Texans-Ravens: Four Winners, Four Losers
Sometimes it's good to shake things up a little bit. We sit here every Sunday night for the last three football seasons and it feels like invariably we wind up saying the same thing -- "same ol' Texans."
It just feels like home to the Texans' ox.
So this week, I took a trip to Chicago, and watched the Texans from the basement of my kids' home in Naperville (Owen Daniels, represent yo!). I figured even if the Texans lost, just watching somewhere else on a different television might stave off the Pavlovian "same as it ever was" response.
So there they were again, our scrappy bunch "battlefighting" like the "good kids" they are, a chance to go ahead in the fourth quarter. But in the end, the Ravens just made more plays.
Ravens 29, Texans 14.
Same script, different actors. Same post game sound bites, different road locker room. Same Pavlovian reaction, different television screen.
Same ol' Texans, different winners and losers (mostly). Here we go...
4. Tennessee Titans
As if losing the game wasn't a big enough kick in the teeth to the Texans, the Tennessee Titans took over first place in the division, appropriately enough, by doing exactly what they did for all of those years they were in Houston under the Oiler banner -- absolutely nothing. A bye week and the rest of the division soiling themselves were enough for Tennessee to open a crack of daylight at the top. Now we are set up for the latest pre-November "as close to a must win as you can have against a mediocre division foe" for the Texans. (Note: In my interactive preseason predictions -- updated here -- I actually had the Texans losing to the Titans, and beating the Ravens. Here's hoping I go 0-2 on those predictions.)
3. Texans' pass rush
First the good news: Even without Mario Williams, the Texans still found a way to bring all sorts of heat on Joe Flacco, through a combination of exotic blitzes and Connor Barwin, Antonio Smith and Tim Jamison beasting for various parts of the afternoon. This should bode well for next week in Nashville where Matt Hasselbeck's mobility is somewhere between that of Andre the Giant alive and Andre the Giant dead.
The bad (but not all that surprising) news: There's still a ton of stuff that needs to be fixed, mostly in pass coverage and stopping the run (more on one of those in "LOSERS"). In terms of priority, I think they've got it right. If the Texans' defense was post-Ike Houston, establishing a pass rush was the equivalent of restoring power. The defense has restored power, now it's time to reconstruct the buildings on Cornerback Avenue and Nose Tackle Boulevard.
2. Coach-on-coach violence
For the record, I loved the near-skirmish after the Lions and 49ers game yesterday afternoon, when Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh shook Lions head coach Jim Schwartz's hand just a little too hard, and Schwartz decided to chase him down and let him know about it. Let me make it clear -- the whole "coach hand shake" thing after games, if the league wanted to do away with it, I'd be fine with that. Now, if the league wanted to have coaches FIGHT after games, then I'd be REALLY fine with THAT.
By the way, the underrated role in the whole episode? The little dude with the wet mullet and goatee who looks like Kenny Powers's older, fatter brother trying to step in between the two coaches and yelling "WHOA WHOA WHOA..." Read his lips...
(Runner up, from a listener of mine @rights_of_bill on Twitter -- "the 49er lineman smiling while holding Schwartz back as if to say 'Child, please.'" Indeed)