In a game that was, to quote my good friend Jim Ross, "bowling shoe ugly," the Texans lost to the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte on Sunday by a score of 24-17. This, unto itself, was not surprising, both the outcome of the Carolina and the Texans' 0-2 start. In fact, this is exactly what I predicted for them.
Now, I also predicted they would finish 8-8 on the season. However, the jumbled shell of an offensive line, the turtle crew of non-Foster running backs, and the situational lack of total competency of the defense (and believe me, this defense meeds to be TOTALLY competent if this team is going to win at all), are pointing more toward 5-11 or 4-12 right now than 8-8.
Then there's the quarterback position…. what did we learn on Sunday? We learned that Ryan Mallett can make a few more plays than Brian Hoyer, far fewer plays than Cam Newton, and that every Ryan Mallett pass will be a sound barrier-searing laser (sometimes pinpoint accurate, sometimes scatter shot as hell) whether the receiver is five yards away or fifty yards away.
4. Any free agent offensive linemen sitting at home
Here's how the day went for the Texans' offensive line — it was confirmed late last week that left tackle Duane Brown would be missing this game. So they inserted newly acquired swing tackle Chris Clark in Brown's spot, which spawned a deluge of tweets from Denver fans (Clark's former team) asking where they could send flowers to Ryan Mallett's family after he dies. They moved left guard Jeff Adams to right tackle, and right tackle Derek Newton to left guard. At different points during the game, Adams went out with what looked like a serious knee injury, and Newton left with some medical issue. So at one point, the offensive line was (left to right) Chris Clark, Greg Mancz, Ben Jones, Brandon Brooks, and Kendall Lamm. I know Wade Smith and Chris Myers are both living in Houston (I do radio with Chris), but they both are like 250 pounds now. Can someone buy them a bottomless Golden Corral gift card and beef them up by Week 6?
3. Greg Olsen
Granted, it took 14 targets, but the Texans gave up another six catch game to the opposing tight end on Sunday. After Travis Kelce's ultra-efficient six catch (on SIX targets), 106 yard, two touchdown game in the opener, Olsen had six catches for 70 yards, good enough to be the leading receiver in the game yesterday. Up next, Tampa Bay's Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who already has a 100 yard game to his credit this season. Fun, fun!
2. Class of 2014 quarterbacks
If Ryan Mallett keeps worm-burning half his throws into the ground, or sailing a few more into the fifth row, or if God forbid, Bill O'Brien turns this QB gig into some sort of yo-yo job between Mallett and Hoyer, fans will correctly look at the performance of the quarterbacks in the draft class of 2014 and ask "Why didn't we take one of those guys?" The Texans had a shot (and arguably two shots, with small trade considerations) at all of these guys — Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr. It's certainly been hit or miss with all those guys, admittedly. However, yesterday they collectively went 4-0. A few more Sundays resembling that (3-1 here, 3-1 there) and this WILL become a topic if the Texans don't straighten things out.
1. Andy Dalton
Honestly, it's hard finding any more winners from yesterday's game, it was that ugly. Even on Carolina, there were very few winners. So I'll give it up for a guy who I criticize incessantly on here, Katy's own Andy Dalton. He's off to a solid start for 2-0 Cincinnati after an offseason in which he was booed at a celebrity softball game in his football hometown. I'm not going to say I'm rooting for Dalton, because as an AFC team, his best interests certainly conflict with the Texans' best interests, but I will give him his due. Having his tight end Tyler Eifert back REALLY helps.
4. Anybody with plans at 3:15 p.m. Central Time yesterday
Make no mistake, both quarterbacks in yesterday's game were abysmal throwing the football. Cam Newton can actually run a little bit (76 yards) and that was the difference, but both quarterbacks were below 50 percent passing the football, and combined for FIFTY incompletions. The first three minutes of game clock in this debacle took 15 actual minutes of our lives to play. The game ended at like 3:40 p.m. If you planned your day around this football game, you were late to everywhere you needed to be after this game by like a half hour.
3. Texans running backs
Arian Foster, where for art thou? Granted, there's very little room for any of these guys to maneuver because of the Swiss cheese offensive line, but the cadre of running backs the Texans have toting the rock are so uninspiring right now, they may as well just concede 2nd and 9 if they plan to run the ball on first down so no more offensive linemen will get hurt trying to open up space for these contact magnets. That would be the pragmatic thing to do. The good news is that at least Bill O'Brien and George Godsey have seemed to figure out that Alfred Blue is just not a very good football player. Five carries, six yards. Welcome to the party, gentlemen.
2. A.J. Bouye
Back in the 80's, there was a wrestler in the WWF named S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones. He was the quintessential "jobber to the stars," which meant that he usually was able to defeat the really, really low level jobronis, but would always lose in dramatic, tragic fashion to the upper tier stars of the era. The funny thing with S.D. Jones is that he would lose the exact same way EVERY time — he would whip his opponent into the corner, build up a head of steam on a bull rush at his prone foe, but at the last minute they would move out of the way, and S.D. would hit the turnbuckle face first, knock himself out, and losing the match sometime in the next eight seconds. Fast forward to about the 4:10 mark of this video….
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It happened that way EVERY SINGLE TIME. Well, A.J. "Always Jobbing" Bouye is basically football's S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones, and the double move by a WR is Bouye's version of his opponent moving out of the way of the bull rush into the corner. A.J. Bouye falls for the double move EVERY TIME. He fell for it again on Sunday from Ted Ginn, Jr. The problem for Bouye is that his fuck ups are not scripted like S.D. Jones'. They're real. They're VERY real.
1. Dallas Cowboys
Let's do a quick "Where Are They Now?" for the Cowboys' 2014 edition of their "triplets" (football speak for QB, top RB, and top WR) — DeMarco Murray is averaging about nine yards a game in Philadelphia, Dez Bryant's foot injury is actually more of a 10-12 week deal than a 4-6 week deal, and Tony Romo now has a broken collarbone. The Cowboys are also 2-0. The Cowboys will be a fascinating case study in the effectiveness of building through the offensive line. No team has invested more in its o-line than Dallas, and they've invested well. Can they win just getting behind those beasts and playing conservative "running game and defense" ball? In a crappy NFC East, maybe.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.