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Opening Day: Wait 'Til Next Week

The day really couldn't have gotten off to a better start. All the folks wearing Liberty White, the team in all-white and the U.S.S. Texas crew members on the field for the anthem added to the festivities. And the Texans really got the afternoon rolling on their first drive, putting the ball in the end zone on the Carr-to-Moulds hook up.

Gradually, the game began to erode into another frustrating loss. The offense couldn't keep the QB upright, and the defense had trouble getting to the QB. I realize that sentence has a familiar ring to it, but let's not go out on the ledge just yet.

Here are the primary concerns and at what level (using the Homeland Security Advisory System) we should regard them:

*Severe:

Inability to run the football effectively.* The Texans' entire offense feeds off the run. The bootlegs didn't work Sunday because the ends and linebackers weren't respecting the run. When the Texans handed off, all too often it was for three yards or less or even a loss on the play.

Getting pressure on the Quarterback.The Eagles converted way too many 3rd-and-long and 3rd-and-medium plays. Sure, the Texans have to stop the run, but when they did force McNabb into an obvious passing situation, he would pick up the first down with a nice throw. He was bailed out twice by tough catches, but the damage was done.

*High:

Stopping the run.* Brian Westbrook averaged four yards per carry last year, so he's no slouch. But if the Eagles can run like that on Houston, you have to be concerned what some of the better ground games in the league might be capable of.

Keeping Carr upright.We've heard this before. A couple of times maybe Carr could have gotten rid of the football, but if the Texans had put the same pressure on McNabb that Carr had on him, we might be celebrating right now.

*Elevated:

Kickoff returns. *The kick return game is in the infirmary with Mathis out until mid-October and Buchanon injured. Someone has to step up. Houston needs better field position on kickoffs. Come to think of it, fewer kick returns would be a nice start.

*Guarded:

QB play.* Carr didn't get the team in the end zone after the first quarter, but he hardly stunk the joint up. In fact, it was nice to see Andre Johnson getting a 100-yard day and Eric Moulds getting the ball. Once the running game gets going (please), the passing game is going to flourish.

Fan reaction. I suppose it was inevitable, but too many people and media members are ready to write off this season after one game. The Texans didn't lose to Appalachian State. The Eagles are 20 months removed from a Super Bowl appearance and appear to be headed back to greatness.

Give Gary Kubiak and his staff time to make some corrections and get things moving forward. The fans understandably want results in year five. But it's year one of the Kubiak era, and we should give this staff time to marinate before making sweeping generalizations about the future of the franchise.
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