Truth be told, I don't actually consider myself a writer. This is somewhat odd, given that I've written --- and occasionally been paid! --- for newspapers, websites and law-related publications. Nevertheless, I've always felt that, at best, I was "someone who writes." To be a "writer" in my opinion, you have to transcend the kind of work product that the regular, run-o'-the-mill guy with a laptop and an Internet connection could churn out.
What's more, you have to write things that transcend their immediate context and become...something. If Jay McIrnerny had wedged the line, "You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning," into a story about people going to church, the words still would have made sense, but the soul-crushing coolness of that line would have been lost. I don't feel like I've ever created something like that.
Now, I don't say all of this as a backhanded way to fish for compliments; I am aware that there are people who like what I write, and I both appreciate this and find it quite flattering, but that's not the point here. That point is that, in trying to come up with a pithy and poignant description of the Texans' 2010 season, I kept failing under the weight of sarcasm or hatred that surrounded my thoughts. What could I write about Frank Bush, his impotent zone defense, the suckish void that is Brice McCain's coverage, the pain of DeMeco's injury, or even my blinding rage at Kubiak's conservative playcalling that hadn't already been said?
So I decided to do let some great writers handle the summary for me. With that in mind, I present a summary of the arc of the Texans' season as told through lines from great books:
Preseason: "Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting." --William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Arian Beats The Colts: "The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off." --Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Leaving D.C.: "Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect some day to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? Then why do we feel it even when the observation tower comes equipped with a sturdy handrail?" --Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Cowgirls: "Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out." --William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
DeMeco's Injury: "A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead." --Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
San Diego: "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." --Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
The Q-Tip: "All this happened, more or less." --Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
The Jets: "How could she ever understand that there isn't any way I could be disappointed since I no longer find anything worth looking forward to?" --Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho
MNF v. Baltimore: "Okay, I give up, I’ll dial. Anything you want me to be; ecstatic sexual bliss—I feel so bad I’ll even endure that. What the hell. What difference does it make?" --Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Lack of Arian Foster prior to final Denver INT: "So I mean listen I got this neat idea hey, you listening? Hey? You listening…?" --William Gaddis, J R
The Joy of the win against Jacksonville: "Every one of Joel's important songs--including the happy ones--are ultimately about loneliness. And it's not 'clever lonely' (like Morrissey) or 'interesting lonely' (like Radiohead); it's 'lonely lonely,' like the way it feels when you're being hugged by someone and it somehow makes you sadder." --Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
Kubiak's Future?: "I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story." --Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
Kubiak Stays: "So that, in the end, there was no end." --Patrick White, The Tree of Man
Epilogue: "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new." --Samuel Beckett, Murphy
Rushing yards by Arian Foster in 2010, which set a single-season record among undrafted players, besting the previous mark set by Priest Holmes in 2002 by 1 yard.
Difference between Arian Foster's 2010 rushing total and Steve Slaton's former club record of 1,282.
Total receptions and receiving yards, respectively, by Arian Foster in 2010. To put that total in perspective, the catch total is the second-highest all-time by the top rusher in a given season behind Marcus Allen's 67 in 1985. It is also tied for the 8th highest total in a season by any player in Texans history and is the second-best total for a Texans RB behind Domanick Williams' 68.
The yardage total is the second-highest all-time by the top rusher in a given season behind Priest Holmes' 614. To date, only Holmes and Foster have ever cracked 600 receiving yards while also leading the league in rushing. That total is also the highest for a Texans RB and the 17th best single-season total by any Texans player.
Difference between Arian Foster's Week 17 rushing yards (180) and Reggie Bush's 2010 rushing yards (150). Foster's yards/catch (9.2) were also far better than Bush's (6.1), despite Foster having 66 catches to Bush's 34.
Mediocrity, Numerically Demonstrated
47 games started
689-1190 (57.9% completion)
8,098 passing yards
1,380 rushing yards
42 passing TDs
12 rushing TDs
452,887,097 lusty diary entries written about him by lil' Dickie Justice
He's DMC, And He's Ser-i-ous...
DisplacedTexan (nee Evan) was in Little Rock last week and, while we were watching an otherwise dull bowl game, the following commercial came on:
Back To Back To The Future In The Future
A few weeks ago, I mentioned Back to the Future in the context of how it managed to ignore that the Libyans who "killed" Doc at the beginning of the film likely killed Doc and Marty at the end. Between that and George and Lorraine McFly's not finding it at all strange that they later have a son who looks exactly like their old pal Calvin Klein (and to say nothing of the problems with the time travel storyline), it would be very easy to cast the Back to the Future trilogy aside as mediocre movies with nothing to contribute.
Perhaps that's true with respect to the third one. It was pretty terrible. Doc, who has built time machines and flux capacitors and whatnot, never bothers to locate some kerosene and distill gasoline, opting instead to have horses pull the DeLorean. There had to be two time machines in 1885 because Marty and Doc went back separately. Etc. Etc. And the first one, well, it's fun and has some memorable scenes, but it creates a bunch of plot holes as you go along and ... you know ... I like the first one, so I'm not going to trash it too much.
THAT SAID, even if you discard the first and third ones as trite or "kid movies" or stupid or whatever, the second film remains fascinating for the simple reason that it was eerily accurate in its ideas about what the future would look like.
Perhaps the most obvious example of predictions gone right is this:
A flat-panel television with multiple windows showing multiple feeds at once? Hello, Redzone Channel!
Or how about this:
Video phones? Well, not on that scale (or with the nifty text!), but video calling is not only available in a home phone format, but on cell phones these days. (Aside: I hope video calling never becomes the standard form of communication, as I frequently talk on the phone while in the bathroom or in various states of undress. And that's something that you can't unknow about me.)
More? How about the fingerprint scanner that functions as security for the McFly's future home? You can have one of those right now.
Holographic movies? We'll, we're getting close with 3-D becoming commonplace, and I'd argue that IMAX in 3-D feels WAY more real than the polygonal shark that jumps off the Jaws 3-D sign at Marty. Eye-controlled gadgets? Well, we're getting there rapidly, what with Microsoft's Project Natal and the like.
So, no, we don't have hoverboards (though I pray every night that we will), we don't have self-drying coats, and we don't have sleep-inducing Alpha-Wave generators (at least not like in the movie). They've still technically got a few years to get to that stuff, however, and the amount of stuff we do have that was predicted in Back to the Future 2 is pretty amazing.
Milestones in the form of receptions and receiving yards that Andre Johnson can reach next season (he currently has 673 and 9,164). If he can get to 768 receptions --- 95 catches --- he would pass Marshall Faulk and move into 25th all-time. If he gets to 10,572 yards --- 1,408 in 2011 --- he would pass Keyshawn Johnson and move into 30th all-time.
Among active players, Johnson is 10th in both catches and receiving yards. Every player above him on both lists is at least three years older than Dre, and between possible retirements (Terrell Owens (37), Joey Galloway (39), Derrick Mason (36), Donald Driver (35)) and Dre's typical output, it's entirely possible that Dre could be at the top of the active list in both categories in as few as two more seasons.
Plus, he does this:
Passing TDs and passing yardage milestones that Matt Schaub could reach in 2011. The TDs are pretty much a given, assuming he plays the whole season, as he already has 83. The yardage is a bit of a stretch; he has 15,457 right now, so he would need 4,543.
Random Bit of Evidence That Perhaps Our Defensive Coaching Has Been Subpar
Check out what a certain former Texan did once he was given a starting role and regular snaps in a 4-3 front. I'm not saying that this is dispositive or anything, but I find it interesting that a guy who was initially considered a first-round talent, but who slid to the fourth for a non-injury reason, was suddenly able to play well when he went to a team with good defensive coaches and was given regular snaps at his natural position. It's not like being on a line with Tim Crowder, Stylez G. White, and Roy Miller is superior to one with Mario Williams, Antonio Smtih, and Amobi Okoye. At the very least, the former is not so superior that being on the latter line would make you go from starter-quality to cut-worthy.
Wade Phillips Was Hired, The Sun Rose In The East, Water Is Wet
Yesterday at Battle Red Blog, I wrote a post explaining how the personnel already on the Texans' roster would fit into Wade Phillips' one-gap 3-4 scheme. Discussing linemen, I said:
Phillips' system, however, has the linemen --- even the nose tackle --- playing a one-gap system. At the snap, each of those linemen picks one of his two gaps and shoots through it. He is responsible for anything coming through that gap, with the linebackers responsible for anything coming through an open gap. (We'll cover the linebackers more in a second.) While Phillips' scheme does generally use larger DEs similar to what you'd find in the traditional two-gap 3-4 front, his system does not require them. Case in point, while all of Dallas' DEs this year were over 300 lbs, Luis Castillo played at 290 or less while Phillips was there. Yes, that's big in a 4-3 DE, but that's undersized in your traditional 3-4 mold.
Nor does Phillips' plan require a massive nose tackle. Sure, he will use them when he can get them (again, think San Diego with 340+ lb Jamal Williams), but they are not required because, in Phillips' scheme, the nose tackle has no more responsibility for eating up blockers than does any other defensive lineman. In fact, one of Dallas' starting DEs, Igor Olshansky, weighed more than Dallas' starting NT, Jay Ratliff, who is listed at 6-4/303 (though he is probably closer to 310 these days).
Here's the thing, though: I feel like, vis-a-vis my later comments on Amobi Okoye, I didn't make my point clearly enough. The point is that all three linemen in Wade's system are roughly the same size because they all do the same thing. So, if you believe that Amobi is big/fast/good enough to play DE in this scheme, then he's also able to play NT because it's no different in terms of role/responsibility. I feel like that got lost and that a discussion about "I like Amobi at DE but not NT in this scheme" is kind of missing the point.
I am not claiming that he is the best possible NT in the whole world for this scheme. Far from it, in fact. IF the Texans decided to beef up the line and go with a bigger player inside the way Wade did in San Diego, then, yes, Amobi would move outside.
That Which Should Not Be Spoken
DreKeem hit on it at BRB, but I feel like everyone is taking for granted that DeMeco will be back and will be ready to play well as the WILB in the Phillips system. My fear, however, is not that he won't be back at 100%; it's that he won't be back at all. If we are all being honest with ourselves, I think we have to admit that middle linebacker is probably way up there on the list of positions that need to be addressed through the draft or through free agency. Building your defense under the assumption that DeMeco will fill that role is just a sure recipe to find yourself with a glaring hole come September.
And Now, A Self-Explanatory List
- "Mama Tried," Merle Haggard
- "Rock Me, Mama," Old Crow Medicine Show
- "Mama, I'm Comin' Home," Ozzy Osbourne
- "Tell Mama," Etta James
- "Dear Mama," 2Pac
- "Your Mama Don't Dance," Loggins & Messina
- "Shake Shake Mama," Bob Dylan
- "Take Your Mama Out," Scissor Sisters
- "Mama Said Knock You Out," L.L. Cool J
- "Mama Don't Get Dressed Up For Nothin'," Brooks and Dunn
Random Amobi-Centric Note I Feel I Should Point Out
I know part of the Amobi hate stems from "he wasn't worth the pick we spent on him." I understand that, even if I think it's a bit of sophistry --- whether he was a good pick at his slot is a separate question from whether his play has been good on the field, at least in my mind. Still, looking at the 2007 Draft, I noticed something a little strange: only one defensive lineman, MICHIGAN defensive end LaMarr Woodley, taken in that draft has made the Pro Bowl, and even he made it as a linebacker.
No, Pro Bowls are not the end-all, be-all of such things, but even the non-Pro Bowlers that we might have considered are slim pickings. I had a mancrush on Charles Johnson (UGA, Carolina Panthers) at the time, and he's now on the verge of being a star, but he wasn't taken until the third round. So, keeping in mind that we had no second-round pick and we'd taken a DE first overall the year before, if one assumes that the Texans were dead-set on taking a defensive tackle in that draft, the list of guys taken in that range were: Okoye, Adam Carriker, Justin Harrell, and Alan Branch. We were never going to take Branch with Richard Smith still in the employ of the Texans, Carriker was a bust in St. Louis before being revived somewhat in Washington, and Harrell has played in a total of 14 games in his career.
Hindsight is great and all that, so it's nice to look back and say, "man, we should've taken Patrick Willis or Darrelle Revis or Michael Griffin," but the fact of the matter is that the entire pick came down to Okoye or Willis. Given that we'd taken DeMeco the year prior and he'd been great in 2006, there was little need to take another MLB with the plan of moving him to WLB. So, while there are reasons to complain about Amobi Okoye's play, the fact that he was drafted at #10 is not really one of them. Based on everyone's evaluations, he was more or less the only pick we were going to consider, and at his position, it's not like there were glaringly better options that we might've considered, even in hindsight.
3 catches, 11 yards receiving
That was Steve Slaton's total for 2010. Remember not that long ago when we all assumed that, even if he could not be an every-down back, Slaton would still have value as a third-down back? Yeah, Arian Foster sort of rendered that moot with his awesomeness.
Jacoby, In Chart Form
Via pro-football-reference.com, here's the list of active punt returners by average yards per return:
2010 Texans That I Suspect Will Not Be 2011 Texans
Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out
I wonder how we'll remember the Frank Bush era in a few years. My guess is that it will all run together with the Richard Smith years into one mega-memory of suck. Sure, there were minor differences --- even Bush didn't like Petey Faggins, nor should he --- but the results were sickeningly the same.
So, Frank Bush, on your way to places unknown, I have but one wish for you: may you call for 8-yard cushions from the 4-yard line in Hell for all eternity.
Passing yards allowed by the Texans in 2010, worst in the league by 93 yards over the Redskins. While this is still laughably bad, playing against Trent Edwards saved the Texans the ignominy of continuing the pace they had through week 16, which would have landed them as the second-worst pass defense (yards allowed) behind the 1995 Falcons (4,541) and ahead of the 2005 49ers (4,427).
During a drunken marathon of Wii bowling and Wii golf, Evan and I started trying to come up with a list of the 20 best albums of the 1990s. There really wasn't much in the way of hard-and-fast criteria. Basically, it had to be a great album on its own, and it had to have some sort of lasting musical or cultural impact. I then asked grungedave and BFD to chime in and help whittle the list down to the definitive 10 best. (For a frame of reference, recall that dave and I were both born in the late seventies, Evan was born in the early 80s, and BFD was born in the late Jurassic.)
With no further ado, and in particular order, here you go:
"The Chronic," Dr. Dre
"Jagged Little Pill," Alanis Morissette
"Under the Table and Dreaming," Dave Matthews Band
The Black Album, Metallica
"Ten," Pearl Jam
"The Score," Fugees
"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," Smashing Pumpkins
"No Fences," Garth Brooks
The Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer Inexplicable Decision Of The Week
Much like the decision to name a child "Marijuana Pepsi," the decision to retain Gary Kubiak for the 2011 season, somehow obviating him from any responsibility for having hired Frank Bush over people who were actually qualified, is perplexing at best. Look, I know Bob McNair is loyal and that he has this old school notion that firing a coach sets your team back, but you know what else sets your team back? Having a bad coach in the first place. If Andre Johnson never sees the playoffs with this team, it would be a crime against all that is good and holy and wonderful about America and football and life itself. /hyperbole
TXT MSGS of the Week
Did Trent F#*king Edwards just covert a 3rd and 12 with his FEET???
An interception by a safety? My head just exploded.
Did the Adibi unicorn just make a tackle AND cover a RB?
In all likelihood, this is the last Two-Day Hangover until the 2011 preseason gets here. If that is the case, I just want to thank everyone who took the time to read my inane ramblings about movies, music, time travel, kids, geography, astronomy, and the like. That goes double for anyone who took the time to comment. With any luck, the 2011 version of the 2DH will be more upbeat and will extend well into January.
"But that is the beginning of a new story - the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended." --Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment