Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Only One Pig Will Need to Fly: Houston Texans

And I'm back, after watching the Crushed Dad perform admirably as Max in "The Sound of Music" and Mayor Shinn in "Music Man". He didn't look half as dead as I expected, being a grown man juggling a full-time job with being in THREE shows, and even had the energy to do a pretty neat imitation of a goat dancing, an image that will now be burned forever in my mind. Well done, Dad!

Now that I am back, it is time to begin the moving process, as my wife and I bought our first place last month, closed last Monday, and now have till the end of the month to get the heck out of our apartment and into our brand new condo. A pretty exciting time to be a first-time homebuyer, but it does mean that I will actually have work to do, especially with the school year beginning next week as well.

What that means is that Gavin will continue to be the life-blood of this blog for a little while longer, though I hope that the addition of one Nate Acheson (who I saw this past week with his beautiful new bride) takes away some of the pressure on the fatter Hesse.

The team that Gavin and I are unveiling today should be no big surprise, as they lucked themselves into the #1 draft pick and then incomprehensibly passed on Reggie Bush, instead taking the "safe" route with DE Mario Williams. Yes, we are talking about the Houston Texans.

Houston Texans
2005 Record: 2-14
Neat-o Additions: Gary Kubiak, Eric Moulds, Mario Williams, Mike Flanagan, Sam Cowert, Mike Sherman
See You Later: Don Capers, Charlie Casserly

Gavin and I have tried to, in each one of our previews, highlight a couple of glaring statistics that can inform you why the team struggled the previous year and why we believe they will continue to struggle this year. Out of any of the teams we have highlighted so far, THIS team is the first, and perhaps only, that I consider that exercise irrelevant.

Consider. The 2005 Texans were supposed to contend for a playoff spot. They had an improving quarterback, a decent running back, a potential superstar wide receiver, and a defensive-minded coach who was considered a whiz at constructing competent defenses, even with less-than-adequate personnel. Instead, the Texans fell completely apart. I remember watching the Sunday Night game against Seattle with amazement, then interest, then, finally, acceptance about both the upper-tier status of the Seahawks and the single fact that the Texans, and Don Capers, were done. Never since Dave Wannstedt had I seen a coach look that lost on the sidelines. His wide-open mouth and eyes made him appear to be completely out of the game and totally without power over his team. He made no adjustments, the offensive gameplan was hopelessly simplistic, and the talent on his side of the field was absent.

I'm not generally a man who calls for a head coach's head (the only Seahawks head coach who I truly hated was "draw on 3rd and fifteen" Tom Flores), but I knew at that point that the Texans needed to fire Capers, and that the firing would make a huge difference on the obvious potential of this team.

Look. Every statistic I could give you would point to the fact that the 2005 Texans sucked. They did. The offense, especially the offensive line, sucked. The defense sucked. The special teams sucked. The coaching sucked.

However, in reference to THIS SEASON, the Texans did something that, perhaps, was the most underappreciated move of the offseason.

They hired Gary Kubiak as their head coach.

Fans of the Miami Dolphins and the Cleveland Browns can attest to the fact that a new head coach can begin to turn a team in the right direction. Why do I believe that Gary Kubiak is the single best new head coach in the NFL?

-- Look at the guy's resume. His offensive lines continually dominate. Ditto his running game. He made Jake Plummer into an effective quarterback. He utilizes his talent well, like Rod Smith, Jeb Putzier, and Ed McCaffrey. He wasn't even afraid to give Ron Dayne a big carry or two, like on Thanksgiving Day of last year. This wasn't all Mike Shanahan, people, in the same way that Gil Haskell doesn't get enough credit for the Hawks strong offense.

-- He knows his personnel. Remember Ruben Droughns?

-- He makes adjustments. Quentin Griffin started off the 2005 season as the starting running back. He sucked. Kubiak saw that and immediately didn't hesitate to exchange him out.

Again, this is some very unscientific analysis here, but I just feel like Gary Kubiak is worth a few more wins all by himself. I was even more impressed by his first decision as head coach, that of keeping David Carr as the starting quarterback. Carr has done nothing to dissuade me that there is a competent NFL quarterback waiting to jump out if he just has a decent offensive line in front of him. If there is one thing Gary Kubiak has built effectively, it is a decent offensive line. Center Mike Flanagan, a veteran who followed Mike Sherman from the Packers, is a stupendous pickup who should immediately become the leader of the beleaguered line. That should ALSO allow more time for the other potential stars in this offense, Domanick Davis and Andre Johnson, who are on the brink of greatness, with Davis being the main reason that the Texans passed on Bush in the draft (along with financial considerations).

The Texans actually remind me a great deal of the Arizona Cardinals, a team that I will write about shortly. They have excellent skill at the "skill" positions, but are held back by a horrific offensive line. Well, that should begin to change this season, and THAT, in turn, will vault them into playoff contention by 2007, though Gavin and I believe that Garty Kubiak, along with the influx of talent, gives the Texans at least a small shot this year. Remember, this is a better team then the one most pundits predicted to make the postseason a year ago.

I should, at the very least, mention that the defense stands to improve as well. Mario Williams is a great talent, and a pass-rushing end is hard to find. Sam Cowart, though no longer a top-tier linebacker, should finally salve the loss of Jamie Sharper. There is no way that Patrick Buchanan could play any worse this season. This will be a weak link, and the most probably cause of stalling a postseason run, but I actually wait with anticipation to see what Kubiak can do with a defense as well as an offense.

The 2005 Texans were terrible. We all can agree with this. However, this is the most optimistic preview I have done yet, and I believe there is a reason for that. My intuition, and Gary Kubiak.

Gavin tomorrow with actual statistics yet again!

posted by colin_hesse @ 4:17 PM  2 comments


At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Steph said...

Nice preview.

Most non-local blogs get the Texans stuff completely messed up, mostly because 1. they don't care; 2. all they know about the Texans is that they sucked rocks in 2005, 3. their brain shuts down after realizing the Texans passed on Bush.

The key to the Texans horrible 2005 was a complete coaching meltdown, and I think you discussed this nicely. Dom Capers, I think will be a good defensive coordinator, but he made the mistake of meddling around too much with the offense and not messing around enough with the defense.

The only basic thing I would add is that Domanick Davis would do nicely in this offense if he were healthy. They are trying out different backs, and so far at least in the preseason, the experiment is going well.

Also, it is Phillip Buchanon, not Patrick, though it would be interesting seeing Pat Buchanon trying to play CB.


At 11:59 PM, Blogger colin_hesse said...

Thanks. Pat Buchanan WOULD make a kickin' middle fundamentalist linebacker though.


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