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Deep in the heart of a Texan

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As promised, here is my Q & A with Tim, of Battle Red Blog. One of the exciting parts of being in this network is discovering new, talented writers. I've only been reading Tim's stuff for a couple of months, but it's always insightful, entertaining and, most of all, well written.

As always, thanks to Tim for participating in our Q & A. You can check out my answers to his questions here.

  • The Texans' season seemed to have so much promise. Yet after a 2-0 start, they sit at 4-5. What happened? What were some turning points? Given the quality of the rest of the AFC South, can this season be salvaged?

Turning points abound, so let me throw the high (read:  low) points at you:  (1) Steve McKinney was lost to a season-ending injury in Week Three.  I knew he was a better run blocker than Mike Flanagan, but I had no idea how much McKinney's absence would affect the running game.  The Texans haven't run the ball with anything resembling consistency since McKinney went down.  (2)  Andre Johnson hasn't played since Week Two.  I thought this would cripple the team, but surprisingly, other WRs have stepped up.  Still, you don't lose a talent like 'Dre and not take a couple of steps back.  (3)  The Schaub has gotten the snot beaten out of him fairly regularly since Week Three, thanks in large part to the left side of the OL underperforming.  Schaub's condition took a decided turn for the worse when he got his bell rung on a late hit at San Diego by Drayton Florence (who I will kick in the pills if I ever see), but he shouldn't have even been out there for that.  (4)  Petey Faggins.  No further explanation, except to say that he definitely "happened" to this team.  (5)  Ahman Green allegedly got nicked in Week One and has missed more games than he's played with a mysterious knee ailment that has us thinking sobering thoughts of Domanick Davis-Williams-Jones-Smith-Shazaam.  (6) Some truly puzzling coaching decisions related to clock management and personnel.  See, e.g., Petey Faggins.

As to whether the season can be salvaged, I respond with a resounding "Hell, yes!"  Anyone not under the influence of Elmer's Glue and/or kin to the coaching staff knew the Texans weren't bound for the playoffs this year.  Improvement is still the name of the game, and my very reasonable preseason prediction of 8-8 is still well within reach.

  • Last season, David Carr completed 68 percent of his passes, with 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. This year, Schaub is on pace to complete 68 percent of his passes, with nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. What is the difference between Matt Schaub and David Carr? Why can't the Texans have success at the quarterback position? If the answer is the line, why can't they build a good line?

Sweet Mariah...don't tell me you just used some numerical voodoo to imply that Matt Schaub=David Carr.  We have thousands upon thousands of words at BRB as to why Zoolander should not be under center for any NFL team, and I'm getting red just thinking about it.  In the interest of brevity, I'll just say this:  David Carr's completion percentage last season was largely the result of him hitting the checkdown on nearly every passing play; Schaub actually goes through his progressions, looks downfield, and makes plays.  Take a look at Carr's average yards per completion last year versus The Schaub's this year.  With regard to the INTs, Schaub has made some poor throws in the red zone; there's no denying that.  There's also no denying that Carr would have thrown 25 INTs last year if (a) he ever looked more than five yards down the field and (b) hadn't been completely stripped of the right to do anything but hand off for the last half of last season.  While it's far too early to state whether Matt Schaub will be a success in Houston, Matt Schaub will be a success in Houston.  Remember--for all intents and purposes, he's still in the middle of his rookie season as a QB in the NFL.

The much-maligned offensive line was not nearly the problem Carr's apologists made it out to be.  Make no mistake:  There's ample room for improvement, and I fully expect management to continue to add pieces this offseason.  But they're not why David Carr played poorly in Houston.  David Carr was why David Carr played poorly in Houston.  Well, that and Charley Casserly.

  • In 25 career games, Mario Williams has 8.5 sacks. Meanwhile, in 25 career games, Chicago's Mark Anderson has 16.5 sacks. By the way, he was drafted in the fifth round. Please explain why drafting Mario Williams No. 1 was the correct move for the Texans to make.

Dear God...really?  Again, I refer you to my multiple tomes on the subject at Battle Red Blog and H-Town Sports.  But the reasoning behind the pick is really pretty simple.  The Texans didn't take Vince Young because Kubiak thought he could win with David Carr, which is analagous to me thinking I can fly.  That decision would haunt me much more if the Texans hadn't rectified that mistake with the acquisition of Matt Schaub.

With regard to passing on Reggie Bush, I believe the reason was twofold.  First, the Texans thought (foolishly, as it turned out) that Domanick Davis would be ready to play in 2006.  Thus, RB wasn't a huge priority.  Factor in that Gary Kubiak came from the Denver system of plugging a corpse in at RB and watching him rush for 1,000 yards, and the idea of passing on Reggie Bush makes even more sense.  Additionally (and this doesn't get near the publicity that it should), Bob McNair was adamant that he wanted a contract done with the No. 1 pick before the draft.  Reggie Bush's contractual demands allegedly called for him to own NASA, which the Houston brass quickly realized meant a deal wasn't getting done before the draft.  So the team moved on to Super Mario, who was much more amenable to doing a deal similar to what the Texans proposed.  That's the business side of it.

On the football side of it, I do believe that the team realized that drafting a DE who could pressure Peyton Manning for the next ten (10) years would be a swell idea.  And I think the Texans, like many teams, had real doubts as to whether Reggie Bush could be a workhorse RB in the NFL.  In other words, I think there were enough questions about Bush and enough positives about Super Mario to justify the pick.  Two (2) years later, I still believe that.  

  • The Texans are missing four defensive backs against a team that l-o-v-e-s to throw. How do they plan on shutting down the Saints' passing game?

Honestly, I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell that the Texans' depleted secondary shuts down Brees & Co.  He's going to light us up like a Christmas tree.  Our only prayer, as I see it, is that Brees forces a throw or three and we get lucky with a turnover.  I think this one is going to be a shootout.

  • Andre Johnson is an absolute freak of nature; the Saints will surely focus on eliminating him from the Texans' offense. If they are successful, to whom will Matt Schaub look as a receiver? In other words, who, besides Johnson, should Saints fans worry about this week?

'Dre has missed the last seven (7) games, which has allowed Schaub to develop a bit of a rapport with the other WRs that he might not have otherwise had.  In that respect, Andre Johnson's absence might have actually improved the Texans' offense in the long haul.  If I was a Saints fan, I'd keep an eye on three (3) guys:  (1) Kevin Walter (who has become a totally legitimate receiving threat in 'Dre's absence; he's already got 43 catches and is averaging 12.7 YPC); (2) Andre' Davis (quality deep option who becomes WR No. 3 with 'Dre's return); and (3) Owen Daniels (very talented pass-catching TE who is the team's second-leading receiver).  The strength of this offense is through the air, and I fully expect the Texans to utilize all these guys on Sunday.