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 This was the home-opener and the stadium was filled with blue and much of it was “deep steel blue” or whatever corny, outdated branding the Texans use to describe their team colors.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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It's all systems go for the Houston Texans! Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images.

It was 2002 and the city of Houston was rewarded with the NFL's 32nd franchise. I remember the newspaper special section with all the info points on the new team. There was even a full page graphic explaining how the grass plates were constructed. (Side Note: We should've known right then and there it was going to be disastrous!) There was a level of excitement unseen since the Rockets won a title, I'd assume. People were wearing “32, Houston” jerseys. There was more Battle Red, Deep Steel Blue, and Liberty White around town than a Fourth of July day parade.

The next time the city was excited about Texans football involved the Gary Kubiak days of making the playoffs. After that, Bill O'Brien hung a few division title banners as well. That's when the lull came. It all came crashing down, swiftly and mightily. The death of Bob McNair may have played a part in things deteriorating so quickly. Whether blame is placed here or there, changes needed to be made. Cal McNair was seen as incompetent. In comes Nick Caserio. He had a mess to clean up. The last two seasons were awful, but necessary. After back-to-back one-and-done coaches, Caserio has hired his guy.

Enter DeMeco Ryans. The former Texans great linebacker was the 49ers defensive coordinator the past two seasons. He took over a great defense and kept it going. From the moment he stepped on campus at Alabama, he commanded a different level of respect. Not only was he good, but he was a leader. Nicknamed “Cap” because he was a captain on and off the field. That followed him to Houston. His presence was felt everywhere he went. It was known before his career ended that he'd most likely be a coach one day.

This moment in time right now is giving 2002, Kubiak playoffs, and O'Brien playoff vibes but amplified. Why? Because one of this franchise's own has come home. Ryans was the most desired candidate this coaching cycle. Sean Payton may have had the bigger name, but Ryans was the one the Broncos tried to go back after, then settled on Payton. Teams he turned down had to move along and find other candidates to fill their vacancies. HE CHOSE HOUSTON! Nothing like feeling desired and being chosen!

I believe DeMeco will turn this franchise around and make them a contender. It's very rare that you have a star athlete turned sought after coach and NOBODY has a bad word to say about him! Social media has turned things into a 12-hour news cycle. Yet you've NEVER heard or seen DeMeco involved in any foolishness. He's been a model citizen, while also maintaining a high level of play and now coaching. When people respect you for your football acumen AND your character, that says a lot. Whoever said nice guys finish last obviously hasn't met DeMeco.

Armed with some cap space, draft capital, a capable GM, and ownership seeking a fresh start, DeMeco is set up to succeed. It's up to him, and Caserio, to finish what was started two years ago. Currently, the house on Kirby has a few more improvements to make. Some paint, redoing the floors, new landscaping, and new furniture. The kitchens and bathrooms are done. It needs the final touch. DeMeco is that final touch.

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