49ers 34, Texans 3: Mad Matt Beyond Schauberdome
If anyone thought last week's loss to Seattle was rock bottom, think again. That loss was a mere night in the drunk tank. Sunday night in San Francisco for the Texans was more like having your stomach pumped after being found unconscious covered in your own vomit. In one week, the Texans went from needing to cut back on that third glass of wine weeknights to a full-blown heroin addiction that requires an intervention that ends in, "I don't need friends! I've got my smack!"
If you think I'm being overly dramatic, keep in mind that on the first throw of the game, three plays into Sunday Night Football, Matt Schaub threw an interception for a touchdown, his fourth pick six in as many weeks breaking an NFL record. He recorded two other interceptions in the game and should have had a fourth picked off before he was mercifully sent to the bench in favor of T.J. Yates. In fact, it was so bad that NOT benching Schaub could have classified as cruel and unusual punishment for the Texans' starting QB, never mind his teammates or the fans.
This is not to say Yates is the starting quarterback next Sunday. There is a fairly good chance neither Yates nor third-string QB Case Keenum are legit NFL starting quarterbacks, but it's gotten so bad for Schaub, Gary Kubiak must consider it. If and when Schaub does return, it's hard to imagine he or his teammates will have much confidence in his ability to get it done any longer.
But, as bad as Schaub was, there was plenty of blame to go around.
What went right: The Running Game
Arian Foster ran for 98 yards and 4.7 yards per carry. Ben Tate had his moments as well, despite yet ANOTHER fumble, but Foster is rounding into midseason form. The offensive line did a good job opening holes, but credit Foster for finding them and exploding through the line. His vision was stellar and he looked like the guy we saw two seasons ago.
Runner Up: Overall, despite the final score, the defense was very good. Colin Kaepernick only managed six completions in the ENTIRE GAME -- not in a quarter or a half, a whole game. Minus a 26-yard carry, Frank Gore only ran for 55 yards and the rest of the backs for SF didn't fare much better.
What went wrong: Ed Reed
I don't want to go on beating up on Schaub. It's like abusing a declawed kitten. But, it seems much easier to take shots at a future Hall of Famer who, it would appear, took the Texans to the cleaners this offseason. His hip injury appears more and more like a hip replacement surgery because Reed looks old...like really old. When he was beat late in the game by Vernon Davis, I swear I heard him yell, "Get off my lawn you damn kids" while waving his cane at the 49er bench.
What must improve: Turnovers
The Texans turn the ball over a lot and don't take the ball away almost ever. After last night, they are now -8 in turnovers for the year, 29th in the entire NFL. It's an embarrassing stat that puts them among the worst of the worst teams in the league. Unless they begin forcing turnovers or Schaub miraculously stops throwing picks, their record will soon be in the neighborhood of those miserable teams who rank with them in this category.
Runner up: Everything else, but honestly, can the special teams get any worse? While Trindon Holiday, a castoff from the Texans, has become one of the best return men in the NFL, the Texans muddle along with mediocre returners, a kicker no one can trust at this point and coverage that is beyond awful. If not for stud punter (yes, I put those two words together) Shane Lechler, special teams would have zero redeeming value.
What should stay the same: Defensive Intensity in the second half.
Give the D credit. They came out on fire in the second half and played possessed. This is not to say they don't play hard much of the time. Any team with JJ Watt is going to have a high motor, but they did everything possible to keep the game save force some turnovers.
What did we learn from the game?
There is very little accountability on this team. When Tate fumbles, he heads to the bench. Only after Schaub blunders his way to four straight weeks with pick sixes and then two additional interceptions in the last game does he get sat down. Even then, it could be argued it was simply sitting him in a blowout. Then there is special teams coach Joe Marciano. How he still has a job is one of the more baffling mysteries of the universe. If Leonard Nimoy still hosted In Search Of, this enigma would get as much run as the Loch Ness Monster or Area 51.
What do we never want to see/hear again?
If I never hear the term "pick six" associated with the Texans, it will be too soon. In four games, Schaub has thrown five touchdowns to his own players and FOUR TO THE OTHER TEAM. It would be pathetic if it weren't so depressing.
Key Moment of the Game
On the third play from scrimmage, Matt Schaub threw an short out route to Andre Johnson. Backup defensive back Tramaine Brock jumped the predictable route and strolled into the end zone for a touchdown. It was downhill from there.
Game Balls: JJ Watt
Seriously, could this guy be any better? He was all over the field and just brutal against the run. If there is a better defensive player in the league, I'd like to know who it is. If there is a better PLAYER in the NFL, let me know that too.
For the second straight game, Foster looked like the guy who blew us all away two seasons ago. He is hitting the hole with speed and aggression. Had the Texans not fallen in a 21-0 hole, he could have run for 150-plus yards.
Goat of the Week: Gary Kubiak
At this point, there is no point in piling on Schaub any more. Kubiak's insistence on keeping him in the game was not only bad for the team, but horrible for Schaub. He also continued to call pass plays that put Schaub in difficult situations throughout the game. It was irresponsible and indefensible. I'm beginning to wonder if Kubiak is the most stubborn person on the planet or just not very bright.
Random thought of the week:
As I was watching the game, I began to think, "And we thought the Astros were tough to watch." There is something about a team this good that plays this bad to make me think it would be easier on everyone if they just plain sucked. If nothing else, they would guarantee themselves a higher draft pick so they could get a quarterback.
Next Up: Home for St. Louis
Their third straight week against an NFC West team brings at least a bit of a break. The Rams are pretty awful, which MIGHT allow Houston to get back on track, particularly on their home turf. But the question remains: who will be the QB? Stay tuned.
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