There's never a bad day or night to be the host of the Houston Texans' postgame show on the radio. There are some nights that are better than others, but even after blowout losses, even in the preseason, I'm still getting paid to talk about football on the radio. I'm very lucky. That being said, this past Saturday night was one of those nights that tested my patience.
In the first eight minutes of the Texans' 34-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the following events occurred:
* The Texans officially ran two plays from scrimmage with Deshaun Watson in the game — a Lamar Miller run that was immediately stuffed, and a strip sack and fumble turnover by Watson.
* Lamar Miller suffered a torn ACL on that one running play. His Texans career is probably over.
* Left guard Zach Fulton suffered a game ending turf toe injury on the sack of Watson.
* The Texans actually ran one other play with Watson in the game, a play in which he was sacked, of course, but a defensive holding penalty negated the play.
* The Cowboys scored two touchdowns, including one on a blocked punt in which the Cowboys weren't even in "block mode;" it was just a massive screw up by the Texans on special teams (which were atrocious throughout the evening).
* On the ensuing kickoff after the blocked punt, Karan Higdon committed a 15 yard penalty for an illegal block.
* Along the way, the offensive line picked up two holding penalties — one on left
sieve tackle and the other on their vastly overrated center, Nick Martin.
This was all in the FIRST EIGHT MINUTES OF THE DAMN GAME. With rare exception — J.J. Watt, a battle red nation turns its lonely eyes to you! Woo, woo woo! — the Texans were unprepared, unmotivated and looked like they wanted to be anywhere other than playing a football game against their hated rivals to the north. It was embarrassing.
So, postgame cohost Clint Stoerner and I (along with Seth Payne, hanging out with us, as well) were sifting through the rubble at halftime to find good angles, when — BAM! — Adam Schefter tweets this:
Filed to ESPN: Andrew Luck has informed the Colts he is retiring from the NFL, per source. There will be a press conference Sunday to make it official, but Luck is mentally worn down, and now checking out.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 25, 2019
This was one of those tweets that Clint, Seth and I waited a good ten minutes to react to on social media, because the news was so outlandish that it felt like Schefter's Twitter account had been hacked. A 29 year old franchise QB in his prime hanging it up; that is bonkers. And it's completely opened things up in the AFC South, where it's anybody's division, and the Texans (Saturday's debacle notwithstanding) are now the favorites to win the division.
Let's do some winners and losers....
4. J.J. Watt
To me, there is only one positive to draw from the loss to the Cowboys — J.J. Watt got on the field for a couple series, had two tackles (including a TFL), and generally looked like the vintage version of Watt that he's been throughout training camp. I have no idea how ready the rest of this Texans team is to compete in 2019, but Watt is going to have a monster season if he stays healthy all year. He looks phenomenal.
Ok, the rest of the "Winners" portion of the post is going to be Luck-related...
3. The AFC South
In the four team AFC South, there was only one player whose availability for the 2019 season was going to affect the complexion of the entire division. It's not Deshaun Watson, nor Watt. (Yeah, if Watson goes down, the Texans' season goes in the toilet, but the Colts would remain favorites to win the division.) Certainly, nobody on the Titans or Jags. It's Andrew Luck. With Luck retiring, the Texans move to the top of the odds board to win the division, the Jags and the Titans are all of a sudden feeling like they can win this thing, too, and the Colts are presumably reeling, although it sounds like the upper management in Indy may have anticipated this decision coming, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. For what it's worth, the Colts' Super Bowl odds plummeted from 12/1 to 50/1 on the Luck news.
2. Andrew Luck
As surprising as the decision was by Luck, our surprise largely stems from the fact that you just don't ever see this type of thing happen. Most players hang onto their careers for dear life because they'll never find another seven figure paycheck ever. However, Andrew Luck is different. He is a Stanford graduate who's already made more than $100 million before the age of 30. He has options. He's also been in tremendous pain, with injuries suffered all over his anatomy — shoulder, ankle, kidneys, ribs, concussions — from head to toe. Andrew Luck walks away from the game relatively healthy, rich beyond his wildest imagination, and with a Stanford degree. Hell, isn't that the goal of about half the Stanford student body, to walk away from their first gig with $100 million at age 30? Andrew Luck, you did it; good for you.
1. Jacoby Brissett
So now here comes Jacoby Brissett, who Texans fans may think of as the next Steve Young because he is 3-0 against their team since 2016, but the truth of the matter is that Jacoby Brissett only has five wins as a starter in his NFL career (5-12 overall, and again, THREE of those five wins are versus the Texans). Brissett is thought to be one of the top backup QB's in football, and the roster he has around him is significantly improved over the one that he skippered to a 4-12 record in 2017. For Brissett, personally, this is a shot at proving he can be a viable starting quarterback, and he can score a MONSTER payday. He couldn't be set up any better, and if it's ever going to happen, now is the time.
4. Colts fans
For all you worms in Indy, with your Peyton Manning jerseys tucked into your dad jeans, booing Andrew Luck as he was leaving the field on Saturday, just answer me this — what's it like to have your entire emotional well being completely steered by the results of football games, and by the decisions of other adults to do what's best for them? That sounds like a psychological jail cell.
I don't emphatically judge people on much of anything that they do, as long as it's within the confines of the law, and certainly booing Andrew Luck is safe under your First Amendment privilege. That said, if you were one of the ones booing Andrew Luck, you're a loser. Sorry. That's not up for debate. YOU ARE A LOSER. (I am putting my left hand against my forehead with my index finger and thumb in the shape of a letter L.)
3. Chris Ballard
Ballard had a chance at many different GM jobs before he took the Colts job prior to the 2017 season. Presumably, Ballard is like many highly sought after GM candidates, and he was waiting for a chance to build a roster around a franchise quarterback. Even dealing with injuries, Luck is about as good as a new GM could expect to inherit and, to be sure, Ballard has done an awesome job of building the Colts into a complete football team. He is the complete opposite of the empty suit that preceded him, Ryan Grigson. Now, though, Ballard will really be put to the test. Not only does he have to find the next franchise QB for the Colts, but he has built a virtually tank proof roster. The Colts are too good to fail to, say, 3-13, where they'd be in line to draft a future franchise QB. More likely, they will be subjected to game managers mucking their way to 8-8 or 9-7 the next few years, while the Texans will rely on Deshaun Watson to cover all of their warts. Basically, the Colts are now the 2015 Houston Texans, and the Texans are the 2015 Indianapolis Colts.
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Ok, now back to the Texans....
2. Mike Devlin
Speaking of the offensive line — despite the fact that they drafted two players in the first couple rounds of the 2019 draft, despite another year of whatever-is-supposed-to-be-happening with another year in this system, the offensive line looks like just as big a disaster as it did last season, and the season before that. This group is going nowhere. Their announced starting left tackle, Matt Kalil, hasn't been spotted at practice for nearly two weeks (he may have left the state; who knows). Their center, Nick Martin, is described by Bill O'Brien like he's Chris Myers, and he is barely Oscar Mayer (Boom. Roasted, Martin.). Above all else, the offensive line coach, Mike Devlin, is in his fifth season with the Texans, and there has been nothing (like literally ZERO THINGS) that has occurred with this position group that says they're even being coached at all, let alone well coached. They're a mess. And.....
1. Lamar Miller
.....they finally got Lamar Miller killed, as Julien Davenport (who, for some reason, was out there with important players on the field on Saturday) lost his man, and said man turned Miller's leg into a Slim Jim. So now the Texans are looking at a backfield depth chart where Duke Johnson (and the three or four practices he's been a part of as a Texan, no game yet) is the listed starter, and the guys behind him are two undrafted rookies (Karan Higdon, Damarea Crockett) and two special teams guys with no career carries (Buddy Howell) and 44 career carries (in eight seasons, Taiwan Jones). The kill list for the Texans' left tackle position is underway. Let's hope Deshaun Watson is able to avoid being murdered.