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It seems that all of the Texan watching blogs in Houston have been navel gazing this week, and I probably should add myself to the list.

I'm certain that those outside of Houston wonder why this season is so hard on us. We should be used to being a football team that loses more than it wins by now, right? But this year has been particularly hard.

With the exception of the very first game of the season, the Texans have had a legitimate chance of winning every single game they'd played this year. And the losses have been painful. Let's look at them:

Sun. Sept. 27 JAGUARS L 24-31
Down by a touchdown, with 2:54, Schaub completes a one yard reception in the end zone to Dreessen, which is nullified by a pass interference call and a ten yard penalty. Two plays later, at 2:11, Chris Brown fumbles the ball on the one yard line, Jacksonville recovers and runs out the clock.

Sun. Oct. 11 @ Cardinals L 21-28
Down by a touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter (does this sound familiar?), the Texans mount an impressive drive to Arizona's six yard line for a first down. They make it to the one on first down. They spend the next three downs trying to make a touchdown. Arizona holds, and the Texans again lose the game by a yard.

Sun. Nov. 8 @ Colts L 17-20
After winning three games in a row and going to Indianapolis with a 5 and 3 record, the Texans and their fans were feeling very good about their chances in this game. Things weren't looking so good in the first half, though. Indianapolis was up 17-0, but the Texans were driving. With 2:11 to go in the half, Ryan Moats dropped the ball around the one foot line. It was ruled out-of-bounds. Instead of hurring up and getting a new play off before a challenge could be made, the Texans let the two-minute-warning hit, allowing the Colts plenty of time to review the play and decide to challenge it. The ruling on the field was overturned and the Colts got the ball. At this point, though, the Texans came alive. Defense held, and the Texans got the ball back in time to kick a field goal. The second half was completely different than the first. Texans scored two touchdowns, holding the Colts to just a field goal. In the waning second of the second half, kicker Kris Brown lines up to kick the game-tying field goal. It was wide right. Colts win.

Mon. Nov. 23 TITANS L 17-20
After losing the heartbreaking Colts game, the Texans fans (and I suppose the team) had two weeks to get ready for the Monday Night game against the Titans. The Texans had won the previous matchup earlier, but it was a brawl. The energy in the stadium was tense, the fans were drunk and crazy. We wanted a win. The game was vicious and rough and nasty. Our seatmate, Chuck, was plowed, and Graham wasn't feeling very well. The first half ended in a 14-14 tie, and the tension mounted. Both teams scored field goals in the third quarter. With a few minutes left in the game, Graham started feeling awful, and we started leaving the stadium. We watched Tennessee kick a field goal with 52 seconds left in someone's tailgating set up in the parking lot. We "watched" the rest of the game on our cell phones and were unsurprised when, exactly like last week, down 17 to 20, Kris Brown missed a 49 yard field goal. For the rest of the week, we'd hear debate about whether or not the Head Coach should have gone for more yardage to give his shaky kicker (he'd already missed one this game) a better chance.

Sun. Nov. 29 COLTS L 27-35
Having lost two heartbreakers in a row, six days later we were back in the stadium. Graham bowed out, letting Liv go in his stead. The mood in the stadium was confident. We're a Good Team, dammit. And, for the first half, the Texans didn't disappoint. By halftime, we were up 20 to 7. And then it all fell apart. I don't even know what happened, but the Colts scored 21 points in the fourth quarter alone, and Matt Schaub had three turnovers. I think the final score was 35 to 27.

The moaning and groaning on the train home with all of the other frustrated fans was probably the best part of the game.

I was there for three of these five losses. I have only seen the Texans win once this year, a game against San Francisco. (The Texans also did win an Oakland game at home earlier this year, but Graham and I were in Wisconsin.)

And the frustrating part of all of this is this is a good football team. Matt Schaub is the third leading passer by yardage in the league, behind Payton Manning and Tom Brady. Andre Johnson is the fourth ranked receiver in the NFL. Brian Cushing has the fourth most tackles in the NFL in his rookie season. Our tight end Owen Daniels, who probably would have gone to the pro-bowl, had a season-ending injury in the first Indianapolis game.
The team is 8th in total offense, 17th in total defense. And sure, there are weak spots. There are problems in the secondary, and apparently the defensive coordinators have never heard of the term "blitz". The offensive line took quite a hit when two of its veterans got hurt earlier this season, and our main running back has a fumble problem.

But the problem seems more fundamental than any of the individual weaknesses. When this team plays well, it's utterly wonderful to watch. They seem almost unstoppable, on both sides of the ball. That first half on Sunday, for example, was just beautiful, especially given that the Colts are thus far undefeated this season. But they can't seem to keep it together for a full 60 minutes of football. They either decide to play too late to catch up or they get comfortable and let the other team come back.

Four weeks ago, when we were five and three, people were considering us to be a legitimate playoff contender. Now, I think we're still technically in the hunt, but we'd have to win all five of the rest of the seasons' games and get a lot of help from other teams. But more fundamentally, I don't think we deserve to go to the playoffs. We don't play consistently, and it's hard to point at any one individual on this. Yes, the kicker can be looked at pointedly over the two missed game-tying field goals. But, the rest of the team got us into a position where we needed him just to stay in the game.

I've been a Texans season ticket holder since the inception of the team. I've been through plenty of bad times with the Texans. But this year seems different, almost worse than that 2-14 season back in 2005, because they've got so much potential and no one on staff seems to know how to use it properly.

And I think it's a leadership problem. I think that our team goes with what is comfortable, safe like hiring from within to take over the defensive coordinator position at the beginning of the year. Like choosing to stop the clock and kick the field goal against the Titans instead of remembering that we have the fourth best wide receiver in the league and going for the win. And yes, the coaching isn't necessarily responsible for a situation where the fullback drops a perfectly thrown pass into no coverage on first and ten, but mistake after mistake after mistake begins to add up, and we begin to look around for who is in charge of this debacle.

I've heard that Bill Cower says he'd be interested in taking on this team. It'd be expensive, but I think that Kubiak probably is aware that there's a massive target on his head and if he doesn't turn this team around, quickly, it's going to be a vastly different team and leadership style we see next year.



( 1 comment — Say something )
Dec. 2nd, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
When I've been able to watch the Texans on t.v. out here, I've been on the edge of my seat, hoping that they'll hold on and win. And I want them to win because so much of my childhood was spent rooting for the Oilers with my Grandfather and I know that if he were around today, he'd be a huge Texans fan (and probably cursing up a storm at the Titans aka "the flaming Tumbtacks.")

I think that if the Texans don't get a wild card slot and/or end the season under 500, Kubiak will be gone. If management does go after Bill Cower and gets him, the Texans will be a VERY interesting team to watch.
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