course, he also rode former Texan GM Charley Casserly’s jock like it was a mechanical bull and if he let go he would be thrown into a pit full of razor blades and acid. So this guy clearly knows what it takes to build a winner. Justice could be sucking off “Pappa Bear” Halas every day during his lunch break, and maybe he would if it would get him five more minutes on “Around the Horn”, but that doesn’t make Gary Kubiak a good coach.
Another Chron.com, Jerome Solomon, who is a righteous dude and normally quite sane and cogent had this to say today:
I’ve told you many times that Gary Kubiak is capable.
But his growing pains have hurt the Texans tremendously, and we saw more of that on Sunday.
“We obviously weren’t ready to play and that starts with me,” Kubiak said. “You play that poorly, that starts with the coach. I didn’t have them ready to go.”
It’s weird. I love King Solomon’s blog, I read it all the time and I recommend that you do too. But for some reason, whatever it is, the Houston media refuses to see Kubiak for what he is: a bum. And I don’t mean that he is a bum of a human being. I don’t know the guy. I don’t care if he spends his free time stuffing dollar bills into the church collection box or some stripper’s box. All I know is he can’t game plan or adjust, manage the clock or win a coach’s challenge to save his life. He is just plain bad. And the results are there for us to see 16 weeks a year. More if you count the preseason. 16 if you count the playoffs.
So, Houston media, please stop telling us the Texans and Gary Kubiak are capable, turning corners and will get it done. You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool a man who is covered from head to toe in red and blue body paint and tears because he just spent his kids’ college money on a shit product, all the time. Enough is enough.
It’s not just one bad game. It’s seven seasons and one game’s worth of bad football. And enough spin to make a dreidel dizzy (Houston Texan Hannukah Promtoional Idea: Five-Sided Dreidel Give Away Day;”A great miracle did not happen here”). If the Texans don’t get it right next time, they will be firmly entrenched in also-ran territory for the foreseeable future. It only took Tampa Bay about 30 years to escape.
Sadly, due to the Texans’ easy schedule, this team could pull of a record mediocre enough to do it all again next year.
So there is no need to brown bag it to the games. Just throw on a Lions or Bengals jersey. That should get the point across.
I would also like to send out a preemptive apology to Corky from “Life Goes On.” I only think that Kubiak looks like you physically when he is confused, and he does. In no way am I implying that you are slow or an imbecile just because I compared you to Gary Kubiak.
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