IT'S ABOUT TIME!

How silent majority is finally giving Texans much-needed reality check

This is how an NFL team operates in the Bizarro World. Composite image by Jack Brame.

About six or seven years ago, a Houston Texans official told me privately - "you can't quote me on this" - the Texans had more people on their season ticket wait list than the Astros and Rockets sold actual season tickets. Of course the Texans official was bragging, but I'm thinking he probably was right.

Last week a friend told me, "Guess who just called me? The Houston Texans! They told me I could buy season tickets. I made it to the top of their wait list."

It's not such a long list. Not anymore. Three years ago, my friend filled out the form to buy season tickets. The Texans were serial AFC South champs and hotshot Deshaun Watson was the darling of Houston. "Fine, you're Number 26,000 (and something)," he was told.

Last year, he moved up the list to No. 20,000 (and something).

This year, how many do you want?

This means over the past three years, enough Texans season ticket holders didn't renew their tickets to have the team offer those seats to at least 26,000 people who also said no thanks. Although, given the current state of the Texans, they might not have been so polite. I asked my friend, so did you buy 'em?

He said, "Hell no! And they keep calling and emailing me! Actually my wife was more against buying Texans tickets than I am. She is a big football fan and used to love the Texans. But for her, the last straw was when they released J.J. Watt.

"The Texans have sold out every regular season game in their history, almost 200 games in a row since Sept. 8, 2002 when they defeated the Dallas Cowboys at Reliant Stadium. There is a question of whether the streak of sellouts really will end in 2021, since the county may swoop in and buy any tickets that become available. The Texans have an insanely sweet deal with Harris County. This isn't like Pittsburgh or Green Bay or Chicago where fans bequeath tickets to their next of kin, and long-lost second cousins come out of the woodwork to claim the old guy's seats.

The love affair between the Texans and football-crazy fans in Houston is over. There's a thin line between love and hate and the Texans crossed it. In the past two seasons, the Texans have said goodbye to their best receiver DeAndre Hopkins and greatest player and humanitarian ever J.J. Watt. Their dynamic All-Pro quarterback Watson is accused of sexual misconduct by 22 women, seems to have a creepy massage fetish and wants to be traded. This is how an NFL team operates in the Bizarro World, where "us hate beauty and us love ugliness."

The front office looks like the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Team owner Cal McNair is regarded as a doofus, his Svengali Jack Easterby a whack job and former coach Bill O'Brien a maniac. Like George Costanza, every instinct they've had since original team owner Bob McNair died in 2018 has been wrong. The one adult in the room, team president Jamey Rootes, resigned last February. What's left is a 4-12 team with a new head coach with no experience and a new general manager with no experience and a new starting quarterback who's really a backup. Who's the biggest name on the team? How many Texans players would you recognize if you were sitting at Denny's enjoying a Moons Over My Hammy sandwich? The most noteworthy Texans player might be safety Jonathan Owens, and that's mainly because he's Simone Biles' boyfriend. There is very little to like about this team and even less to cheer about. The Texans are closer to the Jaguars than they are Super Bowl challengers.

And the Texans wonder why their season ticket waitlist has been whittled down to absolute zero?

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We'll see if Watson is in pads on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans.

The Houston Texans had their last practice before pads come on for the first time on Tuesday. There was plenty to see on Monday.

1. Deshaun Watson had his usual extremely light level of work. He did very little throwing to teammates, though he did throw to the tight ends in 1-on-1 drills.

2. Texans head coach David Culley said "nothing has changed" when asked if Deshaun Watson will be in pads Tuesday. Culley has maintained that answer for a couple of sessions now.

3. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was back after missing Saturday with an excused personal day. Taylor has been the best quarterback in camp by a wide margin. Taylor makes better decisions with the football than other quarterbacks, but he does struggle on deeper passes. Taylor missed wildly on one deep ball and was a little wobbly on another.

4. Nobody in camp can cover wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This could be the easiest training camp of his life. He easily gets open in 1-on-1 situations.

5. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins continues to flash his abilities in camp. Collins easily shook loose from defensive back John Reid and took the route vertical for an easy score. Collins later had a tough catch in traffic.

6. It's only been a few days, but the competition for inside wide receiver reps is tough. Former Bears wideout Anthony Miller has looked quick and nothing like the "draft bust" the Bears fans watched. Keke Coutee has rarely lost a rep, but Desmond King did win a few times over Coutee in the opening days of camp. Former Bengals wideout Alex Erickson finds himself constantly open. The cuts at wide receiver are already shaking out to be difficult.

7. Davis Mills bounced back in a sense that he couldn't be worse than he was on Saturday. The performance from Mills on Saturday was abysmal, but head coach David Culley said he liked how Mills responded today. With Tyrod Taylor back, there were fewer reps for Mills, but he had some impressive throws to go along with an off-target throw or two. Mills was far better than Jeff Driskel on Monday. Driskel tossed two interceptions right to defenders, including one that would've gone the wrong way for a score.

8. This linebacker group is interesting. With a new defensive scheme under Lovie Smith, the type of linebacker is very different from previous years. There was a clear emphasis on cover ability as these linebackers were added to the team.

9. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Kevin Pierre-Louis have both had some significant wins for the linebackers in coverage.

10. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan looks the part physically, but he's had a rough few days, including a drop on Monday.

11. With the pads coming on Tuesday, it will be fun to watch the rebuilt defensive line clash with the many combinations of the offensive line. There will be no J.J. Watt who historically stirred up the team on day one of pads. Laremy Tunsil's cool confidence about the offensive line over the weekend leads me to believe they are a confident group, while there are spots to be won on the defensive side of the line.

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