Posted on: November 2, 2008 4:20 pm

Texan Generosity Costly

The Houston Texans fell back to Earth today, falling to the Minnesota Vikings 28-21, as once again, the dreaded turnover reared its ugly head. The Texans tossed two redzone interceptions and lost a fumble on the Vikings side of the ball, effectively blowing three scoring chances in a game they lost by one touchdown.

Except for an early interception the Texans took to the house, the game came down to the Vikings doing the little things better: protecting the football, protecting their quarterback, not committing killer simplistic penalties. On the other hand, the Texans lost the turnover battle 3-3, committed a pair of false start penalties in the second half, and ended their last possession of the game by taking back to back sacks on third and fourth down.

The Texans are still not mentally ready to move to the next level yet. The talent is there but now they have to start thinking they can play like champions. After all, according to John Madden, 90% of the game is half mental.

Andre Johnson's streaks ended as he had just 4 receptions for 62 yards, although he did catch a late TD pass. Owen Daniels was in double digits in receptions and topped 100 yards as the Texans did show they can spread the ball around. Daniels was really key on the Texans' first two possessions in the second half.

Matt Schaub left the game at halftime with a knee injury. Sage Rosenfels came in and played very well in the third quarter, but threw an interception in the end zone with the Texans trailing 21-14. That turnover was a key play as the momentum shifted to the Vikings again after that.

Gary Kubiak needs to decide on who will be the left tackle. The Texans were hurt by two false start penalties, one on Ephraim Salaam and one on Duane Brown and that might have been contributed to they platooning of these two players causing them an inability to get into the flow and speed of the game.

The Texans fell to 3-5 on the season and now need a 6-2 second half to finish with a winning record for the first time in their history. They also fell to 0-4 on the road this season, showing yet another weakness keeping them from moving up to that next level. 

Category: NFL
Tags: Texans, Vikings
Posted on: November 1, 2008 11:26 am
Edited on: November 1, 2008 11:27 am

The Sixth Day: A Look At Tomorrow's Game

The Texans' offense will be heading into Minnesota tomorrow with three key components hobbling just a little bit. WR Andre Davis is out with an injured finger, HB Ahman Green is listed as questionable with a thigh injury and WR Kevin Walter is listed as probable with a knee injury. Texans' Head Coach Gary Kubiak on the injury situation: “Ahman did practice today (Friday). I have to go back and evaluate how he practiced. Most of his work was with the scout team, but he did practice throughout the practice. He’s going to be a game time decision....No, I can’t tell. I’ll talk to him and see what I thought about his work today. We’re probably looking at a workout Sunday morning before the game to see if we think he can help us, but the other kids are ready to go. They’ve got all the work. (RB Ryan) Moats has got all the work. (RB) Cecil’s (Sapp) got a little bit. So, they’re ready to go...Well, we need everybody. But if he says he can’t go and he’s not close to 100 percent, then we have to give those other guys a chance. That’s just part of it. But we could definitely use him if he was healthy....There will probably be a game-time decision on how many guys we suit up. Other than that we’re OK. Kevin is back to full speed, so Ahman should be the only question going into Sunday morning.””

With Walter going, that will help take the pressure off of Andre Johnson. Especially with Davis out. One of the big helps to the Texans' offense has been Schaub's ability to use all of his receivers so that, when defenses focus on taking Andre away, Schaub has been able to find second and third targets, especially in the red zone, to go to. Johnson is on the verge of setting two NFL records in Sunday’s game at Minnesota. The wide receiver can become the first player to have five consecutive games with more than 130 receiving yards and the first to record 10-plus receptions for four consecutive games. “I think if it was to happen, after the season was over, it would be a great accomplishment for a person to do something like that,” Johnson said. “But that’s something that you can’t worry about. You just have to go out and play. You can’t worry about records and things like that, because when you worry about those things, it kind of takes away from the game.”  The Vikings’ pass defense ranks 20th in the league, allowing 219.4 yards per game.

If Green is unable to go, the Texans should be covered after their acquisition of former Eagle Moats before the Bengals' game. Moats got some work in against the Bengals and will be at the very least an adequate option to spell Steve Slaton tomorrow against the Vikings. Slaton has 476 yards rushing in seven games, the fastest start in team history for a rookie. But he may face his toughest test yet against the Williams DTs, Pat and Kevin. “You just have to take what they give you,” Slaton said. “Hopefully, they slip up and give you a little bit more. You have to be smart on your decisions because they are already good enough and aren’t going to give too much away.” Slaton is third place among rookies in combined rushing and receiving yards with 601.

The Vikings have allowed 5 special teams' related touchdowns in 7 games this season while Jacoby Jones has returned 2 punts for touchdowns in the last 3. The stars look good for another return for Jones tomorrow. But, will Jacoby's mom have an endzone seat in the Metrodome? Jones’ 73- and 70-yard touchdown returns have helped him earn a 14.7-yard average over 15 returns. That is second only to Saints running back Reggie Bush’s 20.4 among all returners with more than seven attempts. “I saw where Reggie Bush could have had three on them, but he took two back on them,” Jones said. “There’s some tweaks in there. Maybe they fixed them, maybe not, but we’re going to try.” 



Category: NFL
Posted on: October 31, 2008 2:20 pm

On The Road Again

After four straight home games, the Houston Texans will be leaving the friendly confines of Reliant Stadium and headed up north to face the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday.

Like the company that gives the stadium its name, Reliant Stadium gave the Texans' season new energy after an 0-4 start. But now, the Texans try to get their first road win of the season after losing at Pittsburgh, at Tennessee and at Jacksonville.

The Vikings mirror the Texans at 3-4 as the winner looks to hit .500 on the season while the loser will have to battle hard the second half of the season to try and get a playoff berth.

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak on the importance of this game: “It’s a big game for our team. We’ve had a very poor month and we’ve fought like heck to get ourselves back in position. Now, we have to go do it against a very good football team in their home stadium. So, we just have to play solid football and get ourselves in position to make that play to win a game. So, they understand what they’re up against and I like the way they worked today. Let’s go take our shot.”

This game will likely feature the Vikings' running game against the Texans' aerial attack. Yes, you heard me correctly. I said Texans and aerial attack in the same sentence. Matt Schaub has gotten Vikings' Head Coach Brad Childress' attention. “You know what? I think Matt looks extremely comfortable in there. Obviously, you would think that in year two. He came from a version of the offense in Atlanta, but there are always nuances that people add, as all the West Coast people will tell you. But he just looks comfortable. I did him coming out when I was in Philadelphia and he was in a similar offense. He has a good touch and is able to move around in the pocket and is throwing for a high percentage. As I look at their quarterback’s numbers, they’re all in the 60-plus category.”

Childress also has been impressed with the Texans as a team: "I think they’re playing with a great deal of confidence right now, I would say on both sides of the football and the special teams. I see them having fun. I see them celebrating together. They look like they’re in a little bit of a groove in both the run and the pass. That’s a good feeling when you’re coaching on the offensive side, I know, to be able to have a rhythm and run it, throw it, bootleg it, whatever you want to do.”

This game is tough to decide. It really is a toss-up. Because of the contrasting styles of offense, it may boil down to who can get the big lead first. The Vikings can ground the time off the clock with a big lead, but can they pass the ball well enough to come from behind? The Texans have to protect the football and find a way to make the Vikings throw to win this one.<!--</font>--><!-- end story -->

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 30, 2008 9:44 am

Johnson's Month A Texan First

The days of the Houston Texans' offense being one of the worst in the league are no more. Game after game, week after week, month after month, the Texans' offense reaches a new team milestone to continually show that they are no longer the offense that was squashed week after week in previous seasons.

For the first time ever, a Houston Texan has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Month. The NFL named Andre Johnson the recipient of this award for the month of October. Johnson had 41 receptions for 593 yards and two touchdowns in four games in October. His 41 catches were 11 more than the next-closest receiver, and his 593 yards were nearly 150 more than the next-closest.

Andre Johnson is the only Texan offensive player to make it to the Pro Bowl.

“This guy is the best receiver in the league, and he proves that week in and week out,” Texans' wide receiver Kevin Walter said. “It starts in practice, too. He comes to work, he practices his tail off and it shows on Sunday. I’m glad he’s here.”

“The month that he’s had has been extremely special. And people are trying to do some things to take him away but, we’re really moving him around. He’s responded to that. He responds to the mental pressure we put on him to get him open," said Texan's head coach Gary Kubiak.

Vikings' head coach Brad Childress, who now has the task of gameplanning to stop Andre Johnson, has an idea why he is exploding at this moment. “I see growth and I see a healthy guy. That’s probably the biggest thing.  I just see him being comfortable. They’re displacing him, they’re moving him around, which tells me he’s spending time in his playbook. And he knows how to be moved around. It’s kind of like a ‘Where’s Waldo’ type of deal. And then I see him making plays both up the field and then with the catch and run part of it.”

Even Ocho Cinco was singing Andre's praises before the Texans beat the Bengals 35-6:  “Oh, man. That’s my boy right there. I love ‘Dre to death. We’ve been friends for a long time. In the offseason, we’re always together in the offseason. We work out at the same places. He’s a very good friend. We’re going on, what, maybe nine or 10 years now. It’s been a joy really watching him and really competing with him on I would say opposite sides of the world, but he’s not that far away....He’s a Johnson. What do you expect? He’s done it before, year in and year out. The only thing that slowed him down, I think, last year, was the injury I think where he missed a few games. That’s what you expect out of somebody like that, someone who is really a consistent Pro Bowler year in and year out. Maybe he doesn’t make it year in and year out, but he’s a Pro Bowl type of receiver. He can’t be stopped. He’s big. He’s fast. So it’s like you just pick your poison. At some point, he’s going to beat you, regardless of what you try to do.”

Johnson is on pace for 128 receptions this season. If he can continue down this path, he should be in line for a second trip to Honolulu.

(quotes creditted to


Category: NFL
Posted on: October 28, 2008 4:59 pm

Schaub FedExing Texan Turnaround

Just two weeks into the season, Matt Schaub was villified in the Houston fan base and media for awful play. The most common assessment of the Texans' quarterback was summed up in one sentence: He looks like David Carr.

Maybe the defenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans had a lot to do with that.

Ever since then, Schaub has been on a tear, the Texans' offense has been putting points on the board and the comparisons to the Texans' first starting quarterback have disappeared completely. For the second week in a row, Matt Schaub has been nominated as one of the three Finalists for the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week award. The other finalists are Drew Brees of the Saints and Chad Pennington of the Dolphins.

Schaub was 24-of-28 passing for 280 yards and three touchdowns with a career-best 144.0 quarterback rating in the Texans 35-6 victory over the Cincinatti Bengals last Sunday.

Texans' Head Coach Gary Kubiak said that the entire offense can be creditted for Matt's turnaround:
“I think it’s a combination of everything. Our young offensive line is becoming a heck of a group. The two running backs staying healthy have a lot to do with that. O.D. (TE Owen Daniels) has a lot of confidence, and No. 80 (WR Andre Johnson) is playing as good as I’ve ever seen a wide receiver play the game right now. So all that happening around Matt is making Matt better, and he’s obviously playing extremely well himself.”

One of the things that has improved this season from week one until now has been the chemistry between Schaub and his go-to receiver Andre Johnson. Injuries to both players last season cut down on the time they would have had together to try and build some sort of cohesion. But, says Schaub, that is coming together: "I think we're there. We might even have been there last week. Andre and I demand perfection. Every time we try to complete a pass, we expect it to be completed. He's a tremendous receiver and player. We expect a lot out of ourselves. I think we're getting there."

And, even though the Texans played the greatest game in their team history, Schaub thinks they can be even better:
"You always search for that perfect game and we were close today, but we still have things we can clean up and work on."

I am looking forwards to the continued imporvement from this group. Even though I am still in that minority who appreciates what David Carr tried to do and believe that most of his failings were just the effects of having a rookie quarterback be the starter for an expansion team (real bad idea), it's time for our quarterback of the future to become our quarterback of the present! Matt Schaub is our guy and has given Houston fans hope these past two weeks that they do have the right quarterback in there to take this team to the next level.

Their first winning season would be a good start.

And maybe, one day, the Texans can have this kind of performance against a defense that is as good as the Steelers and Titans were in their first two games of the season.

(quotes attributed to
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 27, 2008 12:55 pm

A Lonestar-Sized Baby Step

In case none of you saw (and judging from the fact that no one comment has been made on the message board related to the game, I'm guessing you probably didn't), one NFL team yesterday played its best game ever in franchise history. I am, of course, speaking of the Houston Texans as the trounced the winless Cincinatti Bengals, at home, by the score of 35-6.

Of course, I can understand why more people would pay attention to the Giants-Steelers game than would pay attention to the Texans-Bengals game. More people meaning almost everybody. And, it would also be easy to dismiss this performance by saying "it was against the Bengals". However, a closer look into this game might give one a bit of reason to say, "maybe those Texans ain't so bad after all".

Let's start with the fact that it was the winless Bengals. Back in 2002, this very same situation arose. The winless Bengals came to Houston on the winds of a guaranteed victory by Chad Johnson and thumped the expansion Texans 38-3. That was one of the ugliest defeats in Texans' history. Yesterday, the score was almost as identical but it was the Texans getting the win 35-6. The 29-point margin of victory is the largest in team history. A complete opposite result of the game in 2002 under very similar circumstances.

The victory over the Bengals gives the Texans three straight wins in a single season for the first time in franchise history. Their longest winning streak ever is 4 games. They won the last 2 games of the 2006 season and the first 2 games of the 2007 season. They have an opportunity to match that mark on the road next week against the Vikings.

Individually, this is the best game in Matt Schaub's career. Schaub went 24-of-28 for 280 yards and 3 TDs and did not throw an interception or fumble. In fact, the Texans did not turn the ball over as a team and had a +3 turnover differential for the game, after coming into the game -9 on the season. This is what the Texans are capable of doing when they simply protect the football.

Andre Johnson recorded his 4th straight 100-yard receiving game and continues to stake claim to one of those spots at the top of the NFL wide receiver food chain. In my night so unbiased opinion, I think it is possible he may very well be the best of the bunch at this point in his career.

Dunta Robinson is back after missing a year of action due to injuries. His interception yesterday gave him 12 for his career, a new team record.

And Mario Williams recorded his 7th sack of the season as he continues to show he was the right choice for the Texans' number one draft pick in 2006.

The Texans are a coin flip and a fumble away from being 5-2. Even at 3-4, they are right on the outskirts of being a wild card contender. Jacksonville is 3-4. Indianapolis is 3-3 heading into tonight's game against the undefeated Titans. San Diego is 3-5. The Texans are right in the mix with these teams. Just another baby step win against the Bengals but you gotta learn to crawl before you learn to walk.

Next week, the Texans try to do something they haven't done all season. Win on the road. Would be yet another Lonestar-sized baby step if they can beat the Vikings.
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 23, 2008 3:19 pm

Who Is Next On The Chopping Block?

We have yet to reach the halfway point of the NFL season and, already, there have been three head coaches fired. Surely more will fall before the end of the season. But who would be next? Here are some of the top candidates to lose their jobs before the 2009 season begins.

Wade Phillips - Wade should be able to make it through the season, barring some sort of monumental collapse. Jerry Jones has run off many head coaches, but he's never fired one during the season. However, most of us see the writing on the wall. In 2009, Jason Garrett will be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Rod Marinelli - I think Marinelli will last through the season. If they were going to fire him, they would have done so when they fired Matt Millen. No, Marinelli is like Wade. A lameduck whom will be fired when the Lions' new General Manager takes over and starts inserting hiw own people.

Brad Childress - Childress may becone the victim of high expectations for a team that may have been overhyped coming into the season. A losing streak of three or four games that kills the Vikings hopes for the playoffs might, indeed, be enough to send Childress packing before the season ends.

Herm Edwards - That one is hard to figure. In defense of Herm, the Chiefs haven't exactly been fortunate in the health of starting quarterbacks category. The team has gotten worse under Herm but has also gotten younger as well. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as "rebuilding" in the free agent/salary cap era of pro football. Still, I would not be surprised to see Herm wearing the Chiefs' headsets again next year cause I really have no idea what the Chiefs are trying to accomplish. Ownership has been loyal to Carl Peterson to a fault and Peterson has been loyal to Edwards to a fault. Maybe the Chiefs should be viewed as a sad sign of the times as this is all loyalty can get you anymore?

Marvin Lewis - What has happened to Lewis in Cincinatti has just dumbfounded me! He steps into an organization that had been the joke of the NFL for over 15 years and made them instantly respectable. Took them to their first playoff game since 1990. And, then, immediately, the wheels fell off. Lewis is hard to call. I wouldn't be shocked if he is fired midseason and I wouldn't be shocked if he is coaching the Bengals next season. I hope Lewis gets another chance as a head coach somewhere less dysfunctional because he did prove he can do the job his first three years in Cincinatti.

Eric Mangini - Was it just two years ago that he was labeled Mangenius? Again, a coach faced with unrealistic expectations based mostly on the acquisition of a 39 year old quarterback. Whom really has been quite inconsistent for a few years now and is showing that same inconsistency this season. 6 TDs in a game against Arizona and then no TDs and 2 INTs in a game against the Raiders. I think Mangini should last to the end of the season, cause even 8-8 will be an improvement on last season and 8-8 is about what the Jets can expect.

Romeo Crennel - A victim of his own mini-success. After a 10-win season in 07, too many people though the Browns were that good. After all, they had as many wins as the Giants and the Giants won the Super Bowl! The win over those same Giants on Monday Night Football took a lot of heat off of Crennel but he may be facing that heat again soon if he doesn't get the Browns above .500 soon. Still, I think Crennel survives to the end of the season at least.

Of the ones listed, I think Brad Childress would be most likely to be fired before the season ends. But I expect most, if not all of them, to survive to the end of the season and then for a few of them to be let go then.

Did I leave anyone out? Do you think one of these will be fired before the season is over?
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 21, 2008 5:06 pm

Pick Your Poison: Sports Traitors

With the news of Brett Favre allegedly giving away secrets to the Lions and of Jose Canseco regretting naming names in his book, I decided to try something different with my blog today.

I'm going to open up my blog to your voice. Here is a chance for you to rant on someone whom you feel has betrayed a team, a fan or a sport. For example, Tim Donaghy betrayed the entire trust of the NBA, its teams and its fans by betting on games he was officiating.

Who is your Toxic Traitor of sports? Bobby Petrino, maybe? Art Modell? Someone else? Have at it and tell me what sports figure you feel has betrayed you the most.
Category: General
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or