LANCE ZIERLEIN

Texans better check their arrogance: They don't own this town

Think J.J. Watt was dejected on Sunday? How about the fans? Bob Levey/Getty Images

After another sad performance in the books for our Houston Texans. Yeah, I said it. OUR Houston Texans. You don’t get to just walk away from this mess. It doesn’t work like that. Oh, you may have turned the game off on Sunday to pay attention to the Astros or and you may head out for an incredible BBQ experience at Southern Smoke because you know that it will absolutely kill the crap out of watching what the Texans are selling these days.

But you must always remember that “Houston is a football town.” Do you know how I know? Somebody on Twitter told me. Well that’s only partially true. The idea of Houston as a football town has been the prevailing notion for quite some time, but is it accurate?

Shut up about their “sell outs”.

When you ask people why they believe this is such a football town they will tell you to look at the “attendance” and the “sellouts.” Yes, let’s take both:
 

  1. The Texans have to sell out a grand total of eight games per year. Big deal. Houston is the fourth largest city in the country with a football sprawl that heads well beyond the Houston area to the North, West, and East. These “sellouts” are tickets sold and not actual people at the game.

  2. The Texans are insulated against mass amounts of people dropping their season tickets because of the initial PSL charges they imposed on many of the season ticket holders. My foul-mouthed radio partner, John Granato, is one of those people who can’t walk away for that very reason. He’s stuck.

  3. If you fancy yourself a football town, then wouldn’t it make sense to actually attend the home opener? This was the home-opener and the stadium was filled with blue and much of it was “deep steel blue” or whatever corny, outdated branding the Texans use to describe their team colors. NRG was loaded with Giants fans….who bought their tickets from Texans fans….who didn’t want to go.

Football Town or Baseball City?

Personally, I think the phrase “Houston is a football town” is nothing more than a phrase people toss around. Or better yet… it might be a football town, but it doesn’t feel like a Texans town right now. This town is definitely an Astros town. To the victor goes the spoils.

I had a very interesting interaction with a member of the Texans back in 2011 that seemed and seems representative of the arrogance that has permeated certain factions of that organization.

When the Texans are winning….and I mean really winning and not that middling, 9-7 crap where they get punished early in the playoffs, this town will be on fire for them. That happened in 2011 and 2012 and that is it. I’m not saying fans haven’t been excited about the Texans over the years, but that has faded and faded badly.

The Rockets are consistently competitive and were likely a hamstring injury to Chris Paul away from winning a title last season. The Astros knocked “World Series” off their bucket list last year and are primed for another big run in the postseason after putting up another ho-hum, 100-win season full of clutch play. The Texans? Same old Texans.

This is an Astros city right now. People are buzzing about them again all around the city in anticipation of what is to come. The Texans have almost no buzz right now. Things change. When I ask my kids their favorite Rockets or Astros memories, they can rip off a checklist of plays or games. When I asked them the same question about the Texans, they had nothing. Maybe the Texans will get it on track against the Colts, but most of Houston may be too busy getting ready for a championship team to notice.

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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