NFL season begins for real today
Now that all 32 National Football League teams made their final cuts to 53 players on each roster, the regular season is about to begin tonight (Wed.) with our Dallas Cowboys meeting the World Champion New York Giants on national TV at The Meadowlands.
Jerry Jones has not been nearly as vocal this summer about his team being a prime candidate for making it all the way to the Super Bowl like in previous years, but there certainly is a lot of that kind of optimism coming from the Bayou City about the success the Houston Texans are expected to enjoy this season. However, the key to the Texans’ success this season is the avoidance of injuries to key personnel which somewhat hampered them in the latter part of last season.
Quarterback Matt Schaub and his backup Matt Leinart both went down with season-ending injuries forcing Head Coach Gary Kubiak to depend on untested rookie T. J. Yates to carry the load, which he did.
All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson missed more games than he played because of a couple of aggravating injuries. And Super Mario Williams tore a pectoral muscle early in the season and spent the remainder of the schedule on injured reserve. However, rookie J.J. Watt filled in so adequately for him, the Texans weren’t that upset when Williams opted to sign with Buffalo and didn’t even try to match the ton of money the Bills offered him.
On paper, before the grueling 16-game season begins, the Houston Texans look like a very solid franchise, deep with talent at every position. The Texans had to waive a passel of good talent just to get down to the league-required 53-man final roster.
Schaub is healthy and solid at quarterback as he enters his contract year in his sixth season. He knows Kubiak’s offensive system inside and out but must stay healthy for the Texans to be a bona fide Super Bowl contender.
Running back Arian Foster may be the best all-around back in the league for which the Texans rewarded him with a new contract. Foster and his back-up Ben Tate could very well be the best one-two punch in the NFL. The third back is newcomer Justin Forsett, who set a franchise record for the most rushing yards in a preseason game. And these backs wouldn’t be nearly as effective if it wasn’t for the tremendous blocking of the offensive line, which seems to get better each season.
The Texans led the NFL last season in time of possession—on average, more than 32 minutes– thanks to the great blocking of this offensive line. The defense of first-year coordinator Wade Phillips was one of the best in the league and promises to be even stronger this season. However, the caliber of competition promises to be stronger also in 2012.
And when it comes to strong competition, the Dallas Cowboys will have all they can handle tonight (Wed.) in the opening game of the 2012 season.
The World Champion New York Giants will feature their tenacious defense that recorded 48 sacks and carried them through the 2011 playoffs and into the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys’ inexperienced offensive line will have their hands full trying to block the Giants’ defensive stalwarts. The big problem is that Dallas’ five starters up front have yet to play a game together because of injuries and have had only limited practice time in which to gain the chemistry necessary for most NFL offensive lines.
Another big question mark is the availability of All-Pro tight end Jason Witten, who has been sidelined during most of the exhibition season with a lacerated spleen. He was scheduled to have a CT scan Tuesday to determine his availability for the Giants’ game. Today’s opening game also will feature the use of the “fill-in” game officials, who have worked the entire exhibition season because the NFL locked out the referee’s union. Many of these will be going from supervising small college games to policing football’s best athletes in front of raucous crowds of 75,000 or more.
Perhaps this first week of replacement game officials will stimulate both the NFL and the referee’s union to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement. That’s what happened in 2001 when the league used replacements for the first week of the regular season before a new contract was finalized. Otherwise 2012 could be a long, hard season for everyone concerned.
KWICKIES…Although two prominent quarterbacks from the Lone Star State were waived by their NFL teams during Friday’s final roster cut-down—University of Houston’s Case Keenum by the Houston Texans and former Texas Aggie Stephen McGee, who was the Dallas Cowboys’ No. 3 quarterback—Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill will be the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins when they visit the Houston Texans Sunday at noon in Reliant Stadium. However, the Texans are a solid 10 ½-point favorite over the Dolphins.
Like we mentioned in last week’s Korner about the over-abundance of David-against –Goliath college football games, one school that played tough against a Division I school was my alma mater McNeese State which upset Middle Tennessee State 27-21 on the road.
Unfortunately, the Lamar Cardinals didn’t have any luck against Division I foe Louisiana-Lafayette as the Ragin’ Cajuns rolled up 40 first-half points and then backed off as the big Red failed to score a point. Things will get much better for Lamar against schools their own size.
The University of Houston Cougars suffered one of their most humiliating losses in school history when former Southland Conference member Texas State marched into Robertson Stadium Saturday and walloped the Coogs 30-13 before some 32,000 partisan fans who expected U of H to be on the other end of that lop-sided score.
Former West Orange-Stark Mustang Mark Roberts caught an 18-yard pass for the Coogs. Thank goodness the college football season has arrived and many of the Houston Astros mis-matches are being pre-empted for a football game. Winning only one game a week (maybe) is not what Astros’ fans are looking for.
JUST BETWEEN US…The rain-shortened 53rd annual Labor Day Invitational Golf Tournament hosted by the Men’s Golf Association at Sunset Grove Country Club concluded Monday afternoon. The first day of the annual event was washed out by inclement weather Saturday, but the final two rounds were completed Sunday and Monday.
The Professional Flight was won by Greg Sonnier, who fired a course record 62 Monday. There was a tie for second place between Orange’s Michael Arnaud and Garrett Driver, who finished four shots behind Sonnier’s 134. Chris Rieve was fourth with 139.
Other winner’s included: Championship Flight– 1.Richard Scully 2. Michael Cerndsek 3. Jared Landry 4. Zane Caillier; First Flight—1.Michael Prince 2. Maurice Prince 3. Mike Johnson 4. Ernie Dyer 5. Jeremy Green; Second Flight—1. Aaron Norman 2. Chris Forster 3. Dwayne Mims 4. Raymond Nugent 5. David Benoit; Third Flight—1. Justin Babcock 2. Kelly Cordova 3. Donnie Mires 4. Ken Ruane 5. Johnny Hargrove 6. Dale Peddy; Fourth Flight—1. Matt Purghan 2. Tom Rigamonti 3. Robert Sims 4. Dale Dugas; Fifth Flight—1. Clay Richards 2. Brent Williams 3. Jerry Carlisle 4. Jimmy Sims 5. Joe Kazmar 6. Ronnie LaSalle 7. Bill Ellison; Sixth Flight—John Prince 2. Dwayne Duck 3. Zack Padgett 4. David Kosboth; Senior Flight—1. John Hanes 2. John Griffith 3. Bob Hoepner.