When you're the preseason television flagship for an NFL team, you'd better be on your game because you only get four opportunities to make it count.
And let's face it, these aren't your normal broadcasting opportunities. Most fans are watching preseason games just to see how some of the obscure rookies are performing, to see training camp battles settled, or (in the case of the Texan fans) to play some version of a "Joel Meyers roster faux pas" drinking game.
Yes, this is my way of saying that only ultra-degenerate gamblers care about the final score of these games, so if you're Channel 13, all that's really being asked is that you keep the game on the air.
Friday night, Channel 13 couldn't keep the game on the air.
Repeated frozen screens caused by some sort of uplink malfunction reduced large chunks of the second and third quarter broadcast of the Texans preseason opener against Minnesota to a de facto Joel Meyers radio play-by-play, which when you consider how sideways his television play-by-play gets sometimes, was as chilling as it sounds on paper.
The KTRK telecast of the game was obvious social media red meat thrown into the snarling ring of pit bulls that is Twitter, with Texan fans lining up to take their shots at Channel 13, but it also exposed the local ABC affiliate to pot shots from competitors in the ever escalating war of local news in Houston:
Don't worry Texans fans. These tech issues won't be happening when the season starts and the games are on #KHOU
— Ron Trevino (@khouron) August 10, 2013
I like Ron Trevino, and if you're a heterosexual male, you are completely envious of his gig, but isn't there something funny about a local Houston employee gently bragging about a broadcast that is run by the mother ship? And what if CBS does have technical issues during the regular season? Does that mean it's open season for Dave Ward to talk mad Twitter shit to Ron Trevino? Will we then, in turn, see Dave Ward, Bob Slovak, and David Nuno against Ron Trevino, Matt Musil, and Bob Allen in a six man tag match at Wrestlemania? And speaking of Bob Allen....THIS....
NFL Network to air clean feed of Texans game tomorrow at 11..using the Vikings feed
— Bob Allen (@BobAllenKHOU) August 10, 2013
Twitter seemed to be in lockstep that Bob's tweet was a) acceptable and b) awesome. Clearly, Bob Allen is operating with Twitter immunity (Twimmunity?), a true O.G.
Ok, so on that note we start the winners and losers for week one of the "games that don't count" with.... * WINNERS
4. Browns fans watching on television The best part, without a doubt, about preseason football league wide is the randomness of the local television announcers selected for the broadcasts. There are some big names cashing some extra funny money for a few weeks, there are some guys stretching their legs in a role different than their primary gig (Spencer Tillman on the Texans broadcast, for one), and there are former players who are trying to break into the business.
And there's Bernie Kosar.
On the Rams-Browns game Thursday night, Browns analyst and former quarterback Kosar was pretty pointed in his criticism of the Rams wide receivers (fast forward to 2:00 and 4:15) and Rams backup quarterback Kellen Clemens (pretty much the 5:00 mark on):
The Browns have since apologized and said that they've addressed the "unprofessionalism" with Bernie and it won't happen again, which means that I'm really hoping this happens again. Honestly, Bernie is pretty much saying the things we'd all say if we were watching that game with our buddies. (Of course, if you're watching Rams-Browns preseason with your buddies, you probably need new friends.)
3. Cierre Wood It's a three way battle for the annual "undrafted running back spot in Gary Kubiak's heart," and if Friday is any indication, this one is going to go down to the wire. Dennis Johnson has been the leader in the clubhouse throughout camp, but Friday Wood made a big statement, rushing for a team leading 59 yards on 10 carries. Of course, it was against defensive players who will all be playing in Arena League 2 next season (Does that still exist?), but what the hell. For his part, Wood looked like a real sound fit in the Texans' scheme style-wise.
2. DeAndre Hopkins The world finally got to see what Texan fans, media, and teammates have been seeing all of training camp and that is this: if there is a football anywhere within a five-foot air radius of Hopkins, it will be drawn in by the seeming gravitational pull of his XXXL mitts. Hopkins touchdown catch in the second quarter was the exact reason the Texans drafted him. Nuk has a chance to be special. It's funny, Texan fans (myself included) were angry that the Texans passed on Reuben Randle in last year's draft to select DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin later. Randle was solid for the Giants as a rookie, but if the Texans had taken him and he'd been solid, they probably would have passed on Hopkins this past draft. I get a feeling Hopkins has a chance to be a real difference maker, especially in the red zone. Not that the Texans drew it up this way, but there may have been a "greater good" to passing on Randle last season, and that's that it was still necessary to draft the higher ceiling of Hopkins this season. (Yes, I extrapolated all of that from two weeks of training camp and one catch in a preseason game from Hopkins. Horse, that thing in front of you is called a cart.)
1. Case Keenum For his part, Keenum looked really good on Friday night. Again, all praise must be tempered by the fact that he was playing against a bunch of extras from The Longest Yard. But he was 13 for 18 (with three passes dropped), and maybe the most encouraging thing was a play he made where he escaped pressure, rolled to his left, and threw a dart to LeStar Jean (that he caught!). If you're looking for plays Case can make that Schaub can't, that's one. All of this said, I'm bracing myself for just how crazy the Case Keenum calls to my radio show will be today. Make no mistake, T.J. Yates will have to be horrible for Keenum to win the backup job. And Yates, while erratic at first, was far from horrible.
4. Trevardo Williams If you've been to training camp and watched one on one drills, then you know that camp so far has been a real struggle for the rookie fourth round pick out of Connecticut. At a position where you'd hope the Texans could turn him loose and let him be athletic and instinctual, Williams has looked overmatched physically and out of it mentally at times, and Friday was more of that. There are snaps available at outside linebacker (not sure if you've heard). Williams' not finding his way into the rotation would be a mild disappointment for this team.
3. Keshawn Martin In looking back at the full season plus two weeks and one preseason game that make up Martin's Texans career, I don't think it's a reach to say he looked most effective and impressive in the first two weeks of training camp his rookie year. He was drawing raves. Those raves never materialized into anything during the regular season, and now he's started off his second preseason by missing on three catchable balls in the Vikings game. Like outside linebacker, there are snaps available at wide receiver, too. LOTS of them. I still think either Martin or Posey needs to become a 35-40 catch guy for this offense to operate at FULL potential.
2. Spirit Airlines I'm just putting this one here because it's therapeutic for me to vent about the fact that these people charged me $10 per boarding pass to print copies of my sons' boarding passes to fly back to Chicago on Sunday morning. What airline charges ten bucks per push for some counter donkey to press the PRINT button? The only silver lining in all of this was this text that I got from my son after he boarded the plane:
"If theres an emergency do we have to pay for the emergency exits to open too?"
Out of the mouths of babes....
1. Blaine Gabbert: Real American Honestly, whether it's the preseason or the regular season, I could put Gabbert here every week. On the field this week, he kicked off his third season by going 5-10 for 19 yards and an interception against the Dolphins. That's the bad news. The good news is that some people decided to make a Gabbert highlight video with a knock off of Hulk Hogan's ring entrance music as the backdrop:
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My question -- how did they find enough Gabbert highlights to squeeze out a nearly four minute video? Some of that has to be CGI, right?
The internet, ladies and gentlemen.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.