Texas NFL fans getting short-changed
There haven’t been many times when both the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans/Oilers have both had disappointing seasons. But after hitting the half-way point in the 2010 NFL season, it certainly looks like both sets of fans will not be too happy in January when the NFL playoffs begin.
The Cowboys are completely toast with their 1-7 mid-season mark. And even the Houston Texans’ 4-4 worksheet halfway through the season is a lot worse than what was expected when the season began back in September.
Sunday’s games added to the frustration of fans in Houston and Dallas as the direction both teams are headed was merely verified by the results. Houston, which appeared to be on the road to victory over San Diego in the first half, changed its game plan in the second half and ended up losing 29-23. The Cowboys were creamed at Green Bay 45-7.
The Texans were leading the Chargers 20-14 late in the second period and had a huge edge in the statistics, out-gaining San Diego 125-46. Running back Arian Foster had carried 11 times for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub hit Foster for an apparent three-yard touchdown pass, but it was ruled incomplete after replay confirmed that Foster didn’t maintain possession when he hit the turf.
For some unexplained reason, Foster held the pass with one had, crossed the goal line and then went to the ground. The ball rolled out of his hand when he was several feet into the end zone. Apparently the rule about a touchdown occurring whenever the plane at the goal line is broken is not what the game officials are using any more.
In order for a pass to be ruled a completed touchdown nowadays, it seems to this Korner that the receiver must catch the football, take six or seven steps in the end zone, light up a cigarette and still maintain possession.
This would have given the Texans a 27-14 lead at half time and certainly would have changed the entire complexion of the final score. However, Houston held the football for 11:53 of the third period and still led 23-21 going into the fourth quarter.
But for some unknown reason, the Texans abandoned the running game after Foster had over 100 yards and failed on all four third-down conversion attempts.
The key play was a pass that bounced off wide receiver Andre Johnson’s leg and was ruled an interception by Chargers safety Paul Oliver who made what the replay officials later called a shoestring catch at the San Diego 9 with 1:19 left that killed any chance for a Houston victory.
In the Cowboys’ debacle, after a scoreless first quarter, Green Bay scored on three lengthy drives, with the fourth touchdown occurring when Dallas return man Bryan McCann appeared to be down before fumbling the ball away. Green Bay’s Nick Collins returned the football for a touchdown, giving the Packers a 28-0 lead before the half.
One of the biggest differences between the poor starts by Dallas and Green Bay, who both had Super Bowl aspirations, is that the Packers, after losing in overtime to Washington (16-13) and Miami (23-20) to see their record drop to 3-3, rallied to beat the Minnesota Vikings 28-24 and then shut out the Jets in New York, 9-0 before walloping the Cowboys Sunday night 45-7.
Now the Cowboys’ lost season reached a new low point and owner Jerry Jones spoke to reporters after the game, making it clear that changes could be around the corner in Big D.
“There are a lot of people that certainly are going to suffer and suffer consequences,” Jones said.
Jones planned to meet with the coaching staff Monday afternoon, according to NFL Network insider Albert Breer. The meeting is not part of their Monday routine, according to the source.
Jones, seated in a private box at Lambeau Field, didn’t make any direct references to the job security of Head Coach Wade Phillips. He said last week that there wouldn’t be any midseason coaching change, however, the nature of Sunday’s loss re-ignites speculation that Phillips won’t complete a fourth season in Dallas.
By mid-afternoon on Monday Jones backed off of his promise not to make any mid-season changes and fired Phillips, making assistant head coach Jason Garrett the interim head coach and naming former Syracuse Paul Pasqualoni as Phillips’ replacement as defensive coordinator.
The interim tag could be removed if Garrett is able to prove himself over the remainder of the season. However NFL’s “Rooney Rule” could cause the Cowboys problems in the off-season. The “Rooney Rule was established in 2003 and requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head football and senior football operations opportunities.
Garrett has received criticism the past year and one-half for his offense racking up big numbers but not being able to produce in the red zone. And unlike Phillips, he is not nearly as popular with the team as Phillips was.
When asked what areas needed to be improved, Jones wasn’t sure where to start. “I can’t put my finger on it because I don’t have enough fingers,” he quipped.
Speculation is that Jones wants Bill Cowher to follow Phillips, but with the other jobs that probably will be out there (Carolina, San Francisco and perhaps even Houston) only Jacksonville and Minnesota are clearly less attractive options for a coaching candidate.
Another big decision Jones needs to make is should he remain general manager of the team? Jones became general manager 21 years ago, after he bought the franchise. Although he has 21 years of experience in the job, it’s a job he was never really qualified to have in the first place, so how much better at it could he really be?
Now that things are bottoming out for the Dallas Cowboys, Jones can either hire a coach who has the ability to find good players—like Mike Holmgren—or he can hire a general manager.
Jones really should do the latter and should step as far aside as his ego will permit. It’s apparent his way is not working, so he needs to try a new way. And he needs to do it before he has trouble filling up his new billion dollar stadium.
KWICKIES…Sunday was also a bad day for the Seattle Seahawks, who were steamrolled by the New York Giants 41-7 Sunday. Orange’s Earl Thomas had four tackles, two of which were solos.
Green Bay safety Nick Collins was fined $50,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cowboys’ wide receiver Roy Williams. There will be no suspension for Collins, which seemed a possibility because of the severity and unnecessary nature of the hit. While Collins lost money, Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Kurt Coleman will not be punished for his hit on Colts’ wideout Austin Collie.
When Penn State rallied from being three touchdowns down to Northwestern Saturday, the 35-21 win really was special for Head Coach Joe Paterno. The victory gave the 83-year-old coach his 400th career win, leaving him just eight wins shy of second-place Eddie Robinson of Grambling. John Gagliardi has 477 with Division III St. John’s, Minn.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, who have never lost a game when leading by 20 or more points, hung on by the skin of their teeth to down the Bengals in Cincinnati 27-21 on Monday Night Football. The Bengals drove the ball downfield in the final two minutes where rookie receiver Jordan Shipley was jarred loose of the pass on a fourth-and-five situation from the 10 yard line.
JUST BETWEEN US…The firing of Wade Phillips Monday afternoon wasn’t exactly a surprise to this Korner, but I thought Idiot owner Jerry Jones should have waited until the end of the season. However Phillips didn’t know he was getting fired until after the local television reports leaked out. Cowboy assistant coaches and Phillips’ agent told reporters they didn’t know anything, either. But if the team doesn’t show any improvement under Jason Garrett, it will give Jones the go-ahead to renege on his promise to make Garrett his next head coach and to hire a well-qualified candidate like Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden or Mike Holmgren—something very un-Jerry Jones-like.