H-Town Sports

Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Monday, October 16, 2006

It was, however, exactly as I predicted....

A few opening words: my proverbial hat goes off to the faithful fans of the Houston Texans who braved rather poor weather to travel in respectable numbers to “The Dump” (aka Texas Stadium). I freely admit that on average fans of the Houston Texans are without a doubt much more loyal and knowledgeable than the usual assortment of Dallas Cowboys Johnny-come-lately fans. Should my Cowboys make a playoff run this year, I will have nothing but utter disgust for the bandwagon fans that will inevitably come out of the shadows to support “their” team.

Now, as the only Dallas Cowboys fan associated with this fine blog, I offer my commentary to this discussion. I am not going to gloat about the victory. I expected to win. I expected to win big. To the rational observer, the Dallas Cowboys were the superior team. The result is exactly what the free world anticipated. For my own part, I viewed this game in much that same manner that I would when I expect a dominating victory from the Texas Longhorns over the Baylor Bears or Rice Owls of this world.

I believe that the Houston Texans have some very talented young players and an excellent coach who will make this team a playoff team in the near future, but the current team, as a whole, is not currently to the point where anyone rationally can believe that they will win games against quality teams. Of course, it is just a matter time, but that time has not yet arrived. Having said my piece, I offer the following observations from this past Sunday:

(1) The Houston Texans have a terrible interior on their defensive line and aside from a maturing Mario Williams; they may among the worse defensive lines in the AFC. Travis Johnson and Seth Payne (prior to his injury) combined for a total of 3 tackles in yesterday’s loss. It would be one thing if the Texans were facing the Texas Tech Red Raiders (for one thing, the Texans might have won) who are not likely to force the run, but the Dallas Cowboys rushed the ball 37 times. The defensive line had opportunities to make stops in the running game, but did not. In fact, they largely failed in their responsibility to tie the offensive linemen up, thus freeing the linebackers to make plays.

DeMeco Ryans finished the game with 9 tackles and 1 sack (well on his way to AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors), but Shantee Orr and Marlon Greenwood combined for a total of 4 tackles (3 solo). They were complete non-factors in the game. I could not tell if it is entirely the fact that the defensive tackles can not consume blocks or if they simply have no feel for the position, but it is quite possible that it may be both. The Texans secondary, in contrast, finished with 29 tackles. Julius Jones averaged nearly 5.0 yards per carry and Marion Barber finished the contest pushing the boundaries of 6.0 yards per carry. That simply will not get the job done.

Mario Williams was very active during the course of the day with a couple of hurries and 6 tackles, but he could be much more effective if the Texans could field a defensive line that did not allow, by virtue of little to no talent in the other players, offensive coordinators to double and block down on Williams or alternatively put tight-ends on that side to smother him. His future development will be largely affected by the Texans ability to make blocking schemes more honest.

(2) David Carr had a solid day in the first half, but to say he was spectacular or great is not accurate. He averaged a whopping 4.7 yards per attempt. The majority of his throws were short timing patterns that, in essence, substituted for the Texans running game (much in the manner that Texas Tech uses its 4 to 7 yard routes to simulate a running game). I will say that his decision-making and release has improved greatly since last year. The Cowboys pass rush did collapse the pocket on him many times, but by virtue of a short drop and a quick release, the defensive lineman and/or blitzing linebacker or safety had little more than a 2 to 3 second window to get to him. He saved himself from taking hits and giving up field position by making a read (right or wrong) and gunning the ball as soon as possible.

If you combine short drops, quick developing routes underneath, and a quick release, you end up with few opportunities for sacks. However, if not for the fact that the Cowboys defenders tackled very well (especially among the linebackers and safeties) many of those short routes could have gone for greater gains. Such an offensive game plan may not win a lot of ball games, but it is better than the alternative – actually trying to run the ball with that backfield. I heard on the radio this morning that it may be a good idea to scrap the running game and move back to the Run and Shoot. There may be some wisdom to this.

For my own part as a Cowboys fan, I was amazed that the Texans did not attempt to go vertical with their passing attack especially to Moulds covered with Anthony Henry (a very solid defender and tackler, but not a potential Pro-Bowler like Terrence Newman) who had Patrick Watkins in safety support. Watkins, though playing well this year, is a rookie. He probably would be the only person on either side of the field (save Phillip Buchanan) to bite on a play-action with the Texans running game as the bait. I think that if the Texans took several shots at him at least one would have gone for a big play.

(3) The Texans running game is shockingly bad. I felt that the Texans offensive line did a very good job in pass protection, but they struggled mightily in the running game especially given that neither Ron Dayne nor Samkon Gado can make anyone save Drew Bledsoe miss with their first move. It was a tough matchup. Lest we forget though the Cowboys are not the sackmasters of the NFC, they are the 6th best defense in the NFL and the best against the rush allowing a meager 67.0 yards per game. In our two losses this year, the Jaguars managed 78 yards and the Eagles managed just 52 yards in their contest.

The last three drafts have greatly strengthened the Dallas Cowboys front seven providing several excellent players and a good deal of depth both at the defensive end and linebacking positions. If the Cowboys defensive front seven is thin anywhere, it is at the nose tackle spot, but the position is currently anchored by a block-eating Jason Ferguson. The Texans were doomed from the start with regards to the running game. To have expected otherwise would have been foolish.

(4) The Dallas Cowboys won despite Drew Bledsoe. I defended Bledsoe last year. He had a very respectable season (finishing 8th in the NFL for passer rating), but he has been rather poor this year. He really has little excuse. He has a very nice receiving corps with Terry Glenn and “Texans Killer” Owens as his primary wide receivers and Patrick Crayton as an excellent 3rd receiver. He has two solid passing-catching tight-ends in Jason Whitten and Anthony Fasano and finally a respectable ground game with Julius Jones and Marion Barber. Cowboys’ fans have been waiting for four years to have a running game that could force defenses to play their offense honestly. The Dallas Cowboys are currently 3rd in the NFL in rushing trailing only the Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers.

Given this situation, Drew Bledsoe has all the talent around him to be having a career year. He is not. On the first touchdown, Owens saved Bledsoe from one interception by pushing off on the defender and stealing a touchdown. In a later touchdown, Owens fought through double coverage to secure a poorly thrown ball from the Texans corner and safety. He overthrew open receivers all day and had the pocket presence of a corpse.

The Cowboys faithful are becoming impatient. Bledsoe will retain his starting spot, but a considerable number of Cowboys fans are increasingly pushing for Parcells to give Romo a shot. I want to see what the kid can do. I find it highly unlikely that Bledsoe will be back next year and if that is going to be the case, I want to evaluate Romo in the regular season in meaningful game time and determine whether he can be an NFL starter or if the Cowboys will need to find free agency money to secure a veteran quarterback.

(5) For the majority of the second half, I had this tune running in my head especially as my fine Texans friend to my right had his head buried in shame rubbing the wool hat upon his head as to wonder whether it was his lot in life to suffer. It was this catchy sort of tune from the website of one of the Dallas Cowboys … some guy named Terrell … that went “I’m back and I’m better than ever.” I stand by Terrell Owens. I make no issue of it. I make no apologies.

Of course, when rumors began spreading through the websites about his potential signing, I was nervous given my anger from the “Star Incident,” but once he was signed, I decided to give him a fresh start. I even went so far as to read his book. I agree with the following assessments of him: (1) he is egotistical (2) he is hard pressed to keep his mouth shut (3) he lacks tact and (4) he is moody with erratic emotional swings.

However, I further agree with the following: (1) he plays hard and in pain (2) he has never been convicted of beating his girlfriend or his wife or alternatively been accused or convicted of any manner of drug or alcohol offense (3) and he was never present at a party boat fiasco, shoved an official to the ground, used his helmet as a weapon, or witnessing and/or participating in a murder [thank you, Ray Lewis and Rae Carruth]. What is his sin? He got into public fights with two of his former quarterbacks. He became embroiled in a mess over his contract and free agency status. He dances with pom poms on the odd occasion.

He is not a model citizen. He is not the perfect teammate. However, he is not the pariah that the media has made him to be. Why in all that is holy would a story about TO having a disagreement with his receivers coach be on the CNN front page alongside a possible nuclear testing in North Korea, further border conflicts in the Kashmir region, the Amish community trying to heal after the school killings, and talks about resurgent recruiting in Southeast Asia by Islamic extremist groups? I, for one, was very happy to see him have a fine game this past Sunday. He deserved it.

Best wishes, city of Houston – I look forward to the next installment of the Houston Texans and America’s Team, my Dallas Cowboys.

1 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

Ted, you'd defend the Son of Sam if he wore blue and silver. Jesus.

That said, this was a far more reasonable post than I anticipated. Good work and congratulations. The Texans shall win the rubber match in 2010.

Mon Oct 16, 05:15:00 PM  

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