Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio, Sports and Wrestling. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio shows www.facebook.com/nerdthugradio!
This week kicked off with a solid Elimination Chamber event here in Houston, with Shane and Miz losing their titles to The Usos and Finn Balor winning the intercontinental belt in a handicap match. The event had some surprises and great moments, the most important being crowning Sasha and Bailey as the first women's tag champions in WWE history. The finale of Elimination Chamber wound up being much better than expected with Kofi Kingston going off for the second show in a row and going the distance against Daniel Bryan before eventually losing what was honestly a great match between the two.
This week on Raw and Smackdown both shows made the interesting decision to showcase some new call ups from NXT with Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and Ricochet. Both shows had them putting on quality matches against the likes of Cien Almas, Elias, The Bar, and The Revival, among others. It's certainly an interesting choice to say the least considering recently EC3, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross and Lacey Evans were also called up from NXT. That's a lot of new faces to integrate into what is currently a fairly stacked roster of talent.
This leads right back into AEW, as all roads seem to lead currently, with ripples being felt throughout the wrestling world. On Nerd Thug Wrestling, Brock Baker, indy wrestler formerly of Booker T's program Reality of Wrestling, talked about how the entry of a new big fish in the market has opened opportunities on both WWE developmental schools and throughout the indy scene. With AEW snapping up quality talent from the upper echelons of independent wrestling including former Reality of Wrestling's own Kylie Rae, and forcing WWE to respond by bringing in it's own new young talent so as to not be left out. All these signing means the one thing for every wrestler, an opportunity.
With this week seeming to be a showcase week and less of an "advance the story" week, there wasn't a ton of twists or turns or announcements for Fastlane or Wrestlemania, with the exception of the announcement of Degeneration X being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame including controversial figure The Ninth Wonder of the World, Chyna.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.