Injuries To Key Players Hurting Texans and Cowboys

As the second half of the 2014 National Football League season is in its infancy, it has become apparent that the two Lone Star State’s franchises—the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans—are headed on a path to mediocrity because of injuries to some key players.

The Cowboys, who were the talk of the league two weeks ago when they boasted an NFL-best 6-1 record, hit a two-game skid right after that. 

And it was no coincidence that losses to the lowly Washington Redskins last Monday night and the high-flying Arizona Cardinals Sunday were a direct result of the Cowboys missing their talented veteran quarterback Tony Romo, who was injured by a bone-crushing sack by the Redskins’ linebacking corps.

Romo went to the locker room and turned the quarterbacking chores over to veteran Brandon Weeden, who led the Cowboys to a quick touchdown and field goal and reduced the Pokes’ deficit to a field goal.

When the Cowboys got the football for their game-winning drive late in the fourth period, idiot owner Jerry Jones announced that he thought Romo could return to the game at that point. Romo did return, but failed to get Dallas into scoring position and as a result, the 10-point underdog Washington Redskins won the game 20-17.

Romo was later diagnosed with having fractures on two small bones in his back and was definitely out of Sunday’s game against Arizona. 

However, the good job Weeden did on his two-drive substitution of Romo that produced 10 points against Washington disappeared Sunday against the Cardinals as he threw two interceptions and couldn’t get the offense cranked up and into the end zone until the game was out of reach.

And for the 18th straight time, the Arizona defense didn’t allow a running back to hit the century mark. What that meant is that Cowboy star back DeMarco Murray failed to get 100 yards rushing, ending his NFL record streak of gaining at least 100 yards rushing in the first eight games of the season. Murray rushed for 79 yards on 19 carries.

The Cowboys are hopeful Romo will be able to return Sunday for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars that will be played in London. The team left Dallas early this week with Romo on board.

The situation is similar but different for the Texans who have dropped four of their last five games and stand at 4-5. Granted, this is much better than last year when they were 2-7 at this point, but it’s better because Houston doesn’t play again until Nov. 16 at Cleveland and should have time for their sick and injured players to get healthy.

The Texans had five of their first-team players that did not finish Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, although two of them (linebackers Jadeveon Clowney with the flu and Brian Cushing with a sore knee) were inactive for the Eagles game.

But starting cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson and star running back Arian Foster left the game with injuries and did not return.

Joseph and Jackson were injured before halftime, Joseph with a concussion and Jackson with a knee injury. Foster left the game for the locker room before the third quarter ended to get treatment for a groin injury.

When the two cornerbacks went down, the defense suffered somewhat, but when Foster exited, the running game grinded to a screeching halt. Foster had 56 yards on 15 carries and also caught a 56-yard touchdown pass.

The defense had a decent game, forcing four turnovers and converting three of them into Houston touchdowns and for the fourth time in nine games, got close enough to beat a good team.

The inconsistent offense has been singled out as the reason these winnable games don’t result in Texans victories. Part of the blame falls on veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, while a lion’s share rests on the shoulders of Head Coach Bill O’Brien, who also is the offensive play-caller.

“It’s just way too inconsistent, and it has to get better” O’Brien was quoted as saying about the 31-21 Philadelphia win in Monday’s edition of The Houston Chronicle. “I’ve got to figure it out with the coaching staff.”

The Texans converted 15 first downs to Philadelphia’s 30 and were out-gained 483-300. Fitzpatrick completed a season-low 13 passes on 27 attempts for 203 yards with one picked off. He had a mediocre 82.8 quarterback rating and was sacked four times.

This is the reason veteran offensive stars Andre Johnson and Foster cringed when it was announced last spring that journeyman reserve Fitzpatrick would be the Texans’ starting quarterback. Johnson caught just two passes for 12 yards Sunday, his fewest in a game since 2006.

“We’re just not making plays when they need to be made,” said Johnson. “That’s what separates the good teams from the others. It’s not rocket science.”

After the game O’Brien said that “everything” will be evaluated during the off-week, including Fitzpatrick’s status as the starting quarterback.

I bet that backup quarterback Ryan Mallett gets a good long look by O’Brien and the offensive coaches during the next two weeks. 

A change at this point in the season usually isn’t good, but what we’ve seen in four of the last five games isn’t either!!!

KWICKIES…A tip of the Korner Kap is in store for Sunset Grove Country Club member Willie Bednar who made a hole-in-one Friday on the 130-yard, Par-3 No. 14 hole. He made the ace using a five-iron.

And while on the subject, I played golf last Tuesday on my birthday and if it weren’t for two bogies on the final three holes, I would have shot my age. But the 75 was the best round I’ve ever shot at Sunset Grove.

As expected, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs won the District 9-4A-Division II championship with a convincing 42-21 victory over previously-undefeated Hardin-Jefferson Friday night at Sour Lake. The ‘Stangs finished district play at 4-0 and were 8-2 overall, with losses to state-ranked Houston Foster and Newton. It was the Mustangs’ 10th district title in 11 years. WO-S catches a bye this week before starting the state playoffs next weekend.

The 2014 World Series between two wild card teams went the entire seven games with the San Francisco Giants crowned the new world champs. The Kansas City Royals made the series very interesting while the Giants’ left-handed pitcher Madison Bumgarner made the difference as  San Francisco won their third World Series in five years.

And while on the subject of major league baseball, the Minnesota Twins announced Monday afternoon that they have hired former Twins player Paul Molitor as their new manager.

There was a slight shake-up in the first five of this week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll as Auburn and Alabama switched places. The Tigers are now No. 3 while the Crimson Tide slipped back to No. 4. Mississippi State retained its No. 1 position with Florida State still No. 2 and Oregon still No. 5. TCU shot up from tenth to No. 6, Michigan State moved up one spot to No. 7, Notre Dame slid down two places to No. 8, while No. 9 Kansas State and No. 10 Baylor each moved up two notches.

JUST BETWEEN US…The much-publicized duel between the NFL’s all-time top two quarterbacks—Denver’s Peyton Manning and New England’s Tom Brady—was won by the Patriots’ gun-slinger who connected on four touchdowns as New England (7-2) easily won their fifth straight game, 43-21. This halted a four-game winning streak for Denver (6-2). It was the 16th match-up between the two great quarterbacks, but wasn’t much of a duel after the first period. Manning fell to 2-7 at Gillette Stadium and 5-11 overall to Brady, even though he threw for 438 yards and two touchdowns. Brady passed for 333 yards in a game that marked his 200th career start.