You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning.1 Or maybe you are. I don’t really know you, do I? I can’t even be sure that it is morning when you are, in fact, reading this. Though I suppose it is morning somewhere, but that’s a semantic distinction that is really irrelevant. Anyway, you are probably wondering just what fresh hell this is.
This is my new weekly post, which I have tentatively named The Two-Day Hangover. "That’s all well and good," you may be thinking, "but just who the hell are you?" That’s a fair question. I am MDC, aka Matt Campbell. From April 2006 through June 2009, I was the "brains" (I could not use that term more loosely) behind Da Good, Da Bad, & DeMeco (formerly at www.atexansblog.com). After that place went the way of the dodo and Steve McNair, I managed to convince Tim at Battle Red Blog to let me post over there from time to time. (I’m on a schedule similar to that of Haley’s Comet.)
As for what you can expect from The Hangover, I suppose the closest comparison I can give is ESPN’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback, though with 100% less anti-Semitic rants. The Hangover is, basically, a random assortment of rants and ramblings about all manner of things, from football to particle physics to old Simpsons episodes and anything else that I come up with. Ostensibly, though, this is a column about the Texans, so most of the bandwidth I use up will be to discuss various thoughts and theories about the team. Second to that will be jokes made at the expense of the other AFC South teams, the Dallas Cowboys, and possibly your mom.
So, with no further ado2, let’s crank up the C&C Music Factory because Here We Go (Let’s Rock and Roll).
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Fun With Small Sample Sizes.
In two games as a starter (including Week 17 last year), Arian Foster’s average line looks like this: 26.5 carries, 175 yards rushing, 6.6 yards/carry, 2.5 TDs, 2 catches, 16.5 yards receiving. If we include Week 16 last year, when he took over after an early Ryan Moats fumble, Foster’s average line is: 24 carries, 149 yards rushing, 6.2 yards/carry, 2 TDs, 1.3 catches, 11 yards receiving.
Kicking The Dead Horse.
Total number of 100-yard games (rushing), career: Arian Foster, 2; Reggie Bush, 1. Total number of 200-yard games (rushing), career: Arian Foster, 1; Reggie Bush, 0. Total number of 200-yard games (rushing and receiving combined), career: Arian Foster, 1; Reggie Bush, 0. Total number of second-overall draft selections wasted by their teams: Arian Foster, 0; Reggie Bush, 1.
Random Note on Child Rearing.
When you have a kid, there are many, many things that no one will bother to tell you. One such thing is that living with a two-year-old is like living with the most annoying drunk person you know. They talk non-stop about things that barely make sense; they are theoretically potty trained, but could crap their pants at any given moment; they get emotional and start crying if you won’t let them do something; and they will scream and throw things on a whim. Both also have a vague odor to them that is a piquant mix of whatever they last ate and pee.
At last, our long Nigerian nightmare may be over.
As an unabashed member of the pro-Amobi camp, I am admittedly biased. That said, can I get an "amen!" from the congregation about Okoye’s performance yesterday? Even beyond his five tackles, which was most among the d-linemen, I was impressed with Okoye’s quickness and his constant presence in the Colts’ backfield. State and federal law require that I now insert the obligatory reference to how Amobi is actually younger than Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh. At a position where the learning curve for a typical player is roughly three years, is it really that shocking that someone Okoye’s age might take slightly longer than that?
As the graphic on the broadcast showed yesterday, Mario Williams has more sacks of Peyton Manning than does any other player ever. His first half-sack yesterday gave him 40 for his career, and more of those (6) have come against Indianapolis than against any other team. After Indy, the teams Mario has sacked the most are Jacksonville (5), Tennessee (4.5), Miami (4.5), and Denver (3.5, all in one game). He has notched sacks against 19 different NFL teams and has had more than one sack in a game against eight teams (Miami twice, Kansas City, Tennessee, Denver, Pittsburgh, Indy, Jacksonville, and Seattle).
Bonus Mario-centric Note.
Mario has more career sacks (40.5) than Vince Young has career starts (40). Williams has fewer emotional meltdowns on his resume, however.
Whatever the flavor, Wade will have a double scoop.
After Houston stomped the Dallas Cowboys during the preseason, all we heard was how Dallas had intentionally run a "vanilla" offense and how the Texans were losers for actually gameplanning against a preseason opponent. Well, if that was vanilla, then last night’s loss to Washington must’ve been "chokeberry."
I took particular delight in Alex Barron’s game-losing gaffe, by the way. Back in 2005, when I was still living in St. Louis, I went to see the Rams play the Jags. This was Barron’s rookie season and people were already talking about him replacing Orlando Pace in a few years. That day, I saw Barron pull off the amazing trifecta of false start, holding, false start on three consecutive plays. It’s nice to be able to rely on certain things in life, and Alex Barron being a very poor NFL tackle is one you can take to the bank.
Did you realize that, not counting quarterbacks, the active leaders in yards per rushing attempt are (1) Chris Johnson; (2) DeAngelo Williams; (T-3) Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, and Jonathan Stewart; (6) Frank Gore; (T-7) Correll Buckhalter, Maurice Jones-Drew, and … wait for it … Derrick Ward. Yes, that Derrick Ward.
If it has a decimal, it must be SCIENCE!
Twice in the last 48 hours, I’ve heard someone refer to body mass index (BMI) as "the most reliable indicator of whether you are overweight." (For those who are not aware, BMI is defined as your weight, in kilograms, divided by the square of your height in meters. And for those who eschew the metric system, you can also use your weight, in lbs, times 703 divided by the square of your height in inches.) The idea seems straight-forward enough: if your BMI is above a certain number (25), you are overweight.3
Somehow, this thought has become conventional wisdom to the point that many online fitness and health programs include BMI calculators, and I have even heard health professionals reference it on more than one occasion. This is most unfortunate, as BMI is mathematically nonsensical and scientifically invalid. The concept was introduced in the early 1800s by a Belgian mathematician, Lambert Quetelet. He produced the formula to assist the Belgian government in allocating resources based upon the degree of obesity of Belgians at the time (due, in no small part, to their yummy waffles). However, to make his end result fit the data he was working with, Quetelet had to square the height. That is to say, there is absolutely no physiological reason that the height should be squared before it is compared with the weight, nor does squaring it make the result any more valid for measuring obesity --- Quetelet was simply rigging his formula so that it would match information he already had. It would be like me squaring the number of teeth of each Nashville resident before calculating the rate of meth usage. Moreover, because the end result was a number between 1 and 100 and had a decimal place, it had an air of scientific authority to it. 93.75% of people like that.
For whatever reason, despite the fact that the formula is based on faulty math and science (and to say nothing of how it does not account for the difference in weight between muscle, bone, fat, etc.), it continues to be applied today, 200-plus years later. Worse, it is grossly misused by insurance companies who justify higher health- and life-insurance rates for people with higher BMIs who may, in fact, be much healthier than persons with "normal" BMIs. If your insurance company was trying to hike your rates because a phrenologist said you were likely to become sick, you’d throw a fit. After all, feeling the bumps on my head can’t possibly tell you how healthy I am. Yet because BMI is never questioned, insurance companies get away with something similar every day.
Maybe we should have seen it coming.
In limited snaps prior to Week 16 last season, Arian Foster had done little in the running game to make anyone suspect that he was about to rip off 216 yards and three TDs on 39 carries over Weeks 16 and 17. He’d spent most of 2009 on the Texans’ practice squad, after all, and was only starting because injuries and Chris Brown’s lack of talent had forced Kubiak’s hand. Even after Foster’s solid two weeks, few if any people believed him to be the long-term answer at RB.
This perception was based, at least in part, on the fact that Foster had been an undrafted free agent in 2009 following his senior season at Tennessee, where he struggled during professional backstabber Lane Kiffin’s one-year attempt at the SEC. When Foster was injured at the Senior Bowl and had a limited Combine followed by a poor Pro Day showing, his draft stock plummeted, and he wound up undrafted. Here’s the thing, though: had Arian Foster gone into the NFL draft in 2008, he was definitely a second-round pick and could possibly have snuck into the late first round. Yet, in typical NFL fashion, scouts and evaluators let struggles under a new coach and poor stopwatch times (after an injury) trump what had previously been very obvious talent (nearly 1200 yards and 12 TDs as a junior).
While Foster’s is something of an extreme example, these occurrences are not all that rare in the NFL. Every year has at least one workout warrior whose few days in shorts no pads in Indianapolis somehow trumps what he did for three or four years in college, and every year has at least one guy from a big-time program who is penalized because he stuck around college a year too long (think Taylor Mays). In the crapshoot that is the NFL draft, I suppose a desire to base decisions in large part on measurables gives scouts and coaches a sense that they are basing their decision on something more than gut feelings. And in modern college football, where the gap between the talent in lesser conferences and the traditional powerhouses is not as big as it once was (at least at the top), maybe there is something to be gained from stacking players up against one another in timed drills whether than trying to decide if a big game against Montana State means as much as a big game against South Carolina.
At the same time, there comes a point where a guy’s body of work should speak more loudly than his Combine numbers, especially when that player is not 100% at the Combine. If you are 6-0/225, run a sub-4.5 40 (when healthy), and have rushed for 1200 yards in an SEC season, there is a pretty strong case to be made that you have the skillset to play running back in the NFL. You certainly have good enough odds of making an NFL roster to deserve a draft-day selection.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I was in the "let’s draft Foster" camp or even the "let’s activate Foster off the practice squad" camp last year. What I am saying is, if you look at what Foster did on the field at Tennessee, there was plenty of evidence that he could be a big, explosive every-down back, which is exactly what it looks like he is becoming now. We --- and, more importantly, the people who make draft decisions for thirty-two teams --- just weren’t looking.
Stump The Schaub.
Matt Schaub’s performance yesterday (9-15, 1 TD, 1 INT) included his fewest number of completions in any game in which he attempted at least 10 passes. His 15 attempts and 107 were the lowest in any game that he wasn’t knocked out early with an injury. His 67.5 rating was his lowest since week 1 of last year. Yet, despite all that, we won, and we won handily.
Maybe I was drunk at the time, but I seem to recall the conversation about the selection of James Casey including phrases like "an H-back like Cooley" and "could even run a Wildcat package" and (especially) "we’ll find a lot of ways to get him involved." Assuming I was not drunk, what the heck happened to that? Granted, the team from the Land of 1000 Tight Ends only completed one ball to a TE (welcome back, Owen!), and it’s not like we were flinging the ball around in typical Kubiak fashion. Still, I have yet to see anything that makes me think Casey is some kind of secret Swiss Army Knife that we have yet to open.
From The "We Told You So" Files.
After the Falcons signed Dunta Robinson, many Texans fans from Battle Red Blog went to Falcoholic and told them just how awful Dunta had been in 2009. Falcons fans did not want to believe this, however, and many offered either the mainstream media narrative of how good Dunta was or they claimed that Dunta wanted to get out of Houston and played accordingly. Yet, from The Falcoholic’s game recap for week 1:
I told you all to keep an eye on Dunta Robinson, but it's more likely you were covering them by the end of the game. Dunta got abused by Hines Ward on more than one occasion, and he just didn't finish some plays out. We were promised a return to form from a once-terrific cornerback, but the Falcons certainly didn't see that guy today. Cross your fingers for this one being a fluke.
Spoiler alert: It ain’t a fluke.
Say what you will about the NFL "cracking down" on hits on defenseless receivers, I think we can all agree that the personal foul call on Glover Quin for his hit on Reggie Wayne was complete crap. Quin did not lower his head and try to kill Wayne; he came in with more or less perfect form, hit his man hard, and, because of how Wayne landed, Quin’s helmet hit Wayne’s. There was no visible head-hunting intent, and had Wayne landed a second sooner or a second later, there’s not even a foul. Protecting defenseless players is one thing. Forcing defensive backs to ignore instincts and training and try to figure out of a receiver is going to land at the exact wrong moment is a completely different animal.
For next week:
Texans travel to the nation’s capital. I return with another post. The circle of life continues.
1 A "Bright Lights, Big City" reference in 2010? Timeliness for the win!
2 Coming next week, pop culture references that are less than 10 years old.
3 Some proponents of BMI will even tell you that it is BMI, not your weight, that really matters. Given that weight is the numerator of the equation, however, that’s not actually insightful.