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 and the sister show Ball Control. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio shows at www.nerdthugradio.com or www.facebook.com/nerdthugradio!
With Elimination Chamber looming, this is usually when the WWE shifts into high gear to get everything firing on all cylinders with their biggest event of the year looming- Wreslemania.
Raw opened up with Becky Lynch who has gone from kicking off Smackdown to kicking off Raw and she's not even on this show. Stephanie McMahon and her cut a promo basically tabling Becky Lynch from competition the next few weeks while she's "suspended indefinitely" coming up to Wrestlemania where she is scheduled to face Ronda Rousey. Kurt Angle looks to be building up to one more big Wrestlemania moment, and with no John Cena, no HHH, no Shawn Michaels and no Undertaker seemingly, this may be the big nostalgic touch for this year's Wrestlemania, possibly in a tag match. Speaking of nostalgia, for some reason Jeff Jarrett and the Road Dogg are still hanging out with WWE for a second week in a row and they rolled out a second match with Elias, where they couldn't even break a guitar on him properly. Finn Balor continues blazing a path back to a main event and it seems like there's going to be a great match in his very near future and EC3 had a solid introduction to the WWE Universe which is nice since Lars Sullivan is alleged to have had anxiety issues and still hasn't debuted on the main roster after several weeks of promos.
Over on the sister show Smackdown, HHH made a rare appearance and flexed some of that VP power with Becky Lynch, continuing the build up for a great Wrestlemania main event. Gallows and Anderson made a rare appearance in a subpar tag match versus Rusev and Nakamora, as Smackdown struggles to find its rhythm since the return of the McMahons and the promised change of direction. Build up for Elimination Chamber seems to be left primarily to Smackdown as the main event is comprised of six of their stars including the Planet's Champion, Daniel Bryan. Overall this match isn't exactly stacking up for a great main event as most of the players involved aren't exactly headliners right now with the exception of AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. Consider in 2018 the line up was Cena, Rollins, Balor, Elias, The Miz, Roman Reigns and Strowman but this year its AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy and Mustafa Ali, it's not really a great comparison is it? Building up for the tag team women's championship elimination match has been a little better though, as the women's matches have been high points on both Raw and Smackdown thus far.
Elimination Chamber looks to be a confusing PPV event with half of the WWE roster talking about Wrestlemania and pointing at the sign in the stadiums, while the other half is talking about an event coming up much sooner.
“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.