Texans/Browns -- 4 Winners, 4 Losers
The Texans beat the Browns soundly yesterday by a score of 30-12, and for the first time in the history of the franchise, your hometown team is three games over .500.
Photo by Marco Torres Tough day for Colt McCoy.
The Texans have never tasted this rarefied air before, so I don't really know what to do. Do we schedule a parade down Kirby? Do we spray champagne on our co-workers when we get to work this week? Do we have T-shirts made up for the occasion, and if so, do we send them to little kids in the Congo if the Texans fall back to two games over .500 this weekend (like the flood of "Buffalo Bills World Champion" shirts and hats donned by kids in the jungles of Africa)?
I don't know how to react, so for now I'll just savor another sub-175 yard performance by the defense, another streetfight brawl won by the offense, and dive into some winners and losers.
Let's do this...
4. Smash mouth football
Gary Kubiak was part of the Bronco staff that constructed those Denver offenses of the late '90s, early '00s, where the identity of the running back seemingly became the least relevant piece of information as they plugged everybody from superstars like Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis to washouts like Quentin Griffin and Olandis Gary in and they all seemingly went and got 1,000 yards. Now, it's like he's taken the knowledge from the dark lord Shanahan and constructed his own ground game terror machine in Houston, only here they have actual backs with skills. For the second time in three games, Arian Foster and Ben Tate BOTH had 100 yards rushing. And that's with almost zero threat of the Texans throwing the ball more than 20 yards down the field.
While I'm as excited as anyone to get Andre Johnson back, there's part of me that would love to see the Texans continue to bludgeon teams into a run-induced coma and see Arian Foster AND Ben Tate make the Pro Bowl. (You'd need injuries to get Tate there, but seriously, after Foster, Jones-Drew, Fred Jackson, Ray Rice, McFadden...I mean, Tate's not that far off.)
3. Atlanta Falcons
So at 6-3, we can now legitimately ask the question "Will the Texans get flex-scheduled into a Sunday night home game?" As you probably know, for seven of the final eight weeks of the season (Christmas is set in stone), NBC reserves the right to change the Sunday night game to one that has some semblance of playoff implications. This is after CBS and Fox have both essentially drafted and frozen five games apiece over that period of time. I haven't gone through the process of doing a "mock CBS and Fox flex game draft" (that would top all dork-out mock drafts ever, ever, ever, by the way), but it would seem the best chance for a Texans home Sunday night game would be Atlanta on December 4 or (and hopefully the division is locked up by then, but...) Tennessee on January 1. I want nothing to do with a winner-take-all game for the AFC South on January 1, so let's just hope Atlanta keeps winning and NBC thinks the nation would love to see 8-3 Atlanta at 8-3 Houston on a Sunday night, okay?
1. Brooks Reed
When Mario Williams went down with his torn pectoral muscle, there was understandable trepidation among Texans fans. Brooks Reed had gotten minimal playing time in the regular season, and Mario was beginning to click in that "hybrid standup defensive end, but we'll call him an outside linebacker" role. Let's face it, in terms of sheer athletic dominance, there is no bigger force on the Texans roster than number 90. And yet, four games into the post-Mario Era, the Texans defense has risen to the top defense in the league, and Brooks Reed has four sacks in his last three games. Admittedly, I don't know about the long-term fit for Reed in Williams's spot (strong side, weak side, all that garbage), but if Reed continues to produce and the Texans continue to win, what to do with Mario Williams's contract extension will be a hot topic as the season rolls on and during the off-season.
4. Chris Ogbonnaya
The rules are fairly simple in the NFL -- the more a team has invested in you from a draft position (and in turn guaranteed money) standpoint, the more slack you'll get to make mistakes (see: Jackson, Kareem). So when Chris Ogbonnaya, by all accounts a great kid (I think I heard Kubiak call him a "great kid" one time; actually I think I've heard Kubiak call everyone a "great kid" one time), fumbled on his first carry as a starter in the NFL, you had to feel for him a little bit. That's the express pass to oblivion if you're a practice-squad-caliber running back.