Raiders 28, Texans 23: What the Schaub?
Far from the only on-the-field spectacle Sunday.
Photos by Groovehouse
About 20 minutes after the Texans game ended, a good friend of mine left a message on my voice mail explaining how angry she was at the team. If you listen to call-in shows or watch Twitter or listen to fans in the stadium, you would see she is not alone.
In what will undoubtedly be one of the most surreal decisions in franchise history, Gary Kubiak inexplicably brought Matt Schaub off the bench in the third quarter to replace Case Keenum. The almost-rookie QB had not been particularly effective, but at 2-7, one of the few concerns that remain for the team is whether or not Keenum is the franchise QB going forward. It is likely he is not, but there is no question Schaub certainly isn't, yet there he was side-arming passes, making checkdowns and avoiding the fetal position by throwing the ball at the feet of running backs when under pressure.
Then, when the game was finally over and Schaub had come oh-so-close to throwing an interception in the end zone on fourth down, Andre Johnson erupted on the sideline at Schaub and stormed off the field. About 70,000 fans at Reliant joined him as Houston pro football fans witnessed the greatest drama on the field since Buddy Ryan punched Kevin Gilbride.
With the season rapidly spiraling down the tubes, the scene at Reliant only gets weirder and fans are left scratching their heads once again.
What went right: Keshawn Martin For the first time in his career -- and the first time in a very long time Joe Marciano had reason to think he might not lose his job (he will) -- Martin ran back a punt for a touchdown. Sure, it had to bounce up and smack him in the face mask first, but whatever. In this season of ridiculousness, anything that works is fine. Martin also made a few plays at wide receiver as well.
What went wrong: Offensive Line For the second straight week, the pass protection was abysmal, the run blocking was God awful and there were numerous stupid penalties on the O-line. Despite the fact that they have two guys (center and left tackle) who are arguably two of the best at their positions, this is a line that is routinely manhandled and bested at every turn.
Runner-up: Pretty much everything else was a disaster, but the defensive secondary, decimated by injuries, looks like a circus out there, and certainly not Cirque du Soleil.
What must improve: Management For all the boneheaded decisions, the conservative play calls and the poor clock management, I always thought Gary Kubiak was, at the very least, a guy who understood the big picture. Sure, he might not get it right all the time, but he was smart enough to see the writing on the wall. Clearly, he does not. When he brought Matt Schaub into the game, I honestly couldn't believe it. I still can't, and Schaub will probably start next week.
What should stay the same: Andre Johnson No one wants to see a guy openly defy his teammates and walk off the field when the game is still going on, but not a single Texans fan could blame Johnson for how he reacted in the waning moments of Sunday's game. No one has suffered the way Johnson has, and he has clearly reached his breaking point.
Take a good look. It might be your last.
What did we learn from the game? If nothing else, we learned the coaching staff is clueless about what works for this team and what the future holds. When Gary Kubiak and most -- if not all -- of his staff are finally and mercifully fired at the end of the year, it wouldn't surprise me if it caught them totally off guard. They are so entrenched in their mind-set, it wouldn't surprise me if they showed up to work the day after getting their pink slips thinking it was all a joke.
What do we never want to see/hear again? I never want to see Schaub in a Texans uniform at quarterback, but my guess is it happens next week.
Key Moment of the Game After all the frustration finally got to them, Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub boiled over on the sidelines. Schaub blamed Johnson for cutting off his route leading to a fourth down play that didn't materialize in the end zone. Johnson, though he admitted he made a mistake, blew up at Schaub and stormed off the field. Like most of the fans inside and outside of Reliant, Johnson had seen enough.
Game Balls: Nobody This team, a team that many picked to go deep into the playoffs or even make the Super Bowl, is 2-8, and on their way to a high draft pick. At this point, no one deserves accolades. There are problems all over the field. Everyone is to blame.
Goat of the Week: Gary Kubiak Little does Kubes know, but all the boos that rained down from the rafters at Reliant when Schaub entered the game were for him. Fans do hate Schaub, but that is not entirely on the QB. Much of it is the fault of a coaching staff that clearly is ill-prepared to work in the NFL. Schaub is just the scapegoat.
Random thought of the week: I think the question everyone has is will Bob McNair have the guts to clean house? If he does, who will survive? It seems clear that Kubiak and most of his staff will get swept out in the offseason, but will Wade Phillips remain? Will Rick Smith keep his job? It's tough to say at this point, but if Kubiak survives this disaster of a season, it will only be because Grandpa Bob was being a nice guy.
Next Up: home for the Jacksonville Jaguars One of the few teams in the league that is worse (record-wise) than the Texans somehow seems less bad off than the team that plays at Reliant. Jacksonville is an absolutely awful team, but would anyone be surprised if they beat the Texans next week?
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