Houston Texans Game 1 -- 4 Winners, 4 Losers
Yesterday was a great day. The NFL season kicked off, the Texans were at home and the weather was an unseasonably cool 96 degrees in Houston, perfect tailgating weather if you can deal with pit stains and butt sweat.
Photo by Marco Torres
Oh, and the Texans beat the Colts in the opener for the second year in a row. Also, some out there are printing playoff tickets for the second year in a row.
While I'm cautiously optimistic about the season based on the "they took care of business" and "so that's what pressure on the quarterback looks like" corollaries, allow me to make a suggestion -- the healthy outlook on the season is to chalk yesterday up as a Rusty Smith-type situation (Titans' quarterback during the Texans' only solid defensive effort last season) and wait until after Week 3 against Drew Brees to make a more informed evaluation of our hometown team.
Now onto some winners and losers:
1. Mario Williams
I was as critical as anybody of Mario's performance during the preseason, going so far as to call him an "elephant on roller skates" in my Texans season preview. Well, apparently Mario is still pretty good at doing edge-rusher type things, especially when the Colts try and block him with Dallas Clark. Mario had two sacks and looked very comfortable.
So if I can try and wrap my admittedly non-X-ey-and-O-ey brain around all of this, last year Mario's bread and butter was largely his attempt to rush the passer; this season Mario's bread and butter will largely be his attempt to rush the passer. The only difference is that this year, he's standing up as opposed to doing it from a three-point stance, and in exchange for this "difference" we have to call him a linebacker instead of a defensive end.
Um, okay. I'm cool with that. (Translation: It turns out Mario is pretty much doing the same shit and all of this "linebacker" angst is much to do about nothing.)
It's like that scene in The Office where Michael tries to recruit his fellow coworkers to join in a long-distance calling-card scheme that a buddy of his started.
Jim asked, "How is this not a pyramid scheme?" Michael explained, "No, you see if I recruit three people, and they recruit three people..." Eventually Jim just drew a triangle around all of it basically showing Michael that you can call it whatever you want, but it's still a pyramid scheme. Well, how is Mario Williams not a defensive end? Basically, it turns out you can call Mario whatever you want, he's still a defensive end.
2. Texans special teams
The difference last season between six wins and ten wins for the Texans largely boiled down to two things -- the historically atrocious defense and return units that never gave the Texans' offense favorable field position or a spark. Well, the game yesterday opened with a big return from newcomer Danieal Manning setting the Texans up near midfield, and the knockout blow/punt return for a touchdown just before halftime by Jacoby Jones. As much as people surmise what may have been "if the Texans just had an average defense," same goes for "if they just had average return units." Good day for Joe Marciano's group, well above average.
3. NFL Week 2 gamblers
Yes, the Colts looked terrible in Week 1, and yes, Kerry Collins appears to be bringing the energy of a nursing home Bingo game, but can someone who sets lines in Vegas tell me exactly what the Cleveland Browns have done to earn the right to be favored by a field goal in Indy next week? Was it the way the Browns lost in Week 1 to a Bengals team that everyone has destined for a top three pick in the 2012 draft? Or perhaps Colt McCoy's 2-7 career record as a starter? I don't get it. (Which, of course, means that the Browns will win by three touchdowns on Sunday.)
4. The guy who types up the NFL injury report each week
I have a former boss who had an old saying -- "The only thing worse than being underpaid is being overpaid." Well, if that's the case, then the dude who has to compile the injury report for the NFL should feel very secure in his job. Sam Bradford, Eric Berry, Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, Jon Beason, Nate Kaeding, Luis Castillo, Marques Colston, Kevin Walter and I know I'm missing some more. These in addition to the Arian Foster updates which we will get pounded with this week -- NFL Injury guy is earning his keep.