NFL Week 1: Schaub Gets Rich(er), Buffalo Gets Poor(er) -- 4 Winners, 4 Losers
One down, 15 to go
Photo by Marco Torres
Check out our slideshow of the Houston Texans' season opener against the Dolphins.
Could Sunday have been any better? 80-degree day. Sun shining. Birds singing. NFL football back in our lives. Oh, and someone left a whole book of Burger King coupons in the lobby of my building. SCORE!
So yeah, there was me, but there were other winners. And yeah, there was John L. Smith (Seriously, dude...Louisiana-Monroe??), but there were other losers.
And here they are...
WINNERS 4. Andre Johnson's body parts It seems like over the last two years, it's been one thing after another with Andre Johnson's body. From freak injuries (sprained ankle in 2010) to nagging injuries (hamstrings #1 and #2 last season) to "here we go again" nagging injuries (strained groin in training camp), it feels like we could have made our own version of "Operation: The Wacky Doctor's Game" with Dre's head photoshopped onto the pear-shaped body of the cartoon star of the game. Sunday was a great start to what will hopefully be a fully healthy 2012 for the face of the franchise -- 8 catches, 119 yards and one acrobatic, vintage Andre touchdown.
3. Matt Schaub's children, born and yet to be born Through the preseason and one game of the regular season, you can make a strong argument for Matt Schaub as not only the Texans' most important player, but also their best player. After Sunday's win over the Dolphins, it was announced that Schaub had signed a four-year, $62 million (around $30 million guaranteed) extension that will likely allow him to finish his career in Houston, if all goes as planned. Interesting because it was widely speculated the Texans would wait until after the season to get Schaub's deal done, but they apparently are confident in his health and also probably happy to eliminate any potential distraction as they chase a Super Bowl ring in 2012.
2. Robert Griffin III Griffin was so good all day Sunday (19 of 26, 320 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, 42 yards rushing on 10 carries) and so consistent (Skins scored ten points in each quarter), but the thing that may have impressed me the most -- when it was late in the game and the Redskins needed to grind clock and get first downs, they didn't just concede the running game in an attempt to run the clock. They put the ball in Griffin's hands and had him make plays, the biggest one being a 22-yard strike to Logan Paulsen to salt the game away late. I couldn't be more impressed by a rookie than I am by Griffin.
1. J.J. Watt After three batted-down passes, a couple sacks and a shitload of hell, fire and brimstone, can someone from the Texans' creative department find a way to incorporate this chant into the Jumbotron rotation?
LOSERS 4. My blood pressure when the Texans return kicks Buried amidst the three returns for touchdowns against a bunch of "Players 54 through 90" during the preseason was this little issue for Trindon Holliday -- he's terrible at catching a football.
I don't know if it's small hands, a lack of hand/eye coordination or the nerve-wracking frenzy of people twice his size running toward him in full sprint, but Trindon Holliday catches the ball cleanly at a rate that would make a junior high football coach angry. It happened again on Sunday -- a routine catch of a kickoff into the end zone turned into a double-fumble clusterfuck.
Thankfully, it wound up with the Texans starting at their own five-yard line. It could have been much worse. Some game soon it will be. And those touchdowns from the preseason will feel like fool's gold. I'm rooting for Trindon Holliday, and I hope I'm wrong, but the Holliday Experience is still far too circus-like for my tastes. 3. Rookie quarterbacks and first-time starters not named RG3 Andrew Luck was 23 of 45 with three interceptions in a 41-21 loss to the Bears. Ryan Tannehill was 20 of 36 with three picks (and several balls bounced off various body parts of J.J. Watt) in a 30-10 loss to the Texans. Jake Locker skippered a 21-point loss to the Patriots at home. And then there was the Rembrandt of putrid, dogshit performances....
2. Brandon Weeden (when people get near him) Conjecture before the draft was that Brandon Weeden's age would be the main detractor for teams looking to find reasons not to draft him. (He's 28 years old after getting a late start on football after a brief minor league baseball career.) As it turns out, they should have just turned on tape of the Iowa State game last season.
In Oklahoma State's sole loss of 2011, Weeden was chased and pressured all night long for one of the only times in his career, prompting one of the announcers on the telecast to say that throwing really becomes a problem for Brandon Weeden if "people get near him and he has to move." You'd think THAT might scare NFL teams off, but it didn't scare Cleveland.
Well, as it turns out, quarterbacks in the NFL wind up having to throw quite often with other human beings near them, and unfortunately for the Browns, Weeden's reaction to pressure in the pocket makes Raymond Babbitt's reaction to air travel look rational and composed by comparison. Weeden's four picks were the difference in a 17-16 loss to the Eagles.
1. Buffalonians Buffalo Bills fan, I don't know if you could hear it, nestled all the way up there in upstate New York, but when you were touting yourselves as being relevant once again because of your signing Mario Williams, we in Houston were all laughing at you.
National pundits, those of you who picked the Bills as your "dark horse, sneaky, sleeperific sleeper team" because the Bills defense would improve with Williams's "transcendent pass rushing skills" (I'm paraphrasing your words, pundits), we laughed at you, too. Guffawed, even snorted a little bit.
Because Mario Williams has never, ever, ever made a play that mattered in a game that mattered. Your season is now 60 minutes old, Bills fan -- a 48-28 loss to the New York Jets, a Jets team that couldn't score a touchdown in the preseason if you set up cones as the eleven defenders. Mario Williams had one tackle. ONE TACKLE.
You signed him to a six-year, $96 million deal, Buffalo. That is one expensive tackle.
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.
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