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Monday, December 11, 2006

The Weekend from Hell

Andy Pettitte bails for the Evil Empire, apparently because the Astros were comfortable enough with the state of their current starting rotation that they felt that an additional $2M and a player option for 2007 was too hefty of a price to pay to retain a solid #2 starting pitcher (in addition to, more than likely, the pitcher who had the best ERA in MLB each of the past two season). Saturday night in DC, Tracy McGrady landed funny while defending a three-pointer and had to be taken straight to the locker room with back spasms. And then there's yesterday's event at Reliant Stadium, which I was forutnate enough to attend in person.

Theories abound as to why David Carr's option was picked up in early 2006, rendering the glorious thought of VY donning the Battle Red and Deep Steel Blue nothing more than a pipe dream. My personal belief, for what it is worth, is that Bob McNair told his football people that he did not want to start all over again at QB four years into the franchise's existence and that he believed in the first and only face of the franchise, David Carr. McNair first asked Dan Reeves and then (and most importantly) Gary Kubiak to confirm for him that David Carr was salvageable, and as we hear and read daily, there were plenty of reasonable excuses that could be made for David's lack of production during his first four years. Kubes, eager to please his boss and show his Midas touch with quarterbacks, agreed that there was enough to work with to keep Carr around, such that the #1 overall pick could be used to fill another of the Texans' gaping holes. Thus, VY was never an option for the Texans. That's how I think the story unfolded. But really, who cares at this point.

Then came Sunday, the 10th (ouch) of December, 2006. VY showed yesterday that miracles can apparently happen. A single player, without the benefit of any All-Pro caliber complementary players on his side of the ball, can make plays (in his rookie season, no less) that change the entire attitude of the franchise and win football games for an otherwise mediocre football team. The argument by Carr apologists for keeping Carr around as starting QB has generally been that he has not had a chance to succeed because the parts around him have not been properly put into place. That argument is inherently flawed, and VY's performance yesterday is Exhibit A. Quarterbacks that win championships in the NFL carry their teams on their backs. They do not come with a caveat that above-average talent will be required at every other offensive position in order for them to be successful. Instead, real NFL QBs raise the level of their teammates' play on their own. They do not require coddling, special circumstances or extra coaching. They simply have an innate ability to rise to the occasion, to put points on the board when their team need them most, and that's precisely what VY did at Madison High School, at the University of Texas and now for the Tennessee Titans. On several plays yesterday, when VY's receivers were covered, he released the ball on a downfield pass ahead of the receiver making a cut, allowing the team to move the ball downfield a considerable distance. Carr has NEVER done that on a consistent basis. Instead, Carr's only viable options in the passing game are guys who are wide-open in space, and since the Texans do not have five Jonathan Ogdens on their O-line, they cannot provide Carr with the ten seconds necessary for a Texans' WR to get five yards of space at least fifteen yards downfield.

It was clear to all of us who had the joy of watching VY play in college that he was a special player, but the Texans chose to go a different direction in the draft. Clearly, that was a mistake. All is not lost, as Mario shows signs of promise and the rest of the draft class has performed quite admirably upon being thrust into the lineup during their rookie seasons. The biggest problem now is two-fold, however: (a) Carr has not progressed, such that the starting QB slot will remain an issue heading into Season (FREAKING) Six; and (b) this year's draft and free agent class is not exactly brimming with strong candidates to replace him. Over the next few months, we will surely analyze each potential candidate to replace DC and argue which direction is best for the franchise, but none of them will provide the production, the buzz and the wins that VY is sure to bring to the city of Nashville for years to come.

Is all lost? Certainly not. However, the Texans cannot afford to miss another slam-dunk the next time it presents itself, and for the sake of its loyal fan base, I certainly hope that opportunity is soon because with each passing day, the dreams of "what might have been" hurt worse and worse. Remember, this time last year, the Texans were without Mike Flanagan, Mario Williams, Owen Daniels, Eric Moulds, DeMeco Ryans, Sage Rosenfels and Anthony Weaver, to name a few. The ball is in Rick Smith's court; the Texans need another 2006-type offseason in 2007. If Smith and his team can add another six starters this offseason, especially in the secondary, in the offensive backfield and on the defensive line, the team will continue to grow, and success will come sooner rather than later. VY would certainly have been nice, but he's not coming anytime soon, and beating him twice a year will now have to become our saving grace. I'm personally excited to see how this new regime handles itself during the offseason, and if they continue the trend of last season's draft and free agent period, beating VY could come sooner than the rest of the nation would have you think.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Stracy said...

I couldn't have scripted a better outcome on the field. My only disappointment was in VY's display beyond the end zone after his INCREDIBLE game winning, virtually solo touchdown scamper, though. This time I will chalk it up to "youthful indiscretion" and the special circumstances of this hometown hero being passed up by the Texans. Message to VY: How many video clips can you find of EARL spiking the ball after scoring TDs ??? NONE! He knew he would be back very soon to score again and again. Please gain some maturity in this respect so that I can add my voice to the rest of the Longhorn Nation in cheering ALL your accomplishments!

This Houstonian, and Longhorn Grad (1970 - who was there during the 30 game Royal winning streak!) has never been much of a fan of the Texans - starting with the name (used before) and logo (too much like the Chicago Bulls logo!) But I was hoping that they would draft VY and make me a diehard, screaming FAN. Otherwise, if they decided to keep Carr, the next logical pick was Bush, so that Carr could hand off to him and not suffer so many sacks. (Did the Texans' management watch the SAINTS vs Cowboys Sunday night?) Or, at the least, add a quality blocking offensive lineman to protect Carr. But NO! They lost the opportunity to get me excited about the team with the pick of Mario Williams, who may turn out to be a force in the future, but who was embarrassed by VY in the game (See Carlos Antonio Rios' GREAT Sunday Houston Chronicle photo of VY skipping past an off balanced Williams in the first quarter.) Anyway, I am now rooting for VY and all the Titans EXCEPT for the owner!

Over and out! - Stracy

Wed Dec 13, 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you summed up the feelings of 97% of UT grads, Stracy. Thanks for the comment.

I don't think there was a person watching that game who had watched VY's career at The University who didn't know what the outcome would be once the game went to overtime. Vince's ability to win games is just uncanny. But despite the potentially historic draft blunder made by the Texans, I still can't bring myself to support anyone associated with Bud Adams except for VY.

These are dark times for Texans fans, but the team has improved since last year. I'm just praying that the sun (or Brian Brohm) comes out tomorrow (or in April).

Thu Dec 14, 09:13:00 AM  

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