Five Highly Relevant Thoughts on the 2014 Houston Texans Schedule
2. Good schedule to break in a rookie
Still, we are in the conjecture business (and business is good!), so let's examine this. If the Texans do draft and start a rookie quarterback, the schedule lines up nicely for that youngster to not get his brains bashed in for the first month or so of the season. The first five opponents (Washington, Oakland, NY Giants, Buffalo, Dallas) ranked 14th, 18th, 29th, 3rd, and 32nd in sack percentage (and the best one, Buffalo, is a home game). Also, they ranked 19th, 27th, 10th, 6th, and 30th in passing yards allowed (again, the best one, Buffalo, is at home).
3. Road trip assessment
Each year, there are eight road trips. Three of them are the same every year, division games in Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Indianapolis. As a potentially traveling fan, the most intriguing and anticipated part of the schedule for me is where and when the other five road games occur. This season, the three other AFC road trips are intriguing football venues (if not tourist hot beds) -- Oakland (Schaub!), Pittsburgh (on a Monday night!), and Cleveland (in November!). After a season last year that included trips to San Diego and San Francisco (places you could actually rationalize as "taking a vacation" trips as well), "good football venues" is what we will hang our hats on. Cool?
4. The schedule layout
People complaining about quirks in their team's schedule is always funny to me. It's a puzzle the league has to put together, and nothing is perfect. Every team has a few sort of schedule related obstacles, so you deal with them. Teams also get a few gifts as well. For the Texans, here are my quick hit gifts and obstacles:
GIFT #1: The Texans' two primetime games are actually in back to back weeks, and with a Thursday-Monday double dip, it almost creates a quasi bye week between Weeks 6 and 7, three weeks before their actual bye week. Nice balance there.
GIFT #2: If, by the grace of the football gods, the Texans are in the mix for a playoff spot (and yes, I know this post may look really stupid in October now), the stretch run is not impossible, assuming Jacksonville remains Jacksonville. Of course, in Jacksonville on talk radio today, the five Jags fans are chalking up two wins against the Texans in their schedule assessment segment. So there's that.
OBSTACLE #1: Back to back road trips in Weeks 2 and 3 to the West Coast then the East Coast seems like kind of a hard deal with jet lag and what not. (This was confirmed by my co-host on 610, Ted Johnson, who played a decade in the NFL. It is a hard deal.)
OBSTACLE #2: The middle portion of the schedule has a short week of games on the road (Pittsburgh, Tennessee) sandwiched between home games against Andrew Luck and Chip Kelly. That feels one of those stretches where we will be glad the bye week gets here.
5. Quarterback assessment
Remember back to 2012 when the Texans went 12-4? Feels like 20 years ago, I know. Well, remember that schedule and how many games were on there against great or near-great quarterbacks? Manning (the good one), Rodgers, Brady, and Andrew Luck late in his rookie season when he is essentially not a rookie anymore? Well, we all know how those games went, for the most part. Not really well. 2-3, and the three losses were blowouts. Thank God they caught Peyton in Week 3 that year.
Well, this season the quarterback slate is very manageable. If we say that the top tier of eliteness (BUZZ WORD!!) at the quarterback positions is Rodgers, Peyton, Brady, Brees, and throw in Wilson, Luck and Kapernick as capos to those bosses (with downward trending Big Ben, prolific but scary Philip Rivers, and Cam Newton on the next tier), then here's how this schedule shakes out:
ELITE CAPOS (2): vs Luck, at Luck
KNOCKING ON ELITE DOOR (1): at Big Ben
Other than that, it's this...
ELITE SKILLS, SCHAUB TENDENCIES (1): at Romo
POSSIBLE ONE HIT WONDERS (1): Foles
INJURED PLAYER WITH SKILLS AND ATTITUDE ISSUES (1): vs RG3
FOREVER TIER THREE (1): vs Dalton
SUPER BOWL QBS WHO ARE ACTUALLY AVERAGE (2): at Eli, vs Flacco
YOUNG QB'S RIPE FOR PICKING (6): vs Manuel, at Cleveland's QB, two games apiece versus Tennessee and Jacksonville
SCHAUB (1): at Schaub
Very manageable. Let's do this!