Training camp opens for the Houston Texans on Friday. And as hard as it is to believe, the Houston Chronicle is high on the team's chances to make the playoffs.
NFL "expert" John McClain says the Texans will be a contender for a wild card spot. As McClain writes, the Texans, and head coach Gary Kubiak, are focused on making the playoffs in this, the franchise's ninth year of existence.
I guess this means the team hasn't been focused on accomplishing this the previous eight seasons.
The problem is, this is essentially the same thing McClain and the Chron propaganda writers wrote about the Texans last season.
Remember those stories about how it's finally time, and that if the Texans don't make the playoffs, then Kubiak should be replaced as coach? And remember how after the Texans got off to an awful start, the argument changed to one that said those expecting the team to make the playoffs last time were hoping for too much, and that those calling for Kubiak to be replaced were just a bunch of people who didn't understand football?
My favorite moment came when Richard Justice justified Kubiak's continued employment because he had the same, or better, record at 60 games coached as Jeff Fisher, Jimmy Johnson, and Bill Belichick while failing to point out that at the point in their career, Johnson had already made the playoffs once and were about to win the Super Bowl while Belichick's Browns were on the way to the playoffs and Fisher was coaching a team without a true home.
But this year is going to be different than last season. Never mind that the Texans played a soft schedule last season. Never mind that the Texans had to go on another of those December winning streaks where the games didn't matter to get a winning record. Never mind that there's still no evidence that the Texans are going to have a running game this season.
Or that Mario Williams is going to show up. Or that Matt Schaub will find a way to stay healthy once again. Or that Steve Slaton will remember how to hang on to the football. Or that Owen Daniels will come back completely healthy. Or that Texans are suddenly going to start playing complete football games.
This year is going to be different.
Maybe it will be different. Sure, defensive rookie of the year Brian Cushing is missing the first four games of the season because of a pesky little PED problem. Sure, they're opening the season against the Colts, facing the Redskins and Cowboys in games two and three, have to go to Oakland, where they always lay an egg, in week four, then get to face the Giants. Sure, the Texans are tied with the Titans for the season's toughest schedule.
None of that matters because the players work hard and have great character.
Hopefully, character and hard work will help to make up for a young secondary. Or for a defense that will be missing its best player. Maybe Williams will learn about hard work and the opposing team will have to use more than just one blocker on him. Maybe Kubiak will figure out some way to have his team prepared to start the game, and maybe the Texans will actually decide to go with a kicker who can make a kick when it counts.
Then again, that's probably why I'm so negative about the Texans this season. McClain and the Chron see all the ifs, ands, buts and maybes and see playoffs. I see all of these ifs, ands, buts and maybes and see the team failing again because there's nothing that I've seen since Kubiak has been here that shows he's figured out how to make all of the ifs, ands, buts and maybes work in favor of the Texans instead of against them.
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I see the Texans missing their best defensive player to start the season, when they're playing some of the toughest teams on the schedule. I see a team that constantly makes stupid mistakes or appears to be unprepared.
The Chron sees playoffs. I see failure. Maybe I'll be wrong, but history points to the Chron bringing wrong.
Despite it all, of this I'm sure. If November comes around and the Texans are once again falling out of the playoff race, expect McClain, Justice, and the rest of the remaining writers at the Chron to once again start excusing Kubiak and his failures. And the excuse is foreseeable: knowing all of the question marks coming into the season, and knowing how tough the schedule was going to be, those expecting the Texans to compete for a playoff spot were expecting way too much.
And no matter what, it won't be Gary Kubiak's fault. A coach can only do so much, after all.