Texans/Titans -- 4 Winners, 4 Losers (Including Tim Tebow)
Sometimes, it takes a matter of a few weeks, like with the Kansas City Chiefs. After being outscored 89-10 the first two weeks of the season, the Chiefs were left for dead, Todd Haley was the chalk for every "first coach fired in 2011" wager and Andrew Luck was probably working Photoshop to see what he would look like wearing a "Chiefs 12" jersey. Four weeks later, they're 3-3 and prepping for a Monday night game with the Chargers for first place in the AFC West.
Sometimes, it takes one game, like with the Texans. After two straight losses where they couldn't move the ball on the ground and where the injury bug continued to crush them, it took 60 minutes on Sunday for the Texans to get their mojo back, and in turn, regain the trust of the fans that this could be the year they finally play in the postseason.
Let's recap yesterday's winners and losers:
4. The "this could be the year" crowd
While the injury bug that has bitten the Texans is a little perplexing (Foster for the first three games, Andre Johnson, James Casey, Mario Williams, now Danieal Manning), it's not something the team can use as an excuse, especially when you see the way the AFC South and the Texans' schedule are unfolding as the season goes along. Right now, the Texans share a division with teams whose starting quarterbacks are Matt Hasselbeck, Blaine Gabbert and Curtis Painter. The catch-all caveat that comes with predicting the fate for any NFL team is "assuming [fill in quarterback name] stays healthy" (see Colts, Indianapolis), but the fact of the matter is that Matt Schaub could get hurt and the Texans would still have, worst case, the second-best starting quarterback (Matt Leinart) in the division.
As for the injuries, Johnson should be back soon enough as should Casey. Manning's injury is a bit of a setback in the secondary, but he could be back in as few as four weeks, which means he'd miss two Jacksonville games, the Cleveland game and the Tampa Bay game (with the bye week mixed in). The Texans should be able to lock down those teams with Archie Manning at safety. By the way, the combined records of the Texans' nine remaining opponents? 22-36.
So yeah, "this could be the year." Actually, if this isn't the year, we should have to forfeit the team to Los Angeles.
3. Arian Foster
After the run game stalled the past two weeks, we had started to hear grumblings that Foster wasn't the same dynamic back that he was last season. Against the Raiders, he was essentially shut down in the running game and the Texans had to split him out and get him some touches in the passing game (5 catches for 116 yards). Against the Ravens, nothing really worked. Well, the game yesterday was the bizarro Raven game. Pretty much everything Foster did worked as he went over 100 yards rushing and receiving, becoming the first Texan to achieve that feat in franchise history (and the 32nd player ever). The one play that should make every Texan fan breathe easier on the Arian Foster 2011 Experience is the 78-yard touchdown reception, where he a) made a Titan defensive back look silly in the open field and b) put on the afterburners and showed off his "just fast enough to beat whoever is two steps behind him" football speed. Observe, a Pro Bowl running back in his natural habitat:
2. My show
As I've mentioned a few times in this space, Arian Foster and I do an hour each week on my show, so to say that there is some sort of cosmic fortune that is bestowed upon guests on my show in the form of my guests scoring touchdowns would be a tad disingenuous. Foster was scoring touchdowns before he became part of my radio family. So I can't take
much credit when Foster has a three touchdown outburst...until you look at the other players who have appeared on my show in the last three weeks and have gone on to score touchdowns:
-- Owen Daniels, Texans tight end (plus he's on my fantasy team, so...bonus!)
-- Delanie Walker, 49er tight end (game winner versus the Lions)
-- Naaman Roosevelt, Bills wide receiver (a sixty yarder, no less!)
-- Jared Cook, Titans tight end (the only Titan touchdown against the Texans)
-- DeMarco Murray (not just touchdowns, but a new Cowboy rushing record)
Amazing, right? RIGHT? Hello?
This trend is much more guest-friendly than the jinx which I'd been cultivating in the last year or so, when Texans linebacker David Nixon was cut within ten minutes of hanging up the phone with me last season, and Steeler running back Baron Batch had his rookie season end with an ACL tear two days after coming on with me.