What a difference three months make
Just about 90 days ago Southeast Texas football fans were all excited about the start of the 2013 National Football League season in general and the Houston Texans in particular.
After getting to the playoffs two years in a row and winning the first game each time, things were really going to happen for our guys who play their home games at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
There were more than mere whispers and murmurs about getting over the hump and winning the American Football Conference championship and getting a shot at playing in the Super Bowl.
The players believed it. Most of the coaching staff thought it was a great possibility. The Houston Chronicle beat writers wrote about it freely throughout training camp. And the loyal fans definitely bought into the Super Bowl idea.
Even after the first two regular-season games, the Super Bowl dream still was the No. 1 topic of conversation around the water coolers. The ardent Houston Texans fans just knew this was going to be the year where they go farther than any Oiler/Texans team has gone in the playoffs.
Those first two games turned out to be Houston victories only after the team overcame huge deficits and rallied for last-second wins that should have been losses.
These two games brought a few of the football realists to their senses that those close wins that were almost losses could very well be foreshadowing what may happen in the very near future.
And how right those skeptics were, because today—three months and 10 straight losses later— instead of talking about playoffs and Super Bowls, these fans are now wondering who the Houston Texans will select as the No. 1 pick in the May NFL draft.
If you think we’re jumping the gun talking about being the worst team in the NFL to garner the No. 1 pick in the draft, then think again. Going into this week’s action, our Houston Texans were one of four NFL teams with only two wins.
On Sunday Jacksonville upset the Browns 32-28 in Cleveland, Minnesota nipped the Chicago Bears 23-20 in overtime and Atlanta rallied to defeat the Buffalo Bills 34-31 in an overtime game played at Toronto. This leaves the Houston Texans alone in this week’s NFL standings with only two wins in their 12 games played so far.
The strangest phenomenon of this lousy record is that the Las Vegas Boys had Houston favored in 10 of those 12 games. The Texans were underdogs only when they played at San Francisco and got clobbered 34-3, and Sunday when the New England Patriots came to town as a seven-point favorite and escaped with a 34-31 nail-biter.
And except for the four distressing losses that occurred when Matt Schaub was the starting quarterback, the six Houston losses with Case Keenum under center were games the Texans could have won on their last possession by 1, 3, 3, 5, 7 and 3 points. But without a bona fide healthy starting NFL running back, that chore was impossible.
However, Keenum’s performance Sunday against the mighty New England Patriots was his best so far and gave a smattering of an indication that he can become a “real” NFL quarterback.
Keenum gave Pats’ quarterback Tom Brady as much trouble as Peyton Manning did last week before Brady took his game to another level and pulled out the victory.
But with a 2-10 record, the only thing left for the Texans besides winning the final four games of the season is to consider who would be the best collegiate player to draft next spring.
Quarterback would be the biggest need and there certainly will be several who could step right into the NFL and win a starting job.
The Internet is full of wishful thinkers who would love to see Johnny Manziel exit College Station and come out for the draft and remain in the state as the Houston Texans’ top pick.
The Aggie fans who would be crushed to see Manziel go pro two years early believe the talk of the Texans selecting the A&M quarterback first would probably make Manziel decide to remain an Aggie for at least another year rather than go to a cellar-dwelling franchise like Houston.
In fact tomorrow night’s NFL game between our Texans and Jacksonville has been dubbed the “Bridgewater Bowl” with the loser probably getting the first pick and taking University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is rated as the best pro quarterback prospect in college football.
Believe it or not the Houston Texans are favored by 2 ½ points in tomorrow night’s Thursday Night Football game at Jacksonville.
Those boys in Vegas will never learn!!!
KWICKIES…While playing the night version of Saturday’s day-night five-man scramble at Sunset Grove Country Club, Craig Couvillion chipped in a birdie from 60 yards in the pitch dark with only a glowing flagstick for guidance. Our team, which included Craig, Kenny Ruane, Bob Hoepner, Richard Duffee and I finished four-under par in fourth place. Playing golf at night with a glow-in-the-dark ball is a strange sensation but plenty of fun.
Before the Monday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks kicked off, ESPN pointed out that the game would be a cat-and-mouse strategy session between Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Seattle’s defensive captain Earl Thomas at strong safety. Apparently our hometown hero made all of the correct calls because the Seahawks’ defense held the Saints to a single touchdown at whipped New Orleans 34-7 to become the first NFL team to clinch at post-season berth in the playoffs.
The McNeese State Cowboys will host Jacksonville State on Louis Bonnette Field in Lake Charles at 6 p.m. Saturday in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision Tournament. The Gamecocks dismantled Samford 55-14 last Saturday in the first round and boast an 8-3 record. They posted regular-season victories over North Alabama (24-21 in OT), Georgia State (32-26 in OT) and Southeast Missouri State (42-34) and suffered losses to Murray State (35-34 in OT), Tennessee State (31-15) and Eastern Illinois (51-14). The Cowboys are slightly favored Saturday night.
The University Interscholastic League on Monday unveiled new enrollment cutoff numbers that would add a 6A classification for the 2014 Texas high school football season. The new enrollment numbers would elevate Vidor to Class 5A, move Little Cypress-Mauriceville and Bridge City to Class 4A Division I, put West Orange-Stark and Orangefield to Class 4A Division II and move Deweyville to Class 3A Division II along with Newton. This new classification system will be only for football.
The Washington Redskins were eliminated from the NFL playoff picture with a controversial 24-17 loss to the New York Giants Sunday night. The ‘Skins were driving and thought they had a first down when a member of the officiating crew had the chains moved signifying a first down. But the head ref said it was third down and one AFTER Washington tried a long pass that fell incomplete and then had to punt. A mix-up like that should never happen in an NFL game or even a Pop Warner game.
The Vinton Lions season ended Friday night when they were shut out 13-0 by Winfield. The Lions surrendered a touchdown on a bad snap that sailed into the end zone, a field goal and two safeties, again by bad snaps on punting situations. But they finished the season 10-3, which was a very good year.
This week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll was re-arranged somewhat thanks to the final play of the Iron Bowl game between then top-ranked Alabama and state rival Auburn. The Crimson Tide tried a kick a 57-yard field goal on the final play of regulation with the score tied 28-28. The kick was short and fielded nine yards deep in the end zone by Auburn’s Chris Davis who returned it 109 yards for a touchdown and a 34-28 Tiger victory. Today Alabama dropped from No. 1 to No. 4, and Florida State moved up one place to No. 1, Ohio State moved up one to No. 2, Auburn came up one spot to No 3 while Missouri remained at No. 5 after beating Texas A&M 28-21. Oklahoma State jumped one place to No. 6, Stanford came up one spot to No. 7, South Carolina moved up two places to No. 8, Baylor remained No. 9 and Michigan State came up one spot to No. 10. LSU moved up one place to No. 14 while Texas A&M slipped three slots to No. 22 and the Texas Longhorns returned to the poll in the No. 23 spot.
JUST BETWEEN US…The West Orange-Stark Mustangs were tested to the max by a very talented Jasper team Friday night in the Class 3A Regional semifinals at Turner Stadium in Humble. The Mustangs had trouble stopping the Bulldogs’ runaway freight train of a back, Terrance “Tiki” Cuney, who blasted through the Chain Gang Defense for 225 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. But when the chips were down and the ‘Stangs needed a late touchdown, sophomore quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole once again dazzled, leading WO-S on a 67-yard, six-play scoring drive that gave the Mustangs a hard-fought 18-16 victory and the right to advance and meet defending state champion Carthage (12-1), which mutilated Silsbee 49-6, at The Butch Stadium in Beaumont. The Mustangs and Carthage will meet for the Regional championship 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Butch.