It hasn't been easy being a fan of the Houston Texans, and last season was the worst of all. Now the team is promising a new start, with a new coach, a new dedication to actually doing something on offense, and a new chance to stop sucking.
We hope it all works out. If it doesn't, then hey -- it can't be any worse than 2005. (We're still trying to erase that St. Louis game from our heads.)
Until the losses start piling up, enjoy the Houston Press Pigskin Preview 2006.
The Texans have made a lot of bad decisions in the short space of five years. There was the decision to use their first expansion-draft pick on Tony Boselli, apparently in the belief that Houston's fresh air would rejuvenate his horribly injured shoulder. (It didn't.)
There was the decision to keep the roof open last year against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in an attempt to get those black-shirted Northerners to melt. (The fans melted; the Steelers romped.)
And then there was the decision to make Charley Casserly the GM. Casserly, of course, left the team this year, but not before drafting Mario Williams instead of Vince Young or Reggie Bush.
And that doesn't even make the list of Top Five Worst Charley Casserly Decisions, as put together by KILT-AM's Lance Zierlein, an expert on football of both the real and fantasy kind.
5. 2003: Taking RB Tony Hollings in the second round of the supplemental draft. Hollings had played four college games at RB before injuring his knee. The Texans needed a back (see next item on the list), so they rolled the dice. Snake eyes.
4. 2002: Drafting Jabar Gaffney ahead of Clinton Portis. The writing was on the wall -- Florida RBs are products of the system. Charley ignored the obvious and passed on the future All-Pro Portis.
3. 2004: Texans gave up second-, third- and fourth-round picks for Jason Babin, who has yet to make his mark. The core of any team is built with solid drafting in those rounds.
2. 2005: They traded second- and third-round picks for DB Phillip Buchanon (whose most famous play is his matador-like ol tackle against Pittsburgh). One NFL team told me the Raiders confided that they were "hoping" to get a third-rounder for Buchanon. What a treat to get a second-round pick, too!
1. 2004: Casserly signed tackle Todd Wade to a six-year, $30 million contract. Wade played two years and was cut. I'm not sure which was worse, the money they paid or the beating David Carr had to take last year because of the shoddy protection by Wade.
Christ, that's some list. Casserly has somehow yet to be hired by any other team, but a little bit of him will always be a Texan. Unfortunately.
The Future, Foretold
The NFL season drags on for a long time (especially if you're a Texans fan). But there's no need to wait until December to learn how the new, improved hometown favorites will do.
Thanks to the magic of Madden '07 and the nimble fingers of the Houston Press's Steven Devadanam, we know all that will happen, both in real life and in alternative universes, where the Texans don't bypass great players in the draft.
Devadanam simmed a season (and manually played some games) with David Carr at QB, but he also did the same for seasons where either Vince Young or Reggie Bush was on the team.
The good news, for those still kvetching about the team's passing on Young and Bush: It doesn't make a pube hair's worth of difference in the final records. The bad news: The final records stink.
The Texans finish 6-10 with Carr at the helm. A desperate Devadanam gave red dreadlocks to Carr in an effort to right the ship after an 0-4 beginning, and -- in what can only be taken as prima facie evidence that computer programmers sometimes get high -- the team responded by beating the Dallas Cowboys 37-34. Further evidence of drug use is provided by the fact that when Carr got hurt, Sage Rosenfels led the Texans over the New England Patriots. In December. In New England.
For what it's worth, Mario Williams ended up with eight sacks on the year, which is a mere 46 percent fewer than what Jevon Kearse got in his rookie year.
But you want to know about Young and Bush, right? Young's first 11 games result in a 5-6 record that would have had every Longhorn blowhard in the state waiting 95 minutes on hold to be the 59th person that week to say "I told you so" to the talk-radio world.
And then he'd play the Jets. And after two interceptions (bringing his total to 15 in 11 games), Devadanam wisely decided to use those famous scrambling legs. A naked bootleg sees Young sprinting toward the goal line, but somehow he's caught by CB Andre Dyson (a feat so unlikely that obviously Madden is programmed by still-bummed USC fans)...and he doesn't get up. A broken fibula ends his year, with final stats of 12 passing TDs, eight rushing TDs and a 61.6 QB rating. (A 61.6 rating in 2005 would have put Young in 34th place in the NFL, between QB legends J.P. Losman of the Bills and Kyle Orton of the Bears.)
If Madden is to be trusted at all as a predictive device -- and in terms of technology, it is light-years ahead of a Magic 8-Ball -- then it's obvious the Texans should have drafted Reggie Bush.
That's Reggie Bush, 2006 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, he of the 1,766 yards rushing (just one big run away from setting an all-time rookie record) and the 404 yards receiving. With Bush, the Texans top the Cowboys in OT and beat the Colts twice (with Reggie getting 316 yards in one game). We assume Bush also walked on water at some point, but the Madden game didn't show it.
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Even with Bush, though, the Texans end up 7-9. So settle in, Texans fans. It's gonna be a long year.
Yet Another New Beginning
For the first time in the recorded history of mankind's dominance on this planet, the Houston Texans will be taking the field without being under the benevolent yet inspirationally challenged leadership of Dom Capers. Instead they will be coached by Houstonian Gary Kubiak, who went to St. Pius X High (Pius was sporting the "X" long before Malcolm). There's going to be a lot of changes for fans to deal with. Click here to see the Capers-Kubiak face-off.
Click here to view the Lil' Texans Fun Pages!