Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 10/17/13
Houston, we have...wait, no – that line can't possibly be used again, right? I won't do it, I can't do it; you all deserve better. Seriously, though, the Houston Texans are dealing with all sorts of issues at present. The most recent of which came at the hands of the St. Louis Rams, who delivered a Texas-sized beat down in Houston on Sunday afternoon, coasting to a 38-13 victory. What went wrong? Aside from Arian Foster having his best game of the season with 198 total yards from scrimmage, everything went wrong. The defense was embarrassed, Matt Schaub got injured, head coach Gary Kubiak was questioned again, Houston's fan base acted repulsively, and backup quarterback T.J. Yates picked up right where Schaub left off. This Sunday afternoon meltdown begged the questions: What happened to the Houston Texans? Can they still salvage their 2013 season? What does their future hold? First, a little history. 2002: A New Beginning The Houston Texans came into the league in 2002, five years after the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee to become the Tennessee Titans. With the reset button being pressed in Houston, an expansion draft was put in place. ESPN's John Clayton breaks down the rules of the expansion draft here. The most important points are: “The Texans must select between 30 to 42 players or use 38 percent of their $71.7 million cap -- $27.2 million -- of their 2002 salary cap” and “The Texans assume the contract of the players they select. They inherit all signing bonuses, any guarantees and any other terms of the deal.” Lastly, teams who compiled their lists aren't required to keep all of their players listed once one of them has been chosen. “The Texans will have three minutes to select a player. An existing team has two minutes to pull back a player from their remaining list. If a second player is taken, the existing team can pull back its remaining two players.” Houston's Expansion Draft: Big Names, Bigger Problems The draft came and went, and with it, a handful of notable names were selected. The Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and Baltimore Ravens were all dealing with salary cap issues at the time, so they used this draft to unload some of their unfavorable contracts. The first selection for the Texans was Jacksonville's LT Tony Boselli. At 30 years old, Boselli had five Pro Bowls under his belt and was viewed as the foundation for the Houston Texans. “Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver admitted that exposing Boselli in the draft was the 'most agonizing and distasteful move' he ever had to make," but said it was “unavoidable” with his team's cap situation. Boselli never played a down for the Houston Texans. Ever since Jacksonville's team physician Carlos Tandron performed a surgery on his shoulder, Boselli has constantly expressed regret. He stated “From the time I had that first surgery, my [left] shoulder has never been as good as it was before the surgery. I would have had a way better chance of playing if I had never had the surgery.” Boselli retired in 2003 at the age of 31, and the Texans would continue to deal with tough luck. Past to Present: From Dom Capers/David Carr to Gary Kubiak/Matt Schaub Dom Capers was selected as the head coach of the Texans in 2001, well over a year before the Texans started playing. Having already helped build a team from the ground up in the mid-90s, Capers was immediately at the top of Houston's list. "He's been through the process before with Carolina,” owner Bob McNair said. 1995 marked the first season of new expansion team, the Carolina Panthers. As head coach, Capers led his team to a 7-9 record, the most wins by an NFL expansion team in their first season. In his second season, the Panthers finished 12-4 before losing to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. It took Capers two seasons to make something out of nothing in Carolina, but the Panthers combined to finish 11-21 in his next two seasons (4-12 in 1998). Capers was fired after the 1998 season and landed in Jacksonville (another expansion team) as their defensive coordinator for two seasons before being hired by Houston. Capers never again achieved the success that he did with Carolina in 1996, though. In four seasons with Houston, Capers's Texans combined to finish 18-46, with a 2-14 finish in his final season (2005). With the first overall selection in the 2002 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans chose David Carr, quarterback out of Fresno State. Carr was supposed to be the franchise quarterback, the man Houston could rely on for the long haul. He wasn't. In five seasons as Houston's quarterback, Carr threw 59 touchdowns to 65 interceptions, had a total completion percentage of 60%, and a QB rating of 75.5. Those are hardly the numbers you look for from your franchise quarterback,. In 2007, the Houston Texans released Carr. In 2006, Gary Kubiak was hired as the new coach of the Houston Texans. From 2006 to the present, Kubiak has led his Texans to an overall record of 61-57, with back-to-back division titles in 2011 and 2012. With a new regime came the call for a new quarterback. In March of 2007, the Houston Texans and the Atlanta Falcons completed a deal for unproven backup Matt Schaub. With this trade, the Texans and Falcons swapped first round picks in the 2007 NFL draft (Texans had the eighth pick, Atlanta had the tenth pick). Houston also agreed to send Atlanta their second round pick in 2007 and 2008. The era of David Carr had come to an end. It was time for the unproven but promising backup to show what he could do. 2007-Present: The Matt Schaub Era Matt Schaub has never broken records; he never will. Through his first six seasons in Houston, he has been nothing short of solid; reliable. Taking into account the six games he's played this season, Schaub has a QB rating of 90.9 with the Texans. He's thrown 122 touchdowns to 73 interceptions, has eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark three times, and has a respectable completion percentage of 65%. If I were starting a team today, Schaub wouldn't be the quarterback I'd build around, but his history shows that he wouldn't be that bad of an option, either. Then, the 2013 season reared its ugly head. 2013: The Decline of the Houston Texans? Coming off back-to-back division titles, the Texans sit at 2-4 through six games, currently third place in the AFC South. Their turnover differential is -12, which ranks 31st in the league. Last season, the Texans gave up 323.2 yards per game, ranking them 7th in the NFL. This year, the Texans have given up a league-best 252.8 yards per game, good enough for first place. So how are they 2-4? And what has happened to Matt Schaub? On both accounts, it comes down to turnovers. As previously stated, the Texans have the 2nd-worst turnover differential in the league. The only team with a worse turnover differential is the New York Giants (-16). It's not just how many times the Texans have turned the ball over, it's been how they've turned the ball over. Going into their match-up against St. Louis, Matt Schaub had thrown an interception that was returned for a touchdown in four consecutive games. Against the Rams, he wouldn't make it a fifth straight game, but backup TJ Yates couldn't help but carry on that tradition. Week 5-6: Schaub's Struggles, and the Line between Fan and Fanatic. In Week 5 after another uninspired performance in which the Texans were defeated by the San Francisco 49ers 34-3, it was reported that fans of the Texans showed up at Matt Schaub's house to berate him. “No arrests were made," the CBS report said. The fans left on their own before police could respond. The report also said one fan "took photos of Schaub's family.” If true, this would be a deplorable act. You can scoff at the poor play of an athlete all you want, but it is never okay to go to somebody's house and approach them about it. Remember, athletes are human beings, too. Sure, they get paid an outrageous amount of money, but they have lives outside of their public one. They have families. How would you like it if somebody came to your home to tell you off for poor work performance? How would you like it if somebody came to your home and took pictures of your loved ones? However, on Wednesday, October 9, NFL vice president of security Jeff Miller provided more details on the incident. Houston Police said they were not called to the home, as previously reported: 'In this case, Monday afternoon, a vehicle pulled into his driveway, an unidentified individual yelled obscenities. The police department is involved. We've been in contact with them as we normally would for anything like this. And because it's a team issue, they have a security director, we work with them.'” Then there was this: Matt Schaub goes down injured against the Rams, and a handful of “fans” cheer. The cheers grew louder when backup TJ Yates ran on to the field. I won't even comment on how disgusting that is; I'll leave it to the players. I will say those fans got exactly what they deserved: TJ Yates promptly threw an interception that was returned 98 yards for a touchdown. Week 7 and Beyond: The Future Looks Cloudy After suffering an ankle injury against the Rams, Schaub's status is uncertain for Sunday afternoon against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans have rolled with TJ Yates before, but he's hardly the long-term solution. In six games for the Texans this year, though, Schaub hasn't provided much of an answer either. He has thrown for 8 touchdowns to 9 interceptions, he's averaging just 258.7 yards per game, and holds a career-low quarterback rating of 78.8. If the Texans are to be successful once again, it starts with Schaub and ends with the defense forcing more turnovers. If the Texans continue to collapse, it should spell the end of the Gary Kubiak Era. He's had a decent run; he led a team from the bottom of the barrel to back-to-back division titles, but in the sports world it's always, what have you done for me lately? The Texans aren't functioning, their fan base appears to be in tatters, and their franchise quarterback is lost. Perhaps now would be the perfect time for another reset.
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