The local television affiliate, KEYE, decided to show the Texans/Jacksonville game this week instead of the Titans game, why I have no idea. My two current schools of thought on this are A) they had to make the decision 12 days before the game and chose poorly, since they weren't yet aware that on any given sunday there are about 10,000 more people in Austin interested in Vince than the Texans or B) KEYE has a vested interest in charity work. I'm angling towards the latter. In a crazy way it makes sense. Sure, some people just give at the local church, or go the celebrity route and adopt a bunch of kids from Myanmar, but it takes a real sense of social charity to show the Texans getting flat run over for four quarters and lose money while doing it. You've got to respect that sort of dedication. Plus, Amobi Okoye is from Nigeria. Take that, Brangelina.
Look honey, that's Mario Williams... let's see if we can take him home.
Since I had absolutely no interest in watching the aforementioned clobbering I headed to a local sportsbar after morning rounds where I found good food, cold beer, and made some new friends. I'd like to say hi to my buddy from Green Bay, and let everyone know that Mark Tauscher is an outstanding offensive tackle and was totally not holding on that play, he has excellent technique you retarded f*ing refs and you completely screwed us on that one. I'd also like to wish all my buddies from New York the best this season. No, I'm not convinced Pennington can get it done either, but I'm pulling for you, if only because when your coach wins Bill Belichick dies a little inside. That has to be worth something. I would give a shout out to my new friends from Houston but they all left in the third quarter, at which point my industrious Wisconsin sidekick and I ate all their nachos. Order some jalapenos next time, you pansies. It's a lot harder to play close attention to the game in such raucous environment, my review this week is a lot more surface and disjointed than I'd like, but overall I recommend the experience. I did seize once from trying to watch 12 flat screen televisions at the same time, but fortunately some guys revived me by stepping on my head while I was rolling around on the floor. Apparently that's the New York version of CPR.
BTW- At what point, as a society, did we decide that sportsbars need multiple flat screen televisions, showing 8 different games simultaneously, mounted at every conceivable vantage point and viewing angle... in the bathroom ? Follow-up question: Do you think Del Rio would have felt any extra pressure when he called that on-side kick if he had known there were dozens of guys actively micturating while watching it? I emailed him and asked but he hasn't written back yet. He never responded to those cool Japanese suits I found for him either , so I wasn't expecting much.
As far as the game itself, it was a bit of a letdown. Instead of opening a massive can of whoop ass on Tampa, Vince turned the ball over once and then hurt his leg. I kept expecting him to come back in in the fourth quarter and pull out a win because that's the kind of shit he usually does, everyone who saw him roll his ankle against Kansas State in 2003 knows the guy is made out of plastic, but it wasn't meant to be. He played solidly enough, 8 out of 11 I think before he was hurt, but he hasn't really been up to form the last few weeks. Of course the normal fan reaction is to oversimplify things like this, but I think our offensive struggles this week are multifactorial. Tampa crowded the line of scrimmage the entire game, I'm surprised we had almost 100 yards on the ground actually. They cut off rollouts and forced Vince to throw from the pocket in the first half. Ahmard Hall going down didn't help, nor did the lack of our #1 WR Jones. Tampa is a pretty good defensive team and we were able to move the ball on them and control the TOP, even with a backup QB in the game, so I don't think our offense is broken. It is in need of a serious overhaul right now though, and that starts with VY running the ball on broken plays and even on some on-schedule ones. The hamstring injury is going to factor in here, of course, but assuming he's healthy he needs to mix it up more the next few games. In fact, I'd like to see some designed runs early in the game even if they go for no gain, most importantly because our run game is predicated on him as a threat on the ground, but also for no other reason than to remind VY that he is still a half-man, half-robot demon when he has the ball in his hands. I want the old Vince back. Not the new Vince, who is so preoccupied with throwing the ball that he lets LenDale's stationary buttcheek record a solo tackle. WTF, Over? He did this his sophomore year at Texas too, we were told he wasn't allowed to run for about a 6 game stretch to save his legs, he emerged from the other side of that a lot more complete player and damn near impossible to stop, but personally I'm ready for this little pocket experiment to be over. I thought the hit out of bounds against the Giants last season flipped the switch, if not then the Texans game this week certainly needs to.
The defense played well, particularly the run defense. Tampa is starting some guy at tailback who works at the ticket booth on weekdays at DisneyWorld, but even so we held them to a dismal rushing total, which is always nice. The secondary had a few blown coverages, but overall they played well. The long touchdown hurt, but watching the whole of the game the DB's stepped up. They held contain underneath without giving up too many long plays, and prior to that last drive they were the reason we were still in the game after a stagnant offensive performance and two turnovers. Tampa couldn't run on our front 7, so the pressure was on the secondary to stick with receivers while Garcia moved around and tried to get downfield. I'd also mention that Cortland has become my favorite DB this year. I've just about run out of hyperbolic adjectives about his mean streak, if you have some by all means send them in. I guess growing up with a name like that does something to you. I'm going to name my next son Pendleton Wickersham, in the hopes that he will someday conquer outer Mongolia and rule with an iron fist. I didn't catch the name of that receiver he de-cleated but in the postgame interviews he identified himself as "Batman". I'd like to see Griffin get some snaps, both because Harper can be a liability in coverage and frankly because I'm curious, but as a unit the secondary did enough to win this game. If you want to know the truth the bulk of Tampa's success hinged on Jeff Garcia running around behind the line of scrimmage like a crackhead. I told my buddy that there is no possible way he could keep chunking the ball on the run off his back foot 30 yards down the field for a completion before getting absolutely clobbered again and keep getting up, but somehow he did. The guy is the Indiana Jones of the NFL. He doesn't look like much, but somehow manages to swing on a bullwhip over the bottomless pit to outrun the massive rolling ball (Albert Haynesworth, if you're keeping up with the metaphor) to escape the from the ruined Mayan temple. Then he rolls back under to grab his hat.
Nah, you ain't gonna catch no crackhead...
Overall it was a pretty frustrating loss, but then again we shouldn't have won the game at all last week so I guess these things balance out. When you play FisherBall, low scoring grind it out defensive struggles, it's part of the package. There's a reason why we come from behind to win a lot of games in the fourth quarter. Of course the key is winning more than you lose, and the last two weeks turnovers have been the Achilles heel of this football team. If you're an optimist both losses this season have been by a total of 5 points, and being 3-2 so far with a couple of close losses is real progress over last season's 0-5 start with a couple of mind-numbingly embarassing blow-outs. We really need a win next week both for the overall record and division standings, and because humiliating the Texans is our birthright as a fanbase. The best case scenario involves a dominating defensive performance and a healthy VY running all over the Texans while the camera pans to multiple shots of Bud Adams sitting in a luxury suite drinking champagne, pantomiming Bob McNair, and laughing while holding up a copy of the 2006 draft. Looking at the respective performances against our common opponent so far this season, Jacksonville, that isn't far fetched. There is going to be no shortage of motivation on either side this week either way. It should be a great game.
1. Wondering whether Ronde Barber's left or right buttock counts more when deciding whether he hit the ground out of bounds is one of the strangest conversations I've ever had. Being in a noisy sports bar and completely unable to hear Dierdorf and Gumbel weigh in on this particular topic was a small mercy. Oh, and it looks like Gumbel is winning the massive facial swelling contest so far this season, but Dierdorf is catching up. Come on Dan, you can do it. A few more club sandwiches and some hypothyroidism and you're golden.
2. We would be better off running this offense with 4 tight ends. Seriously. Huge dudes who can make shoestring catches over the middle, go up after the ball and take a hit, block when protection breaks down and VY takes off... We don't have a real deep threat anyway and VY hasn't hit on any of those long balls the last few games even if we did. When we draft a WR next season I want the guy with the softest hands and the highest vertical leap, I don't care if he runs a 5.0 flat. If Yao Ming played football I'd draft him.
3. Someone once said John Gruden looks like Sting with a toothache. I think he looks more like Sting with a large bowel obstruction. I imagine the only time he's ever laughed was when he was calling Chris Simms a wuss for complaining about his ruptured spleen. He's a good coach, but man what a tool. I think that permanent aura of burning hate bordering on outright disdain swirling about his head is the real cause of global warming.
4. If Brown is out this week we'll get to see if Henry has made any progress opening both his eyes after he gets the ball. Jones-Drew is also built like a 5 foot tall cannonball, and absolutely rolled Houston this week. You'd hope Henry can come in to relieve White and do the same, and it's time to see if that second round pick was justified.
5. I'm going to tell my office mate that KEYE is showing the Titans game again this week just to piss him off, he's not bright enough to figure out that we're playing each other until Thursday or so anyway, and by then he'll have written several boycott letters and launched into multiple Vince already graduated! diatribes. This time of year it's like shooting fish in a barrel.