Had I been planning ahead, this might not have been a bad little weekend to get out of town and head to the West Coast. You had my Houston Astros (I know they are mine because the slogan tells me so -- "These are YOUR Astros!" Why thank you, Drayton! Thank you so much!) in San Francisco taking on the Giants in my favorite ballpark in the major leagues, [Whatever phone company it is this year] Ball Park in San Francisco.
Then Saturday night, in Game C of the preseason (continuing to respect the "letter the preseason, number the regular season" nomenclature) the Houston Texans (can they be MINE, too?) took on a bunch of guys wearing San Francisco 49er uniforms (wait, that was their real team?) in a stadium that last week doubled as an Ultimate Fighting cage when the Raiders came to town.
Add to that potential trips to Fisherman's Wharf for the clam chowder and maybe a trip to Alcatraz (say it like Sean Connery, kids -- "Welcome to the ROCK!"), and if I were thinking ahead that would have been a sweet 48 hours.
But alas, I am an idiot. And I am here. Blogging. For you. Let's do this. Four winners and four losers from this weekend's Texans-49ers tilt:
1. Brooks Reed and his high motor There are a lot of little draft dork terms that I like -- fluid hips, wing span, arm slot, great feet. But my favorite is "high motor." Basically what that means is that from the time the ball is snapped to the time the whistle blows to end a play, a player is doing something disruptive, or at the very least attempting to do something disruptive. And at the very, VERY least, moving around feverishly a lot so as to make the uneducated football fans say "WOW he tries hard!" ("High motor" is usually accompanied by "overly exuberant celebrations" and "primal screams.")
Linebacker Brooks Reed has a high motor. All you had to do was watch him in college at Arizona to ascertain this. On the stat sheet last night, Reed had one tackle for loss. That was it. Yet, it felt like he disrupted about five or six different plays and was in the opposing pocket all night long. That's the thing about the high motor; it defies the stat sheet sometimes. Brooks Reed definitely needs to get more playing time, but more on Mario Williams in a minute...
2. Troy Nolan and his Bay Area swag The safety position certainly feels like it's more under control than it was this time last year. (Actually, what position on defense doesn't feel that way?) Glover Quin appears to be making a smooth transition and Danieal Manning is the first true "plus player" veteran they've had back there in the Kubiak Era. (Sorry, Bernard Pollard fans, When you're let go outright by two teams in three seasons...well, I don't need to explain.) The battle for the two spots behind Quin and Manning was going to be interesting. Dominique Barber can't seem to stay healthy, Shiloh Keo is a rookie, so Nolan seemed to have the inside track on a reserve spot anyway. But just to make sure, he had two picks last night including one for a weaving, zig-zagging touchdown. If you remember, last season the Bay Area was kind to Nolan as well when he registered his first two picks of his career against the Raiders. Unrestricted free agency can't get here soon enough for Nolan, who likely has a five-year, $65 million offer from Al Davis waiting for him in two years as a result.
3. San Francisco police I don't personally know any San Francisco police officers, but I would assume most of them are fans of the 49ers. I would also assume the ones who work the beat at Candlestick probably could have used a night off after last weekend's bloodbath in the stands during the preseason game with the Raiders.
I wouldn't blame any of the Bay Area 5-0 if they were privately rooting for a Texans ass kicking so the crowd would leave by halftime and get a night off. Well, wish granted. By the third quarter, Candlestick looked like a Florida Marlins game. 4. The Arizona Cardinals The Cardinals made it a priority this offseason to get their quarterback position shored up, and in maybe the worst-kept secret during the lockout, they made then-Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb their A-1 priority. (Kolb-to-Arizona was a poorly kept secret throughout the whole process, up to and including the Eagles making Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie jerseys available the day before it was announced he would be moved for Kolb.) Well, not only did the Cards get their guy, but they gave him six years and $63 million to boot. So after watching the 49ers (all of a sudden more than a dark horse in the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes), the Seahawks (also on the S4L short list), and the Rams (improving but still not a top 10 team in the NFC), if the Cardinals don't win the NFC West, then Kolb will have some explaining to do.
1. Arian Foster's hamstrings I actually have to sit down and write the Texans 2011 preview today for the print edition of the Houston Press. I enjoy doing it, but the inherent problem with a deadline for a print edition of anything is that stuff can change between deadline and release date. The deadline for the story is August 29 and it hits newsstands on September 8. And so here we have Arian Foster's hamstring acting up again. I feel like an entertainment writer doing a feature on Charlie Sheen this past March. Can you imagine writing something about Sheen that wasn't going to be published for ten more days? Hell, you didn't know if it would be obsolete in the next ten minutes! That's how reliable that hamstring is right now. Everyone (including Arian himself) says his hammie will be fine, but how do I know it won't up and move in with two porn stars and start its own standup comedy tour by the time September 8 rolls around?
2. Arian Foster fantasy owners By the way, Foster had a message on Twitter Sunday afternoon for people who were "concerned" about his injury (edited for clarity):
" For those sincerely concerned, I'm doing ok and plan to be back by opening day. For those worried about your fantasy team, you people are sick."
Some people actually got a bit offended by this tweet, but people need to understand a few things:
1. Hamstring injuries are a pain in the ass. Nagging and they feel like they may never go away.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
2. This is a hugely important year for Arian Foster personally. He hasn't been paid the big coin yet. He needs another year close to what he did in 2010 to make that happen. In other words, excuse Foster if he doesn't give a shit about "Lenny Dykstra's Crank" getting bragging rights in your $50-per-dude fantasy league.
3. Jacoby Jones Hard to do anything that would be considered ultra-costly in a game that was basically over once the Texans took their first lead, but there were at least three times during the game where you realize that "Why did the Texans decide to pay Jacoby Jones again?" is a legitimate question. In the first quarter, on third and goal, Schaub zinged a pass to Jones that looked very catchable and it sailed past his head. Later in the first half, on a punt return, Jones fumbled the ball but luckily it rolled out of bounds. Then in the third quarter, Matt Leinart lofted a sideline out route to Jones that hit him in the breadbasket and fell to the ground. With Jacoby Jones, it boils down to this -- I like his energy, I like his swagger, I think he's a pretty good (not great) athlete. But here's the problem -- he doesn't DO ANYTHING that about 500 other guys couldn't do. Even worse, he NEVER makes plays that star players make. He makes about 90 percent of the routine plays (in the NFL, 98 percent is considered acceptable), and he makes ZERO percent of the non-routine plays. So I repeat "Why did the Texans decide to pay Jacoby Jones again?"
4. Mario Williams as a linebacker If Brooks Reed's stat line of one tackle was deceiving, Mario Williams' stat line of nothing was entirely appropriate. Mario was not anywhere on the stat sheet, anywhere on my television screen, he was a complete zero. Remember Henry Hill's line at the end of Goodfellas when he said that the only things you have to show he was alive was his birth certificate and his arrest sheet? That's Mario right now. His birth certificate and a tape of the Thursday night game against the Broncos in 2008. That's all we have to know Mario Williams was alive. This move to linebacker is going to take time. Time is the one luxury the Texans do not have.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio (Sirius 94, XM 208) and on 1560 The Game, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.