It's funny, the cockiness that begins to creep into a fan base when their team is all of a sudden good. This just in, the Texans are good. So good are they that apparently the style in which they were manhandling the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, slowly grinding them into football smithereens, was aesthetically boring to many Texan fans.
Coming out of the half, my Twitter feed had just as many seemingly bored Texan fans ready to take a nap in the second half as there were fans excited about, you know, being up 17-0 in a road division game.
In the golf movie Tin Cup, there's a scene where Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner) rags on the steady, but boring play of his archival David Sims (played by an out-of-Miami Vice-hibernation Don Johnson), telling him in his own special way how boring pars are. Sims' reply: "I'll take eighteen of them, all day long."
That's kind of how I feel about the Texans. Have their first two games, two 20-point final margin virtual non-events against a couple of crappy teams from Florida, been kind of boring? Yes. But they're wins, and wins with very little stress don't come often in this league.
Put this way -- do you second-half nappers really miss the nonstop string of heartbreak endings from 2009 and 2010? Really?
Um no, I don't. I'll take boring snoozer wins, as David Sims said, "Eighteen of them, all day long." Actually, we want nineteen of them, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Onto four winners and four losers form yesterday....
WINNERS 4. The Bulls on Parade We had heard a bunch of noise before the season about Blaine Gabbert's supposed improvement during the offseason. After Sunday's mess -- 7 of 19, 53 yards for the game -- about the only thing I can say unequivocally improved was Gabbert's haircut. No more flowing locks out of the back of his helmet. Same old soft, confused disaster of a quarterback, but at least he doesn't look like a Vidal Sassoon model.
Credit the defense, who held Gabbert and the Jags to negative four yards passing in the first half. NEGATIVE for yards. And a lot of that is due to the presence of....
3. J.J. Watt As the Texans' game wound down on Sunday afternoon, I tweeted the following:
Since the start of the '11 postseason, it feels like @jjwatt has done more that's mattered for the Texans than Mario did his entire 6 yrs.
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) September 16, 2012
And to be truthful, I only put "it feels like" in there to be cautious, but the fact of the matter is that Mario Williams made zero plays that truly mattered for the Texans in his six years here, partially because the team played in very few games that mattered and partially because Mario spent a majority of games in his Texans career on the side of a milk carton.
Conversely, look at J.J. Watt's game log just over his last four games (the two playoff games, when he should have already hit the dreaded "rookie wall" by the way, and the first two games of this season):
* 1/7/12 vs Cincinnati (W, 31-10): One sack, one pass knocked down, and a pick six to close out the first half (perhaps the most important play in franchise history)
* 1/15/12 at Baltimore (L, 20-13): 12 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, and one tackle for loss. His best game of the season was his last game of the season.
* 9/9/12 vs Miami (W, 30-10): Three tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, three passes knocked down (two of which turned into interceptions)
* 9/16/12 at Jacksonville (W, 27-7): Five tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, two passes knocked down, one fumble recovery, and one new gimmick -- the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag! Love it!
For the Texans, the scary thing about Mario Williams' $96 million contract and $50 million guaranteed is that J.J. Watt is well on his way to actually deserving that kind of money. Mario may get eaten alive by Duane Brown when they face off later this season, but Mario may still get his revenge on the Texans, appropriately by doing nothing but being highly overpaid.
And actually, this would be a GREAT problem for the Texans to have. 2. Offensive Bulls on Parade The Texans running backs' numbers on the day:
* Arian Foster: 28 carries, 110 yards, 6 catches, one touchdown * Ben Tate: 12 carries, 74 yards, 4 catches, two touchdowns
Of the Texans 83 plays run, Foster or Tate touched the ball on nearly sixty percent of them, and Matt Schaub never came close to getting sacked all day. They had one play over 18 yards (a 25 yard run by Tate) because they only needed one play over 25 yards.
Offensively, this was an ass kicking to the n-th degree.
1. Ryan Williams Williams is the starting tailback for the Arizona Cardinals, and in case you missed it, with the Cardinals trying to run out the clock and pull off the biggest upset of the young season (two touchdown underdogs in New England), Williams had a Joe Piscarcik moment and coughed up the football, giving New England life down 20-18 in Arizona territory. Amidst numerous obligatory shots of Williams trying to crawl in a hole, New England found a way to cough the game right back over the Cards (holding penalty on a touchdown, odd decisions, and ultimately a missed field goal).
Williams was vindicated, and according to RJ Bell of pre game.com, fifty percent of "suicide pool" players were eliminated with the Patriots loss. That's what gambling is all about. Bloody financial massacres!
NOTE: For the uninitiated, a "suicide pool" is where you pick one team per week in the NFL to win their game, with one catch -- once you've picked a team to win, you can't pick them again for the rest of the season. If you pick a loser, you're out of the pool. Much harder than it sounds. Speaking of which...
LOSERS 4. Suicide pool adviser So I was driving around Sunday morning, picking up some coffee and kolaches (Not to go all Peter King on all of you, but I had McDonald's coffee for the first time. Not in the same universe as Dunkin Donuts' coffee. Just sayin'.), and I was listening to Mad Dog Radio on the satellite. The host (I believe it was someone named Justin Termine) was doing the usual Sunday morning gymnastics -- NFL previews, college recaps, a little gambling talk -- and he started talking about "suicide pools."
The host apologized to his listeners for giving out the Saints (a 40-32 loser at home to Washington) as his "suicide" play last weekend. Hey, it happens, I get it. But then he proceeded to try and make up for it by giving out "suicide pool" advice for this week! Um, dude, I'm pretty sure that anyone listening to you for "suicide pool" advice got blown out of theirs last weekend. Your damage is done, son.
3. Dallas Cowboys The purpose of Week 2 of the NFL season, seemingly, is to overreact to Week 1, and was there a bigger overreaction than the football world's to Dallas' Week 1 win over the Giants in MetLife Stadium? So convinced was the public on Dallas' chops that they were installed as a four-point favorite in Seattle and the line never moved all week. If you decided that this past weekend was all of a sudden a good time to back Tony Romo as a road favorite in one of the five most hostile environments in the league, well then you deserve whatever came to you.
2. Brian Stropolo Back in the late `80's, there was a WWF referee named Danny Davis, who was under constant scrutiny because he would cheat for many of his favorite wrestlers, all of whom were rulebreakers. The injustices culminated with Davis basically handing the tag team titles to the Hart Foundation in February 1987 after five minutes of their peeing on the rulebook (figuratively). Eventually, Davis was suspended for life, and forced to become a wrestler himself.
Obviously wanting to head off similar controversy to this WWF travesty, the NFL removed replacement official Brian Stropolo from side judge duty on Sunday's Panthers-Saints game after finding pictures of Stropolo tailgating at a Saints preseason game on Facebook. Here is one of the pictures:
I'd love to keep talking about Stropolo, but I'm completely distracted by the glowing radiance of that beauty to the right of Stropolo in the picture. What some of you may see as an XXXXL Drew Brees jersey and a dangling Benson and Hedges smoke, I see as attainability.
1. Sunday NFL Countdown crew I don't know if anyone reading this has a line of communication to the producers of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, but if you do, can you please pass along this message:
When it comes time for Berman and the other four babbling heads to make their predictions on games for the weekend, when all you do is pick favorites in games where the spread is a touchdown or more, you are wasting air time. I don't need to know that all of you agree that the Giants (8-point favorites) are going to beat the Bucs, or that all of you are climbing aboard that Patriot train (14-point favorites) against the Cardinals (wrong pick, by the way).
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Bottom line: My daughter, who watches about an hour of football a month, can pick big home favorites and be right most of the time. Can we please start acknowledging that Vegas puts lines on these games? Please?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.