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Tag:TJ Yates
Posted on: January 17, 2012 12:05 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 12:08 pm
 

Coach Killers, Week 19: Drops, picks and sacks

Coach Killers is your postseason look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that ends Super Bowl aspirations and begins "So, where should we vacation?" discussions.

By Ryan Wilson

Jacoby Jones, T.J. Yates - Houston

Jacoby Jones is the easy choice here because in the time it took him to try to field a punt with his face, he swung the momentum in the Ravens' favor. The Texans' opening drive led to three points, and the defense had forced Baltimore to punt on their first possession. Then Jones happened. (To his credit, he fell on an Arian Foster fumble later in the game. It doesn't make up for his first-quarter punt but it's something.) But he's not the only reason the Texans lost.

Jones had a long day in Baltimore. (US PRESSWIRE)
It's probably unfair to call out Yates here; he's a rookie who played collegiately at a basketball school that had never produced a starting NFL quarterback. His 2011 destiny was to spend the season running the scout team during the week and sitting comfortably on the bench on Sundays.

Then Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart were lost for the season, the Texans' playoff hopes didn't seem far behind, and the offense was suddenly Yates'. And he played beyond everyone's expectations. Which is why we don't feel quite so bad for name-checking him now.

Against Baltimore, he was 17 of 35 for 184 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. And if Yates had found a way to complete just one of those picks to someone not wearing purple and black, the outcome of this game could've been different. In fact, midway through the final quarter we actually had this thought: What if Yates leads Houston to a win (easily the biggest in franchise history)? No matter what happens in the conference championship, he's now entered Matt Flynn airspace.

Which is to say: assuming that Schaub and Leinart are both healthy by training camp, the Texans could try to trade Yates to a QB-needy team and make a nice little profit on the transaction. (We figured they might be able to get a third-rounder out of it; not bad given that Yates was a fifth-round afterthought last April.)

But that daydream was short-lived. Ed Reed's ball-hawking abilities quickly brought us back to reality and guaranteed that come August, Yates will return to a backup role. For the time being, anyway.

Green Bay 'pass catchers'

Easily the worst-performing bunch of the weekend and it's not close. It's easy to blame rust as the culprit but it could be something much simpler than that: the Packers were off (Hey, Occam's razor). They also have terrible timing.

Bad hands and worse timing for Packers. (Getty Images)
Whatever the explanation, unless Mike McCarthy has a time machine, the fact remains that Green Bay's season is over and it's primarily because their usually sure-handed receivers dropped eight Aaron Rodgers' passes.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Lori Nickel pithily recaps what happened at Lambeau Sunday.

"James Starks, Tom Crabtree, Greg Jennings, (Jordy) Nelson and (Jermichael) Finley all had drops. Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant and John Kuhn all lost fumbles."

Nelson was dumbfounded after the game.

"For everyone to do it in the same game," he said. "I don't know . . . I don't want to say it's contagious. But it sure looked like it today."

Finely was more practical. "Trying to do too much," he offered. "We were trying to look upfield, trying to get the YAC, but first you've got to catch the ball."

However you choose to explain it, it was a horrible showing for a team that won 15 games in 2011. Silver lining: Somebody's getting something really nice with the Best Buy gift cards coming their way.

Denver offensive line

Any conversation about the Broncos invariably begins with Tim Tebow. But that's no different than at any other point in his career going back to high school. Tebow is many things to many people, and for Denver, for now, he's theirs starting quarterback. Even following a forgettable performance against the Patriots, seven days after his most impressive showing in two years in the NFL.

But Tebow's final line -- 9 of 26 for 136 yards, 5 rushes for 13 yards, a lost fumble and 10 measly points -- isn't just the latest example that he's a fullback who is occasionally asked to throw the ball.

We've documented in great detail his progress this season. Has Tebow evolved into a franchise quarterback in 13 weeks? No, of course not. But the Broncos learned quickly that the best way to make this relationship work is by accentuating what Tebow does well (the college offense Tebow ran at Florida) and throwing the rest of the playbook in the incinerator (the pro-style offense the team ran with Kyle Orton).

But it's not just Tebow who has to grow into this system, it's his teammates. Specifically, the offensive line, at least based on their performance Saturday. In general, the unit performed well this season, particularly when Denver ran the ball. According to Football Outsiders' metrics, the Broncos' o-line ranked 11th in run-blocking in 2011 but 29th in pass protection.

Clearly, some of that falls on Tebow, who struggles to make correct presnap reads, or work through his progressions after the snap. But against New England, the Broncos had 15 plays that lost yards -- both running and passing (including sacks).

This doesn't mean that Denver needs to overhaul the entire unit. But if the plan is to build an offense around Tebow and the option game, they need to find players that best fit that scheme.

New Orleans secondary

Jenkins' day was much longer than Jacoby Jones'. (AP)
There's plenty of blame to go around, on both sides of the ball, but underwhelming performances by Roman Harper and especially Malcolm Jenkins gives the secondary the edge. Harper was the closest player to Vernon Davis on his game-winning touchdown grab, and afterwards, the 49ers said that they noticed on film that Harper's tendency was to drop several yards into the end zone but never step up to the goal line. Davis ran to the goal line, Alex Smith hit him with a laser, game over.

But a lot had to happen before Harper even got the opportunity to let Davis make the play. Linebacker Scott Shanle never redirected Davis as he came off the line of scrimmage, and linebacker Martez Wilson just missed tipping Smith's pass.

Jenkins, meanwhile, served as Davis' metaphorical punching bag. The poor guys at Canal Street Chronicles relive the horror to provide the play-by-play breakdowns in those fateful final three minutes. The final breakdown was Harper's; the other two are courtesy of Jenkins' inability to stop Davis.

As Brinson wrote in Sorting the Sunday Pile, "You might want to pick on Roman Harper for getting worked over by Vernon Davis in the end zone on the final touchdown, but Jenkins is the reason the Niners even had a shot. First there's the teardrop Alex Smith dropped over Jenkins into Davis' outstretched arms before his now famous touchdown run. Then there's Jenkins coverage on Davis across the middle when he picked up 47 yards on the 49ers final drive. Burnt toast anyone?"

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Texans cut Kellen Clemens, will sign Jeff Garcia

The Houston rookie QB is suddenly surrounded by old-timers. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

In the span of a few weeks, the Houston Texans have gone from having a top-10 quarterback and a quality veteran backup, to starting a rookie and signing former players in various stages of retirement to provide depth behind him.

The latest in the Texans' geriatric version of musical wheelchairs, via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Brandon Williams: "Quarterback Kellen Clemens was waived (and the team) plans to sign QB Jeff Garcia, the Houston Chronicle reports. Garcia last appeared in the NFL with the Eagles in 2009 and has since played with Omaha in the UFL. Garcia will be the third quarterback behind rookie T.J. Yates and Jake Delhomme." 

The Texans had plenty of questions heading into the season, chief among them how Wade Phillips would fix one of the league's worst defenses. An area that no one was worried about: quarterback.

Matt Schaub, entering his fifth year in Houston, had quietly entered the elite QB conversation. He threw for at least 4,300 yards in 2009 and 2010, completing at least 64 percent of his passes over that time (including 53 TDs, 27 INTs). And then, 10 games into 2011, Schaub suffered a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve.

No problem, though; veteran backup Matt Leinart, a former Heisman winner and first-round pick, would lean heavily on the running game and the Texans' defense would do the rest. Except that Leinart didn't make it to halftime of his first start before he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

So now it's the T.J. Yates show, with understudies Delhomme (36) and Garcia (41), who have a combined 22 seasons of experience between them. Both players came into the NFL in 1999; Delhomme led the Panthers to the Super Bowl following the 2003 season, and Garcia took two teams to the playoffs on four occasions (2000-02 49ers, 2007 Bucs).

In Week 13, Yates became the first University of North Carolina alum to start an NFL game at quarterback and he helped the Texans beat the Falcons. The plan, at least for now, is for Yates to continue to play with Delhomme and Garcia backing him up, in that order.  

The Texans weren't done signing old-timers; with punter Brett Hartmann on injured reserve with an ACL injury, Houston inked Matt Turk, 43, who was a fan favorite during a previous stint with the team from 2007-10.

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 8:53 am
 

Report: Texans to sign QB Jake Delhomme

Delhomme could be Houston's newest quarterback. (Getty Images/AP/US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Texans placed quarterback Matt Schaub on injured reserve last week. On Sunday, they lost backup Matt Leinart to a broken collarbone. Instead of going through the rest of the season with backup to the backup, T.J. Yates, Houston will signed veteran Jake Delhomme after a Tuesday workout, NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reports.

The Texans had already signed former Jets second-round pick Kellen Clemens after losing Schaub for the season. Delhomme becomes the latest addition to the new-look Houston quarterbacks now that they're without Leinart (who also appears headed for injured reserve).

Delhomme spent seven seasons with the Carolina Panthers and led them to the 2003 Super Bowl (they lost to the Patriots) and the 2008 NFC Divisional game (another loss, this time to the Cardinals). The Browns signed Delhomme to be their starter in 2010, but injuries and an unwieldy contract led to his release after the season.

There was some speculation that he might be in demand as a mentor, perhaps reuniting with John Fox in Denver to help groom Tim Tebow (turns out, Tebow doesn't need any help).

And earlier this season, the Dolphins were reportedly interested in signing Delhomme (he passed).

At 8-3, the Texans are the AFC's top team. And despite losing its Nos. 1 and 2 signal callers, should have little trouble making the playoffs. That said, the expectations once they get there were pretty much dashed when Leinart followed Schaub to IR.

The Texans are in their 10th year of existence and have never qualified for the postseason. They're only winning campaign came in 2009 when they went 9-7. Seventh-year head coach Gary Kubiak was in danger of losing his job after last year's disappointing 6-10 effort, but he was retained. And right up until they lost Schaub, Houston was considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com