GAME TIME: Texans-Saints -- 5 Winners, 5 Losers
I keep trying to tell myself that the results of the Texans' trip to New Orleans last week didn't really count. Texans fans everywhere (and my liver) seem to disagree.
Oh, what the hell...go ahead and panic.
New Orleans is one of a handful of places on earth that embodies the "too much of a good thing is a bad thing" corollary (call it the TMOGT label, for short), where after four days it goes beyond the returns being categorized as merely diminishing -- you actually feel yourself inflicting legitimate bodily harm on your own organs. (Las Vegas and any college town in the SEC footprint during the football season are other automatic qualifiers for TMOGT status, by the way.)
If nothing else, the Texans play on the field was a solid metaphor for four days in New Orleans being just about enough, because that's how they played on Saturday night. Randy McIlvoy asked John Harris and me on Sports Sunday if it was time to panic about the Texans. My answer, in effect, was "No, it's just the preseason." However, as we watched the carnage unfold in the French Quarter Saturday night, my friend Amy disagreed with my nonchalance and screamed -- "Of course, the game counts! It was TELEVISED!" She was dead serious. And she's a Texans season ticket holder. So who am I to argue? She's a paying customer.
So if it's on TV, it counts, and if it counts, then we must scorecard this thing. Winners and losers...here we go....
1. Backup quarterbacks everywhere. For the second game in a row, Texans backup Dan Orlovsky did some good things including his first touchdown pass of the preseason to rookie tight end Garrett Graham. He still makes a couple mistakes each time that can be drive killers and the difference in winning or losing a game, but he's been pick free this preseason and has looked a little more comfortable. (Matt Schaub still needs to stay healthy; we all know this.) On the other side of the ball, Chase Daniel looked like the second coming of Drew Brees, more than a little disturbing.
That said, Chase Daniel will never be totally "pick free"....
(And if you don't think I spent the whole second half of the game trying to figure out the best way to embed a Youtube video of Daniel's munching a booger into this blog post, then you don't know me real well. Also, I just turned 41 years old. I have issues. And a great job.)
2. Joel Dreessen. Owen Daniels gets the final check up on his knee this week from Dr. James Andrews (which for a tattered limb, to get the Andrews' blessing is more like a christening), so the assumption is he'll slide back into the starting lineup as soon as he's ready. That said, Dreessen has looked the part of starting NFL tight end throughout camp and was one of the bright spots in practices in New Orleans and the game on Saturday. For a team that's spent a bunch of draft picks on the tight end spot the last couple years, Dreessen has continued to progress from solid veteran to reliable starter.
3. Andre Johnson's knee. It will read as a fairly innocuous first and 20 play from midfield. "Andre Johnson 7 yard catch to NO 43 (Porter tackle)," but that tackle by Tracy Porter almost ended the Texans playoffs hopes before they could even start. On the tackle, which may or may not have been a dirty play depending on whom you talk to, Andre's left knee bent incredibly awkwardly and he got up limping. How the knee didn't sprain or tear is a minor miracle and further evidence that Andre Johnson might be a superhero.
4. Sammy's on Bourbon Street. If you're looking for a solid steak and lobster with an outdoor Bourbon Street vibe without having to pay crazy prices, I highly recommend Sammy's on Bourbon Street. Had a nice steak, baked potato, salad combo there on Friday night, courtesy of Nick Rinchiuso, owner of Nick's Place. Speaking of which....
5. Bartenders. ...the reason Nick was treating? Because the 1560 Secret Society showed up in full force at his bar back in Houston on Friday night to celebrate our station's third anniversary. Just a great night with a packed house. As soon as Nick heard about how full his bar back in Houston was, the immediate beneficiaries were me and Raheel Ramzanali (blackened chicken on a bed of red beans and rice, Raheezy's choice, in case you're wondering). I later reciprocated by buying Nick a cup of jumbalaya from a catering truck on Canal Street at 4:15 AM before we visited Chuck's Place across from our hotel (open 24 hours, Gravier Street, and a total dive, complete with "females of ill repute" playing slot machines near the front door).
1. Short people. Any of you sub-5 foot 6 people out there who thought that Trindon Holliday was going to strike a blow for equality of little people in the athletic workplace better think again. Or move to Canada, whichever is more convenient. Holliday had a disastrous homecoming with a game changing muff of a punt in the first quarter (which the Saints promptly turned into a 14-0 lead) and then botched a kickoff return on which he had to take a touchback instead of trying to break a big play. I mentioned last week in my practice report from Wednesday how Kubiak spent time during special teams specifically watching Holliday; you just can't have a return specialist on the roster with whom you have to worry about something as simple as catching the ball, thumb injury or no thumb injury, just because he has world class sprinter's speed. It's like a high maintenance chick whose only redeeming quality is big boobs...ultimately, you need a face, a body, some personality, and, um, some other traits. Figuratively, Holliday only has big boobs.
2. Manliness. When you think of the Saints, you immediately think of Drew Brees and the surgical fashion with which he will emasculate a defense; you don't think of Reggie Bush breaking tackles and running people over at the goal line. If the Saints first team beats your first team doing what they do best, so be it. But on the first drive, eight of the eleven Saints plays were runs, and they averaged over 5 yards a carry. They basically slapped the Texans around, or the Texans didn't really care. Or both. Either way, if it wasn't a shot to the pride of the Texans defense, something's wrong.
3. Vital statistics. People will point to the drastic 40/20 disparity in time of possession as an indicator of just how bad things were on Saturday night and that's fair, as is pointing at the play disparity of Saints 78, Texans 45. That said, my favorite statistics in terms of "we must win this battle" are turnovers, third down conversions, red zone efficiency. The Saints won the turnover battle 2-1 and both Texans turnovers came during the portion of the game that "mattered." The Texans were brutal on third down, converting one -- ONE -- the entire night. (The Saints were 8-16 on third downs.) Finally, the Texans actually converted two of three trips into the red zone into touchdowns, but even that wasn't good enough to top the Saints who were virtually automatic inside the twenty, converting four of five trips into touchdowns. Bad day.
4. The Astros. Even as poorly as the Texans played on Saturday, the good news for Bob McNair is that most of the fans are legitimately pissed off about it. Is the anger a bit misguided given that it's a "meaningless" preseason game, maybe. That's up for debate. But you can't argue that people care when the Texans suck. Half the people bitching about the Texans probably don't even realize baseball season is still going on. If the Astros suck and no one cares, do they really make a sound? Any Texans player who doesn't take kindly to the criticism needs to know that when people stop criticizing, it means they've stopped caring. And that's much worse. Ask Drayton McLane.
5. This fool on Bourbon Street. Watch my boy Raheel just school this guy in this Bourbon Street dance battle.
What...you don't think Raheel won?? Whatever.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 PM on the "Sean & John Show" and follow up on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.