EDITOR'S NOTE:Texans fan Alan J. Burge will continue to write a "Voice of the Fan" column throughout the 2005 season. His latest installment is below. Alan's views do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.
Keeping it close
If I hear that phrase one more time, I swear I'm going to lose it. More on that later.
As I drove into work this morning and started thinking about the game on Sunday, that twinge of excitement came over me. It's the feeling you get when you look forward to going out to the stadium on a Sunday in the fall to tailgate and watch the home team play. After the first three games of the season, I didn't know I still had it in me but I do.
"It" never leaves. Sometimes "it" goes into hiding but it's always there. "It's" that inexplicable thing that keeps NFL fans coming back to the stadium week after week even if the product on the field is nowhere close to meeting expectations.
That doesn't mean we're satisfied just because the NFL is back in town - far from it. Judging from my weekly email, there's a whole lot of p-o'd Texans fans out there right now – and rightfully so. The team is one of the worst in the league at present and everyone, players, coaches, and management up to and including GM Charley Casserly should be held accountable.
Casserly, who appeared on SportsRadio 610 Friday morning on his weekly radio show, was asked the following simple and straight-to-the-point question by a caller named Peggy: "Mr Casserly, the Texans had been improving every year (record wise) since the first season and now it's looking as if they have regressed. To what do you attribute the current Texans' problems? Thanks and I'll hang up and listen."
Casserly's response went along the lines of "if we knew what was wrong, we would fix it," citing a Sonny Liston boxing analogy. And "let's wait until the season is over before we say we've regressed." Liston, for those who are unaware or under 40 years old, was a world champion boxer back in the 1960s.
Anyway, that answer left me a bit mystified and while I know that it's unreasonable to expect the GM to open the secret vault to Joe Fan (or in this case Peggy and the few thousand others listening), you would think that his response would have been more than a shrug.
The Texans fired an offensive coordinator two weeks ago and benched two defensive starters so we assume all is not well. Acknowledging ones problems is the first step to solving them. I guess we will have to rely on deeds and not words for our information.
Oh well. So here we are again, hoping for a complete game in all three phases, looking to improve every week. I'd settle for an old fashioned butt kicking that would send Bud's boys back to possum…errrr…Nashville with their tails between their legs. Do you have it in you, Texans?
This leads me full circle to the "keeping it close" mantra.
I really like Dom Capers. He's a gentleman and true professional and I truly want him and his staff to succeed. But the "we'll try to keep it close and win it in the fourth quarter" mantra is wearing thin. We've heard the approach justified because most games are decided by less than a touchdown. Wrong.
In Week 4 alone, eight of the 13 games were decided by 10 or more points and five of those were decided by 17 or more points. And that wasn't an unusual week. It happens all the time.
The "keep it close" approach may make sense when you play on the road against top teams like Pittsburgh or Indy or New England, but look at how Marty Schottenheimer took his Chargers on the road to New England last week and crushed the Patriots. Do you think that keeping it close was on Mike Shanahan's mind when he took the Broncos into Jacksonville last week and hammered the Jags? Probably not.
The danger with the keep it close philosophy is that it could send a message to the players that it's okay not to score on every drive especially when the opponent doesn't score in return. Or maybe I'm way off base and it simply sends the message that we're not good enough.
Can you tell the "it" went back into hiding? Don't worry, it will show up again during the drive out to Reliant Sunday morning. See you there.