RIGHTING WRONGS

How a tough schedule and mistakes have cost the Texans

The Texans have another tough opponent on Sunday. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers step foot inside NRG Stadium on Sunday, it will mark the end to a brutal seven-week stretch for the Houston Texans.

After they opened the season against the Super Bowl champions, the Texans went down a trajectory where they faced four MVP quarterbacks — three of which with Super Bowl titles — and three teams currently leading their respective divisions in six of their first seven games.

The outcome led Houston to a 1-5 record on the season, with the likelihood of adding an extra game in the loss column following Sunday's contest. The Texans have not been the typical sub .500 team despite what the record might show. According to cornerback Bradley Roby, it has been simple mistakes that have prevented the team from adding a few more wins on the season.

"Every time I look at it, it's what we're doing," Roby said. "It's us messing up, or making an M.A., or not being aligned right. It's little things. It's not like we're just going out and getting killed. It's little things we're not doing or adjusting to that's causing losses."

Roby said during his press conference on Thursday that it only takes four or five plays to decide the outcome of an NFL game. But in Houston's case, perhaps just one or two. The Texans have come a play or two away from recording a victory over several of their opponents this season.

In the game against the Titans, the general belief is that Romeo Crennel's failed two-point conversion is what led the Texans to their fifth loss in six tries.

Although Crennel's decision had a significant impact on the final results, Derrick Henry's 94-yard touchdown drive was more demoralizing to the Texans — who were ahead by two entering the fourth quarter. With less than 10 seconds left in regulation, Ryan Tannehill connected with A.J. Brown on a seven-yard touchdown pass to send the game into overtime.

Had they got one of the two stops, the Texans would have come out of Nissan Stadium victorious against their AFC South counterparts.

Three weeks prior in the loss to the Steelers, had the Texans prevented James Conner from finding his way into the end zone late in the fourth quarter, Houston would have recorded their first win of the season inside Heinz Field Stadium in Pittsburgh.

"If we have an opportunity to go out there and win the game and end it right there, then I would do that 100 percent of the time," Tim Kelly said when looking back on the failed two-point conversion against the Titans. "I knew our guys would go out there and execute. Two inches more to the left and I think we're having a different conversation today."

Against Rogers, it is going to be critical for Houston to limit the number of mistakes in an attempt to pull off an upset. In his 15th season, the two-time league MVP winner has aged like fine wine (2011 & 2014). With a QBR of 86.1, Rogers has recorded 1,374 yards with a 13-2 touchdown to interception ratio thus far this season.

"It's my first time going against him, so it's going to be dope just to see him in live-action," Deshaun Watson said. "He's definitely a guy I love to watch, I've been watching since I was young. It's definitely going to be fun to compete with him. We're going to have to score a lot of points because that's what he's going to do. We've got to continue pushing forward. It's going to be fun."

A victory against one of the league's top teams would not only improve their appalling record to 2-5, but it gives the Texans a reason to be optimistic coming out of the bye week with a favorable schedule.

Starting against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 9, the Texans' remaining schedule is nowhere near as challenging as their first seven games. They will only face one former league MVP in Cam Newton come Week 11 against the Patriots, and a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Nick Foles during their Week 14 match against the Bears. As of now, only four of Houston's next nine opponents possess a winning record coming out of the bye.

Can an easier schedule lead to a path where Houston becomes the fourth team in league history to make the playoffs after a 1-5 start? It's possible. But it has to start with the Texans minimizing their on-field mistakes. It's a change that has to begin Sunday against a future Hall of Famer on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage.

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Everyone else is doing it! Composite image by Jack Brame.

Can a professional athlete come up with a worse excuse for getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs than blaming it on a doctor?

Fans would have more respect for a player if he said the dog ate his urine test results.

Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V (as in I'm taking the Fifth) and cornerback Bradley Roby have been suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Both will sit out for the remaining five games of the 2020 season, plus the first game of the 2021 season.

There were many questions about Fuller heading into Year 5 of his NFL career. Up until 2020, his tenure in the NFL has been plagued with injuries, and some Texans fans clamored for him to be swapped before the 2020 trade deadline. Fuller was having his best season, and the Texans decided to keep him. In fact, Deshaun Watson said the team would've revolted if Fuller had been moved. In 11 games, Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns.

I'm going to cut Bradley Roby some slack because he took ownership for using a banned substance. He made it clear that it was his responsibility to know what is on the NFL's list of banned PEDs. He will probably have that list taped on his fridge the rest of his NFL career.

Fuller took a different approach, one that unfortunately resembles many other famous athletes' excuses for getting caught with PEDs; Blame a medical professional. Or somebody, anybody else.

Whether Fuller and Roby were receiving treatment from the same medical professional is unknown. More important, it's irrelevant. In 2020, how could athletes possibly blame a medical professional when a list of banned substances is hanging on the wall in every team's training room?

The answer is they shouldn't. Let's take a look at athletes with the worst excuses for juicing. Specifically for getting caught juicing.

Rafael Palmeiro (MLB) - Other than a physician or trainer, the only person more improbable to blame for a positive steroid test is your own teammate. When Palmeiro tested positive in 2005, he blamed a supposed B-12 shot (it wasn't B-12) administered by Baltimore Orioles Miguel Tejada.

Brian Cushing (NFL) - Cushing played his entire NFL career with the Houston Texans. Cushing's first positive test came in 2009. He had abnormally high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, a human growth hormone that typically shows up in pregnant women. He later changed his excuse to "overtraining." He has since claimed the positive test was a result of a cancerous tumor. He tested positive for PEDs again in 2017.

Maria Sharapova (Tennis) - Sharapova claimed she never read an email which listed the banned substance, meldonium, she was caught taking.

Barry Bonds (MLB) - When Bonds tested positive for PEDs in 2000 and 2001, he put all of the blame on San Francisco Giants trainer Greg Anderson. Bonds said Anderson told him that he was using flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is not typically injected, and certainly doesn't lead to your hat size growing.

Lance Armstrong (Cycling) - Armstrong, after years of denial, admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs on an Opera Winfrey prime time special. His excuse? Every other cyclist was doing it. Oprah did not ask him if he would jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if the others did. How could anybody win seven Tour de France titles after surviving testicular cancer? They might as well have renamed the race Tour De Lance. His sad saga ended with him being stripped of his seven titles and banned for life.

Melky Cabrera (MLB) - Cabrera tested positive while playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2012. After his positive test, he paid a patsy $10,000 to create a fake website that sold fake products to try and fake his innocence. The FBI busted him and he served a real suspension.

LaShawn Merritt (Track & Field) - The famed American sprinter blamed his third positive steroid test on a testicular enlargement supplement called Extenze.

Petr Korda (Tennis) - Korda stated that his love for veal was the reason he tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. He went further saying he liked veal even more when the calf was injected with steroids. A scientist testified Korda would have to eat 40 calves every day for 20 years to equal the amount of nandrolone discovered in his system. Sounds like the Ivan Drago diet (from the first fight, when he killed Apollo Creed).

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