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Monday, October 10, 2005

Pasquarelli: Capers' Seat Warming

A fair, but critical, assessment of the Texans' dire situation from one of ESPN's best writers.

Texas-sized problems

Honest, we're not trying to stoke the embers under Dom Capers' office chair. But in a week when Mike Tice got a respite from the hot seat, courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings' bye, the Houston Texans' coach had to feel the flames starting to lap up around him. As was noted in the "Tip Sheet" lead item on Friday, there really is little or nothing to be gained from firing a coach in-season. Interim and replacement coaches, the item noted, have an aggregate winning percentage of just .314 since 1970.

Houston owner Bob McNair, though, can't be happy with having his team seemingly in reverse in this fourth season of the expansion franchise's existence. Two weeks ago, reaching for a panic button a little early by anyone's standards, Capers dumped offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and replaced him with offensive line coach Joe Pendry. So, Dom, how's that move paying off? Well, the efficiency rating of embattled quarterback David Carr, a puny 47.8 in the two games Palmer was coordinator, is a respectable 85.6 under Pendry.

But Carr, who keeps insisting he feels more comfortable in the Pendry offense, keeps saying it while picking himself up. Sacked 13 times the first two games, he has been dumped 14 times the last two. And, say, isn't pass protection the bailiwick of Pendry, the offensive line coach?

The Texans have scored more points the past two games than they did in the first two (30-14), have more first downs (32-28) and lots more yards (511-341). But they've got just two offensive touchdowns under Pendry, the same number they had in two games under Palmer's stewardship.

The picture is nearly as bleak on the defensive side of the ball. Once upon a time, the Capers' 3-4 deployment used to create sacks and turnovers. Amazingly, Houston hasn't a single takeaway this season. And the Texans have only four sacks. Since the beginning of the 2003 season, the Houston defense has only 47 sacks, the fewest in the league in that period.

In his first time around as coach of an expansion franchise, Capers took the Carolina Panthers to the conference title game in only their second season, but was pink-slipped two years after that. This is his fourth year in Houston, and the Texans haven't so much as sniffed a winning record, let alone a playoff berth. That can't bode well for Capers' future.


Blogger Tim said...

If I were Dom and/or Casserly, I'd go ahead and put my home on the market. Might as well get a head start on moving the ol' homestead. No way either of those guys are here next season.

Mon Oct 10, 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I'm not so sure. McNair does not want the franchise to appear panicky or unstable. Cleaning house would set the franchise back several years potentially. I look for more subtle changes than those (assistants, roster, etc.)

Tue Oct 11, 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

I don't think the Texans look panicky for letting the coach and GM go after four years. Analysis of the Texans' draft picks (which I will detail in a later post) clearly shows that Casserly has missed far more than he has hit. Capers consistently looks clueless every game. Firing those two guys at the end of the season, barring a miraculous turnaround, is hardly reactionary. It's simply making them take responsibility for the team's shortcomings.

Tue Oct 11, 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

It's a little early to drill Casserly for Babin or Buchanan, though the early returns have been shaky at best. Both have been disappointing and should be watched with high scrutiny, especially Babin, but don't forget that Casserly's won multiple Super Bowls as a GM. I will say that using a #2 on Tony Hollings has unquestionably been a disaster. I will defer to your pending post on Casserly's draft results before delving deeper. There were certainly some misfires, but I'll be interested to see how you differentiate between the Texans' miscues in the draft and those by other, successful organizations.

Neither is Capers a moron. I'm thoroughly disappointed thus far, but the guy is a proven winner and the consummate professional. Progress is needed and needed quickly, but barring a 2-win or less season, I sincerely hope that he and Casserly return for 2006. His conservative style would work fine if the defense could win the field position battle, as the Texans' running game has been solid. Unfortunately, the offense is facing an uphill climb in every game, making its ability to control the clock less of a factor.

Tue Oct 11, 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Ted Bosquez said...

2006 versus the Cowboys looks better and better with each passing day - the Texans may not be the textbook example of how NOT to organize and run an expansion franchise - it is really a shame given the facilities, fanbase, and civic support that has been squandered for nearly half a decade. Change is a must, but where - simply stay with the coaching staff or look more at the braintrust of the organization which has failed the players and the fans.

Sat Oct 15, 04:45:00 PM  

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