Kaz’s Korner

Joe Kazmar

For The Record

When one thinks about winning teams in the National Football League, there usually is a high-powered quarterback whose name is familiar to everyone that is the key to the success of that particular franchise.

But that’s not necessarily true anymore as many “unknown” quarterbacks are the reason for their respective team’s early victories.

High profile quarterbacks like New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Kansas City’s Alex Smith and Seattle’s Russell Wilson are lucky to even have a win after two games while Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are directing the victories for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants, respectively.

Other teams finding early success after two weeks of action—our Houston Texans, the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and even our Dallas Cowboys–are finding the victory column without having big name quarterbacks. Some of these unfamiliar names may need understudies this week due to injuries.

The Texans have big Brock Osweiler, Denver has Trevor Siemian and the Cowboys have rookie sensation Dak Prescott as their signal callers while the Patriots may need to call on third stringer Jacoby Brissett after Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt Sunday and Minnesota may have go back to Shaun Hill after Sam Bradford went down Sunday night.

The Texans paid big bucks ($72 million) to land Osweiler and so far it seems to be a sound investment as the 6-8 former Denver Bronco led the team to a 4-0 record in the preseason and appears to have picked up where he left off by starting the “real” season 2-0 so far.

Of course the real key to Houston’s success so far has been its disruptive defense which has allowed only one touchdown and forced several field goal attempts as was very evident in Sunday’s 19-12 win over nemesis Kansas City.

Osweiler has been able to take advantage of the blazing speed of rookie wide receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller at wide receiver to go along with All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins as his long-range targets.

And that has made things easier for running back Lamar Miller who came over as a free agent from the Miami Dolphins. He has been a workhorse, gaining nearly 200 yards on more than 50 carries, especially in the latter stages of the game when Houston is trying to protect their lead.

Houston will play another nemesis tomorrow night—the New England Patriots—up at Foxborough before a national audience. Although the Pats have not been very nice to the Texans up there, Houston is a 2½ -point favorite.

The Dallas Cowboys are not undefeated, but they very well could be because they blew a chance for a long, game-winning field goal in their 20-19 loss to the New York Giants on opening day.

But the Cowboys made one of the smoothest transitions to rookie backup quarterback Dak Prescott whenever starter Tony Romo went down with another back injury in the first preseason game.

Prescott stepped in and ran the team well for the rest of the exhibition season and then looked just as good in the first two weeks of the regular season. He helped that ugly statistic of the Cowboys being 15-4 when Romo was healthy and 2-13 without Romo.

It looks like the offense runs very effectively with Prescott at the controls, suffering no turnovers and completing 77 per cent of his passes. He completed 22-of-30 passes for 292 yards and rushed for a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 27-23 win over the Redskins Sunday.

As far as many Cowboys fans are concerned, there is no particular hurry to get Romo back too quickly. In fact an ESPN poll Monday showed 62 per cent favored Prescott remaining the starting quarterback to 38 per cent for Romo coming back.

The Seattle Seahawks are having their problems offensively for two big reasons—quarterback Russell Wilson’s still-swollen ankle is preventing him from moving around in the pocket and scrambling for yardage and the offensive line is fairly new and quite weak in run and pass blocking.

Defensively, the Seahawks are just as good as they’ve ever been, giving up only one touchdown in eight quarters. Unfortunately, Seattle has scored only one touchdown, and that was the game-winner in Week One when they rallied to defeat Miami 12-10.

In Sunday’s 9-3 loss at Los Angeles, the Seahawks dominated the statistics but only got close enough to successfully make the one field goal they tried. And that wasn’t nearly enough.

The Vegas Boys still have faith in them scoring and have made Seattle a 9½-point favorite over San Francisco Sunday.

KWICKIES…The talk of the town last weekend was about the high school football game between cross-county rivals Little Cypress-Mauriceville and Orangefield. The score was tied 35-all at then end of regulation and both teams scored a touchdown in the overtime period. The Battlin’ Bears, who won the flip and chose to go last, went for the two-point conversion and won 43-42. It was a great win for LCM and a tough loss for the Bobcats.

The Houston Astros are still hanging to a playoff possibility by the skin on their teeth as time continues to be their enemy. They’re encountering teams they have defeated handily this season, but it just may not be enough to nail down a playoff berth.

Louisville’s 63-20 blowout win over then No. 2 Florida State catapulted them from No. 10 to No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press College Football top 25 Poll. Alabama hung on to the top spot and Ohio State moved up one notch to No. 2 with their win over Oklahoma. Michigan, Clemson, Houston and Stanford retained their positions from No. 4 to No. 7, Michigan State jumped up four places to No. 8, Washington dropped one slot to No. 9 and Texas A&M hurdled from No. 17 to No. 10. Baylor moved up five places to No. 16 while the Texas Longhorns slipped from 11th to No. 21.

Port Arthur Memorial and Texas Longhorn star running back Jamaal Charles missed Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans Sunday but should be ready to return to action Sunday when Kansas City plays the New York Jets. Charles suffered his second ACL tear and has been recuperating and rehabbing for just about a year.

JUST BETWEEN US…A baseball pitcher from Pearland, Pablo Salazar III, who was selected in the 11th round by the St. Louis Cardinals in last year’s Major League draft, claims in a lawsuit that he could have been drafted much earlier and higher and received a larger signing bonus if it weren’t for an error made by a hospital in Houston. Salazar claims a labeling error was made by the hospital on radiographic images during surgery commonly used to examine and treat joint damage. Three years before he was drafted, Salazar had an arthroscopic procedure on his pitching elbow. Instead of noting the image was taken of his right elbow, the hospital’s radiological records identified the body part as the right hip. Elbow problems are common for pitchers and generally won’t prevent them from playing in the major leagues. But hip problems can keep a pitcher sidelined and are a red flag to the teams scouring the medical records for signs of looming health problems. His agent predicted Salazar would be selected between the fourth and eighth rounds. The base slot signing bonus for an 11th rounder was around $100,000, while a higher round would have doubled or tripled that amount. His lawyer is Paul Gertz of Beaumont. The lawsuit, which accuses the hospital of negligence and deceptive trade practices, is seeking unspecified damages.