The Two-Day Hangover, Week 3: Where The Texans Secondary Is Second To All

The Hangover returns, perturbed by a rather unexplainable loss, thereby leading to rants on a woeful secondary, the Texans' misperceived "cheating problem" and, uh, Gankstas.

One of the bad things about writing this column when and how I do — random stuff added to a Word document Thursday through Saturday and then most of Monday evening spent finishing it by adding stuff that actually pertains to the past Texans’ game — is that I rarely am able to include anything having to do with Monday Night Football, and I have no shot at putting in the kind of breaking stories that come on Tuesday’s off day. C’est la vie. (French for "That is la vie.")

ANYWAY, the reason I mention this is because it happened this past week that the Hangover wasn’t able to mention Reggie Bush’s not-at-all-surprising injury or Duane Brown’s four-game suspension. Now, here we are, a week later, and the fascist supporters of the Gregorian calendar are conspiring to oppress me. Stupid Mongorians Gregorians, what with their calendars and their chanting and their ... other ... stuff ... that I’m sure they do. Well I, for one, refuse to bow down to our Gregorian overlords any longer! AWW, SNAP! WE ‘BOUT TO GO JULIAN CALENDAR ON DAT AZZ! IT’S LIKE THE HANGOVER DONE ORDERED THIS TO BE AN INTERCALARY WEEK, YO!1 DATE CALCULATING JUST GOT REAL, SON!

*  *  *

Fast Life Woman

Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins was a Texas-born blues guitarist born in 1912 whose career spanned from 1946 until just prior to his death in 1982.  He was a huge influence on blues and rock guitarists in Houston (Hopkins's home base) and Austin, and he was Houston's poet-in-residence for over three decades.  He was, in a word, a total badass of the highest order.  (What's that?  That's seven words?  Shut it, you.)

Why do I mention the late Mr. Hopkins?  Because one of my favorite songs is Hopkins's Henny Penny Blues, which you can listen to here.  The poet David Pekrul took that title and wrote:

There's many people in the world just like our Henny Penny/
They panic when they listen to the news/
They think the sky is falling and we're all about to die/
I'd say they have the Henny Penny Blues.

If I were the type of person who felt it necessary to remind all of you that one loss is not the end of the world, I could do much worse than to point you toward Lightnin' Hopkins.  I'm not really that type of person --- I honestly don't care that much if you think the sky is falling, and I think a decent case can be made that parts of the loss portend bad things in the future --- but there's still some solid logic there.

The sky might not be falling, but there are definitely cracks.

With at least one eye toward avoiding statements that are more panicked overstatement than rational analysis, let’s just get this out of the way right now: your Houston Texans have the worst secondary in the NFL, and I’m not sure that it’s a particularly close competition right now.

  • Eugene Wilson is the worst starting free safety in the league right now — he can’t cover, he gets fooled consistently by play action, he has no real speed sideline to sideline (and even less when forced to turn and run with a WR), and I don’t think he even has opposable thumbs based on his ball-catching efforts. Yet he stays in the starting lineup, and he continues to increase his lead in the ever-fun category "number of dropped INTs that would have been freaking huge."
  • Bernard Pollard is a joy to watch in run support, and he is constantly improving our relationships with other teams by engaging in snappy banter along the sidelines, but he is (to put it charitably) a liability in coverage. Thing is, if there was a good free safety back there with him, Pollard’s coverage skills would be much less of an issue. But there’s not.
  • Kareem Jackson is a rookie, so I’m not judging his long-term potential or even the Texans’ selection of him in 2010 here. All the same, Jackson frequently looks lost by the speed and size of the NFL game (yes, even compared to ESS EEE SEE FOOBAWL). He also seems to be a cum laude graduate of the Eugene Wilson School of Catching the Damn Ball.
  • Glover Quin apparently is not Champ Bailey. Pancakes McClain is shocked by this revelation. Quin is, however, the best DB on the field for Houston right now, both in terms of coverage ability and ability to make an open-field tackle.
  • Brice McCain is not good. Just ask Roy Williams.

That's three guys who can't cover (two of whom cannot play their positions even remotely well), one rookie who looks shell-shocked, and one above-average corner.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a worse quintet.  Here’s what I am wondering, though: why is Troy Nolan not getting snaps at FS? I mean, at least at FS, there are legitimate options on the roster right now.  Assuming Nolan has not undergone leg-removal surgery or a frontal lobotomy in the last 48 hours, he could not possibly be worse than Wilson, meaning that the odds are very good that Nolan represents some amount of upgrade at the very position where we could most use an upgrade. Has Wilson somehow slid into the Petey Faggins Memorial Role for Kubiak? Because, if so, I am going to lose my mind.

Also, why has Jacques Reeves not been called up and begged to forgive the stupidity that led to his departure? How many games is the current corps of DBs going to have to cost Houston (or almost cost Houston) before Kubiak suggests to Frank Bush and the rest of the defensive coaches that they might want to try something different?  We know Reeves knows the system, there is no salary cap this year (so financial concerns don't carry a lot of water), and it's not like any of the other corners is great about turning his head and locating the ball.  Can Reeves really be worse than McCain?  If so, how?

It’s so crazy, it just might work.

Speaking of trying something different, I have an idea. Let’s try not playing a scheme that is obviously not working. In fact, let’s get TOTALLY CRAZY and try that before Bruce Gradkowski hangs 300 yards on us. Whaddayasay, Gar?

Random question that has been gnawing at me like a gerbil in Richard Gere's rectum.

Is it possible that, in building a team designed to beat Indianapolis, we’ve also built a team that is going to struggle against other teams? We've gone small on the offensive and defensive lines, at least in part because that's the best matchup against Indianapolis.  What's more, the team looked far better against Indy than it has since.  I really don't have an answer here; I'm spitballing just to see what you guys think.

I’m Too Sexy For My Retro Zip-up Sweater-Jacket-Thing.

The uniforms for this year’s Ryder Cup team are — what’s the word? Surprising? Odd? Something like that.  It's like someone decided they really, really wanted to see Tiger Woods dress like Sam Snead.  Retro-golf-attire fantasies are the new furries, you know.

104468518_medium

So, what the hell happened Sunday?

I'm not sure.  (How's THAT for insight?!)  What it looked like from 400 miles away on a television screen was that, save for Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, the Texans showed up assuming that they would win and win easily.  There was no intensity from the start, they tackled like contact with Cowboys players would give them herpes2, the playcalling looked like they were throwing darts at the playchart and going with whatever they landed on, and they insisted on sticking with a defensive gameplan that was not working rather than change things up appreciably at half time. Hopefully, this will serve as a wakeup call and the Texans we saw in week 1 will show up for the game against Oakland. Forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

Gold Stars For Good Play.

  • Arian Foster continues to be a man.  Respect. 
  • Andre Johnson is a full-fledged pile of awesomeness, and he continually makes me wonder if God was disappointed with Jesus and decided to have a second son more in keeping with His greatness. 
  • Rashad Butler was far from perfect, but I really, really liked the technique I saw.  He got his arms extended quickly and kept space between himself and DeMarcus Ware, and he kept his butt low.  He's not the run blocker than Duane Brown is, but, if Sunday was any indication --- forgive me if I channel my inner Malcom Gladwell and thin-slice the performance --- Brown is not the pass blocker than Butler is.
  • Antonio Smith and Amobi Okoye.  They were inconsistent, but these two were the only bright spots (to the extent there were any bright spots) in our run defense, especially early on.

People who played like turd.

Eric Winston, Eugene Wilson, Mario Williams, Zac Diles, Matt Schaub, Brice McCain, Matt Turk.

Weightspeed Fail.

So, we have an under-sized offensive line on purpose.  Yet, when we get first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, we line up in a jumbo formation with no misdirection and no motion, and we try to power the ball in.  Then we act surprised and confused when this doesn't work.  To quote George from Hoosiers, "Look, mister, there's two kinds of dumb: a guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and a guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don't matter; the second one you're kinda forced to deal with."  (And if you just pictured Gary Kubiak naked in your living room, you're welcome.)

Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds...

Speaking about the Washington Redskins fans, our favorite mutant, Mario Williams, explained:

"It was crazy. People were yelling at me right behind us on the bench, asking, 'Have I eaten my mushroom?' I listen to fans, and they have to realize that the stuff they say gets taken out on their quarterback. They were talking mad smack, which is normal. But you have to be smart about who you talk to. They got more than they bargained for."

...except when I am not.

If it wasn’t for the near-sack of Tony Romo and one hurry a few plays later, I would have assumed that no one told Mario that it was a noon kickoff and he was not at the game. That was simply sad. I realize that he didn’t get to torture Alex Barron the way we’d all hoped, but it’s not like Dallas has all-world OTs. Mario should have been able to cause much more havoc than he did.

The knock on Mario has always been that he doesn’t show up every week in terms of production. I’ve always hated that argument, simply because I don’t think you can expect him to notch 3 or 4 sacks every week. You can, however, expect him not to be a complete non-factor.  Until he reaches that point, the questions about his effort and intensity are always going to linger.

You know what else is Brown? Poop.

In his picks column this week, Bill Simmons had a list of the QBs started by Cleveland since they re-entered the league in 1999.

Ty Detmer
Tim Couch
Doug Pederson
Spergon Wynn
Kelly Holcomb
Jeff Garcia
Luke McCown
Trent Dilfer
Charlie Frye
Derek Anderson
Brady Quinn
Ken Dorsey
Bruce Gradkowski
Jake Delhomme
Seneca Wallace

That is an amazing amalgam of absolutely awful athletes. (ALLITERATION FOR THE WIN!)

Seriously, though, for all the ups and downs of being a Texans fan over the past 8+ seasons, would you trade positions with Browns fans (even including the fact that they’ve reached the playoffs)? I wouldn’t. Unless I was allowed to throw beer bottles and snowballs at officials and opponents at every single game.

In case you were wondering, and I know you were.

Scientists surveyed 503 women, had them describe various aspects of their orgasms, and determined that there were actually four different types of female orgasm that corresponded roughly to the quality of the sex.  The categories were (1) good sex with high levels of physical gratification and pleasure, (2) good sex with high levels of pleasure and slightly lower levels of physical gratification, (3) not-so-good sex with medium levels of pleasure and physical gratification, and (4) not-so-good sex with low levels of both, known in most circles as the bigfatdrunkgasm.3

When Stupidity Is Allowed To Run Wild.

The Almighty Editor-san is going to reduce the tension that would have likely been generated by the original introduction of this section and refer all inquiries pertaining to that original material to Matt's e-mail address. Thus, to preface, we're going to discuss an article written by a certain Indianapolis Colts blogger who writes under the name "Big Blue Shoe." I think it's safe to say that Matt's opinion is, well, his opinion. I do, however, think that he is entitled to provide a response to Blue Blue Shoe's piece - to be referenced below - so long as it does not personally attack the author, fellow SBN colleague Brad Wells, which is why you're seeing an italicized break-in rather than... yeah, you can guess.

Oh, and Brad? I would normally object to your calling Texans 'morons', but, well, consider the source, ya know?

Following news of Duane Brown’s suspension, Brad Wells wrote an insightful piece entitled "Gee, The Texans Sure Are Running A Clean Program In Houston, Huh?" And, by insightful, I mean "insipid." (I refuse to link to the post because he doesn’t deserve the traffic. If you want to read the thing for yourself, it was posted on 9/22.) Let’s fisk a bit, shall we?

Basically, in a 'nut'shell, Cushing and Brown are cheaters. I'm sure all manner of Texans fans and team pandering apologists will provide many excuses to justify the reasons why both these idiots were caught 'juicing' with something that gave them an unfair advantage.

Somebody has no idea how to use quotation marks. That’s always nice.

Secondly, and much more to the point, in two sentences, Brad manages to illustrate why so many people hate bloggers. Cushing tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), not steroids. From all available reports, Brown tested positive for a banned substance in a supplement, not steroids. For the record, the banned-substances list includes such "performance enhancing" drugs as Sudafed, Actifed, Propecia, and bitter orange. Thus, while it is entirely possible that they were using something onerous, BBS has zero evidence that they were. Yet he spouts off as if he does. Shocking.

But, the truth is once you're caught, you're branded a cheater and pretty much everything you did prior to getting caught gets tossed out the window.

So sayeth the Shoe!

This is why Cushing should have had his Rookie of the Year award from 2009 stripped from him the way Reggie Bush had his Heisman taken from him.

These literally have nothing to do with each other. Cushing’s ROY award was based on his on-field performance, which steroids (if he took them) would have impacted. Bush’s Heisman was based on his on-field performance, which taking gifts from boosters would not have impacted at all. Cushing’s award, had it been stripped, would have been taken because the voters felt that the performance for which he was awarded was not indicative of his actual unenhanced play. Bush’s award, had it been stripped, would have been taken away because he was ineligible to win it. (Also, Bush’s Heisman wasn’t "taken from him;" he returned it before the Heisman Foundation decided what to do. Let's get those facts straight.)

The award voters who opted not to restore honor to the NFL (and instead reward Cushing for his cheating) are a disgrace to their profession. We call them the Cushing 18.

Does BBS have a mouse in his pocket? Who is this "we" who call those writers "the Cushing 18"? I’m sure the writers’ collective pride is stinging from such a scathing sobriquet.

This is now two players in one season for the Texans who have been suspended for cheating. Once is an odd occurrence. Twice in one season is a trend.

This is now three times in this article where the author has made a statement of fact that was completely incorrect. Once is a simple mistake. Three times in one article is a [trend]. Cushing tested positive for hCG in 2009 and was suspended in late 2009 for the first four games of the 2010 season. So, no, that’s not "two players in one season who have been suspended for cheating."

[***] And for any silly Texans fans who get red-faced when I make fun of them, sorry but when people of a specific fanbase actually try and defend cheating, they openly invite people like me to toss Blazing Saddles references in their direction.

So, despite the fact that BBS misstated important facts and demonstrated a complete inability to logically deduce anything, he says that Texans fans are morons?

Retired NFL offensive lineman Bill Fralic testified to the U.S. Senate that roughly 75% of NFL linebackers, linemen, and tight ends used steroids while he was playing in the 80s and early 90s. Earnest Graham said that probably 30% of NFL players use HGH. Given that there is currently no testing for HGH under the NFL’s drug-testing policy, many people have suggested that Graham’s number is probably low. Point being, to pretend like the Texans are the only team doing any kind of performance enhancing — especially when you have no evidence that Cushing or Brown actually took steroids/HGH — is ridiculous.

Note: I’m not saying that what Cushing and Brown did is somehow OK because "everyone is doing it." That would be too simple, which is the type of thinking I tend to expect from BBS. Rather, I am saying that any article that starts from a premise that the Texans are distinct from the league in terms of PED use is flawed from the start. Is taking a banned substance or an unapproved supplement that turns out to contain a banned substance dumb? Yes. But it’s far less dumb than railing at length about a topic on which a certain someone is woefully uninformed.

There is no middle ground with cheating. Cheaters are scum, and have no business playing in the NFL. If you disagree, that's you [sic] prerogative. But, be warned that you invite ridicule.

There is no middle ground with being a utterly wrong about a subject. Keeping in mind that NEITHER player tested positive for steroids, why doesn't Mr. Wells come down off his high horse, stop speaking in absolutes and explain how what these two did (especially Brown) is per se "cheating." If Brown really took a tainted supplement and was unaware what was in it, which is what he claims (and there is no evidence to support an alternative explanation), then his positive test was an accident. In that situation, how is he cheating? Is BBS saying that people can cheat by accident to an extent so egregious that "they have no business playing in the NFL"?

[***] Side note: The reason the Colts lost in Week One was because of the Texans' ability to dominate the line of scrimmage on offense. Duane Brown, now a known cheater, is a pretty important o-lineman for Houston. He was likely juiced for that game. Just sayin'.

OK, (a) they also won in Week 1 because the Texans’ defensive line spent more time in the Indy backfield than Indy’s running backs did. (b) Brad still has not provided even the slightest bit of evidence that Brown was "juiced" in such a way that he would have had an advantage. (c) He also failed to address the likelihood (a number higher than zero) that the players lining up opposite Brown were similarly enhanced. But, really, other than those three glaring flaws, it was a great article.

Retro Blog Entry, Week 3, 2004

It’s not that often you manage less than 300 yards of total offense, including a measly 76 yards rushing, and still put 24 points on the board (though such things become demonstrably easier when Marcus Coleman returns an interception 102 yards, I s’pose).

Yet that’s exactly what your Houston Texans did Sunday, beating the still-winless Chiefs 24-21. Let’s rundown the good, the bad, and the meco. [I have no idea what that means, but it seems vaguely relevant. –Ed.]

Good

  • Andre Johnson. I was pumped when this kid was drafted last year --- I tend to have a penchant for mutants, and 6-3/223 with that kind of speed is downright mutantastic --- and I have seen nothing yet that would lessen my mancrush.
  • Dunta Robinson. The rookie CB had 7 tackles, played decent coverage overall (though he was definitely targeted early and had some issues on third downs), and was solid in run support. It’s too early to say anything definite, but this looks like the kind of pick that could make Casserly look good down the road.
  • Kris Brown. Three for three on FGs, including the 49-yard game winner. I don’t think I’ll doubt him again in a game-winning situation.

Bad

  • Petey Faggins. Look, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see Faggins ever developing into the kind of player you can put in the starting lineup. Thankfully, I can’t imagine this team ever being that desperate, but it’s still worrisome.
  • Jonathan Wells. Ten carries for 37 whole yards?!? Be still, my beating heart! This is against a Chiefs team that gave up 192 rushing yards in week 1 and 183 in week 2. Great googly moogly! But, hey, at least he was somewhat better than…
  • Domanick Davis. Ten carries, 12 yards.

Other

  • David Carr. I … I just don’t know about Carr yet. I still say this is the year that he breaks 3,500 yards passing and has more TDs than INTs, but I just get the feeling that he’s the kind of guy who could easily take a team to 1-15 if the ball didn’t bounce just right.

Let Me Clear My Throat.

My buddy Paul is a lot like Rainman, if Rainman had a massive collective of music, a really awesome wife, and much less hair. I asked him to suggest some slightly obscure (at least for this audience) hip hop that he thought some of you might appreciate. Here you go:

First, we have Madvillain, "Rainbows."

Second, Paul recommends Dr. Octagon, "Blue Flowers."

For more of Paul's music recommendations and reviews, check out his website, Killed In Cars.

SUNDAY TXT MSGS.

From DisplacedTexan:

I haz a sad.

From Shake:

I have been drinking since I got home from the game in Austin yesterday.  This is not helping.

From Tim:

I look forward to your Hangover.  Not mine, of course, because it'll be filled with vomit, hate, confusion, hate, gender identity questions, and hate.  And gas.

Finally. 

Just before kickoff, grungedave sent along this picture:

Img_0050_medium

For those of you who think my platform of forced sterilization for Titans fans is too harsh, I refer you to that photo.  This person thought, "hey, I want a personalized jersey."  Then, rather than get his name, this white guy thought, "hmm...clearly I should get #16, as it is not taken by one of the real players, but what one word best encapsulates the me-ness of me?" 

THEN, he decided that the answer to that question was "GANKSTA."

1 I realize that, even under the Julian calendar’s intercalary years, a week was not lengthened. I know this. But, honestly, does that even matter when we’re talking about a football column written by someone who would trash talk Gregorian monks by referencing the Julian calendar in ebonic prose? Of course it doesn’t. So let’s move on.

2 To be fair, this is a reasonable assumption given whose cavern Miles Austin is currently spelunking.

3 Yes, I used that link and the entire blurb about it only to set up the joke at BFD's expense.

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