By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Unfortunately, anyone interviewing for the Texans opening knew enough to say that the problem wasn't David Carr, it was just that David Carr — as Christian and media-friendly as he was — just wasn't being coached properly. So that meant the Texans would have to endure another season of David Carr.
The upside, in terms of expectations, was that it was all but impossible to get any worse. The downside is that even with improvement, the team, which should by now have been a serious playoff threat, would be happy with only a slightly less-bad record.
With the bar set at that incredibly low level, this was one season where things actually did go about as planned.
Season Highlight: With the first pick in the draft, talk-show stations in the city became endless marathons of whether the Texans should take consensus top man Reggie Bush or hometown favorite Vince Young. They instead picked Mario Williams, a decision Houstonians took calmly and quietly. And by "calmly and quietly," we mean "like Christian Bale on a movie set." Young went on to have a good couple of years, but since then it's become clear — the Texans made the right choice.
But, being the Texans, they couldn't even do something right without alienating three-quarters of their fans first.
Season Lowlight: The Titans, of all teams, drafted Vince Young. In October the Texans went there to play them. Carr was pathetic. When he wasn't being sacked, he was throwing interceptions. It got so bad he was benched, in favor of Sage Rosenfels. Rosenfels immediately threw an interception. Young trotted on the field and threw a TD pass. The tears of Houston fans were bitter and copious; the laughter of Bud Adams was maniacal and dark. In Adams's superbox, someone yelled to turn down the Simpsons, only to discover it was Bud himself sneering "Exxxxxcelllllllent."
Oh, and later in the year defensive lineman Fred Weary got himself Tasered by Houston cops over a traffic stop where no charges were filed.
Inexplicable Moment Which Summed Up the Texans' Futility: The Texans held the New England Patriots to just 230 total yards in their game, an impressive feat against a team led by Tom Brady. Sure, they lost 40-7, but it could have been a lot worse. We guess.
Trend Which Cruelly Gave Hope for the Future: DeMeco Ryans, the team's second draft pick this year (again, no sense picking offensive players), won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. That's gotta bode good, right? Also, it finally became abundantly clear that it was "boo" that David Carr had been hearing all along, and with good reason. His Texans career, such as it was, was over.
Final Season Record: 6-10. Familiar mediocre territory, but once again the sadistic imp of Hope raised its ugly head. Why, 6-10 was a four-game improvement over 2-14, and if they did that again: playoff time, baby!
The Sixth Season: All Right, This Time We Really Mean It! Playoffs!!
Carr left, and in return the Texans got...Matt Schaub. Fans learned that despite their first assumption, Schaub was not the guy who'll paint your car for $39.95 — that's Earl Scheib. Even without that great deal, Schaub did possess one indisputable advantage — he was not David Carr. Especially, as it turned out, in terms of Carr's ability to generally avoid injuries and stay on the field.
With their first draft pick, the Texans looked at how their consistent policy of picking defensive players had led them nowhere and picked...a defensive player. Amobi Okoye was only 19 years old, trying to play against grown men, but Texans officials were confident he would...he would...Don't ask too many questions, dammit!
For the first time in franchise history, the Texans would head into the season with a quarterback who was 100 percent not David Carr; they were coming off a season in which a new coach led them to a markedly better record; they only needed to make a similar improvement and they'd make a serious run for the playoffs.
Things didn't quite work out as planned.
Season Highlight: The Texans won their first two games of the season, including scoring 34 points against the Carolina Panthers. Since Texans points are the "dog-year" equivalent of NFL points, they essentially rang up about 240 points on the Panthers. Next in to Reliant was the Super Bowl champ Indianapolis Colts. And Texan Jerome Mathis took the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown as the stadium exploded. The season, at that point, had limitless possibilities.
Season Lowlight: Once again it was the Titans doing the damage. The Texans fell behind early and often in their game against Tennessee, yet still managed to put up 29 points in the fourth quarter, thrilling fans in Reliant with the thought of a comeback. As time ran out, though, Titans kicker Rob Bironas set an NFL record with his eighth field goal of the game to eke out a two-point win. Eight field goals? That's like a tortoise beating a hare. Someone oughta write a story about that, or a fable, or something.
Inexplicable Moment Which Summed Up the Texans' Futility: The Texans were at 3-4 on the season, still nursing playoff hopes, when they went into San Diego. Down 7-0, they lined up to punt it from their own 33-yard line. The snap sailed way over punter Matt Turk's head and into the end zone. Turk followed it there and reached the ball, which he could have then kicked out of bounds or fallen on for a safety. Or, possibly, picked it up and scrambled 104 yards for a Texans TD. Instead he attempted to fall on it...and somehow missed. The three or four feet between him and the ball on the ground proved to be too much, and he simply whiffed on his attempt to land on it. A Charger managed the acrobatic feat, however, and San Diego was on its way to a 35-10 victory.