GAME TIME: Texans-Cowboys -- 5 Winners, 5 Losers
It's the preseason and we must remember that the Dallas Cowboys are making a return trip to Reliant Stadium in about a month, so let's not get crazy over what the Texans' 23-7 manhandling of the Cowboys on Saturday night means in the big picture.
Photo by Marco Torres Your face-painting will be in vain!
That said, if the Cowboys were trying to lull the Texans into some sort of false sense of security for the matchup in September by rolling over on Saturday night, they probably didn't need to take the ruse as far as they did -- 13 yards on 12 carries and a general ineptitude that had us all fondly remembering the Quincy Carter Era up in the press box.
So if the Cowboys and Texans went out of their way to keep things on a preseason intensity and "strategy disclosure" level (for lack of a better term), I will jump in line and do the same. In the non-fighting spirit of preseason football, here are five very generic winners and losers from this weekend....
1. ARIAN FOSTER FANTASY OWNERS. I've gotten hundreds of e-mails the last couple weeks from people asking for fantasy football advice because their drafts were all coming up before or during this past weekend. I like drafting right before the season starts so you have a clear picture on injuries, suspensions, who's smashing Kim Kardashian, etc. But if you drafted in August and you locked in on Arian Foster, you've got to be feeling pretty good after Saturday (18 carries for 110 yards). A no doubt number one back with lots of red zone chances. Should be a top 10 running back.
2. WADE SMITH. A couple weeks ago, the two guard spots along the Texans offensive line were a couple of revolving doors. Well, Wade Smith appears to have put a stop to one of those two doors, seizing the left guard spot. On Saturday, he looked athletic and looked like he had a great grasp on the Texans' scheme. In an offseason where Smith represented the Texans "splash" in free agency, it was important for Rick Smith that he got this one right. Looks like he got this one right.
3. THE CUSHING SUSPENSION ERA. The Texans first four games are going to be a grind without Brian Cushing. The good news is the two most talented opponents come to Reliant (Indy, Dallas); the bad news is the two less talented teams (Washington, Oakland) get to hang their hat on the "anything can happen when you go on the road" corollary. Well, now the quarterbacks for those two teams are both dinged up and may miss some time. I feel much better about the Texans' going on the road sans Cushing facing Rex Grossman and Bruce Gradkowski than I do their facing Donovan McNabb and Jason Campbell.
4. THE CITY OF CHICAGO. Either through a straight waiver pick-up or perhaps a trade the two teams work out, it appears the White Sox are about to pick up Manny Ramirez from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Much like any message of joy and hope, it's good to see the Mantra of Manny, which largely consists of blank stares, dreadlocks, and (until the league drug-testing policy caught up with his apparent desire to give birth) mashing at the plate, spread to another city. Cleveland, Boston, Los Angelese, now Chicago. It will be interesting to see what type of trouble Manny can get into as a regular DH, since he won't have to play left field. I'm half expecting a story of him wandering onto the Dan Ryan Expressway during a game. Manny is like a third grader with A.D.D. -- if you don't find shit for him to do, he'll find his own shit to do.
5. FANS WHO MISS THE BAD BOY DAYS OF UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI. Back in the day, the Miami Hurricanes were their own cottage industry, largely funded by rapper Luther Campbell. That era ultimately wound up with the program disgraced and downtrodden by the late `90's. Ironically, the guy who cleaned it up was Butch Davis, who was last seen watching chunks of the North Carolina football program crashing down around him. Or so we thought. Now comes news that former Miami booster (and now guest of the feds for running a Ponzi scheme) Nevin Shapiro is threatening to write a tell-all about the 2001-2010 Hurricanes, largely because the fellas on the teams he allegedly paid (Jon Beason and Devin Hester were named specifically) started ignoring him as soon as the NFL began paying them more. Hell hath no fury like a jock-sniff scorned.
Da U's got problems
1. KRIS BROWN. I've said all along that Neil Rackers would have to be significantly better than Kris Brown to get the job, and now I'm waffling a bit. Brown is battling injury now, and keeping Rackers is slowly becoming the more defendable pick for the Texans, especially in light of Brown's failures during last season. I just have a weird feeling Rackers is going to be the play here.
2. JOHN DAVID BOOTY. Gary Kubiak has made a pretty concerted effort this training camp and preseason to throw Dan Orlovsky out there and find out if he's the Texans' backup quarterback, to the point where Booty has seen no playing time the last couple games. Furthermore, Orlovsky has done a decent job when he's been in there. With the backup job appearing to be a lock for Orlovsky at this point, Booty likely will have to use the Tampa Bay game on Thursday as an audition for the other 31 teams, unless the Texans keep three quarterbacks (which they did last year).
3. RED ZONE WOES. For all of the success the Texans have had the last couple seasons and that they had on Saturday night, they still magically become the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they cross the opponent's 20-yard line. I don't know if it's play calling, execution, or a mental block (the truth is probably a combination of all three), but the Texans have to fix this if they're going to make the playoffs. This cost them multiple games last year. They have too many weapons to be flailing around in the red zone like this.
4. THE BENGALS. Probably everything you needed to know about the Antonio Bryant Era in Cincinnati was summed up with the signing of Terrell Owens. If you remember, before signing Bryant this past offseason to a $28 million deal ($8 million guaranteed), the Bengals also kicked tires on Owens. So after going through minicamp, OTA's and training camp like a lifeless turd, Bryant is replaced by the guy who the Bengals originally thought was not as good as Bryant -- Owens. I'm not sure whose soul got sold to the devil to get the Bengals to 10 wins last season, I guess we'll find out soon enough. No way that deal got renewed.
5. JAKE DELHOMME. Final add to this generic, preseason post. Check out Ndamukong Suh, Lions rookie and Rotary Lombardi winner from 2009, attempting to rip Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme's head from his torso.
Good to see exactly NONE of Delhomme's teammates step in and start something with Suh. If that happened to Matt Schaub, we'd be reading about Bernard Pollard's arraignment on murder charges against Suh today.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.