The Aggies have lost six straight games. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.
The downhill slide continued last Saturday night for Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M Aggies as they lost their sixth straight game to the lowly Auburn Tigers 13-10. It was an abysmal game on both sides of the ball for both squads. In all honesty, it was a very hard game to watch. Even with an interim coach, the battle of the 3-6 SEC West teams favored Auburn, and Aggieland fell even deeper into the abyss.
How did they get here? I seem to ask that question every week. The loss to App State in week two was a sign of things to come. When the Mountaineers from the Sun Belt came to Kyle Field and defeated the 6th-ranked Texas Aggies, the thought on many Aggie’s minds was, “maybe App State is just that good? The Ags can still win the SEC. It was just a non-conference game!” It turns out that App State was not that good. It turns out that the Aggies could not win the SEC. It turns out that the nightmare season that many Aggie faithful feared had come true.
So here we are, with Texas A&M missing their first bowl game due to their record since 2008. With UMASS and SEC West Champs LSU remaining on the schedule, Aggie fans and Alumni are legitimately questioning if they will finish 3-9. Let that sink in. You cannot confidently say Texas A&M can beat UMASS. The best-case scenario is the Maroon and White somehow win out and finish 5-7. I’m not in the crowd that is worried about UMASS, however. I think the Aggies will be able to finally get that winning feeling again against the Minutemen. But the next challenge comes to close out the season with LSU after thanksgiving. If Jimbo Fisher wants to build ANY momentum going into the offseason, a great place to start would be wrecking LSU’s playoff hopes.
The Aggies will need to take it one step at a time, however. If they focus on UMASS first and handle their business this coming Saturday, I believe they'll be able to end this historic skid for Texas A&M. A&M handles UMASS easily with a 34-10 victory to improve to 4-7.
“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.