A Fan’s Notes from the Seventh Week of the NFL Regular Season.
The road to the Super Bowl is long, winding through 17 weeks of the regular season (R), and then a narrowed field navigates a month-long playoff tournament. Every team imagines they are on their way to Houston, host to this year’s Super Bowl . . .
Big NFL News: Houston’s Not Going to the Super Bowl
The Houston Texans flopped again in a big game, losing 27-9 to the defending Super Bowl champions, the Denver Broncos, in a game that saw Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler turn in an historic performance as a passer. Only a couple of other quarterbacks in the Super-Bowl era have averaged fewer yards per attempt than Osweiler’s 3.2 while trying more than 40 passes in a game. This means that, as has been the problem in several games so far this season, the Texans aren’t getting the ball downfield in the passing game. In a great example of the on-air talent doing their homework and helping the viewer understand what they are seeing in the game, ESPN’s Monday Night Football announcing team pointed out a part of what’s going wrong.
On a play where Pro-Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins went inside while Osweiler threw the ball outside, Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden explained that one of the complexities of Coach Bill O’Brien’s offense is that receivers run “choice routes” based on the coverage. For that to work, the quarterback and receiver have to see the same thing and make the same decision. Osweiler was throwing into double- and triple-coverage all night, and it was only because his throws were so inaccurate (and because a couple of defenders dropped potential picks) that he wasn’t intercepted. The quarterback doesn’t seem to understand where the ball should go.
With evident problems at quarterback, and with a defense weakened by numerous injuries (especially in the secondary), the Texans aren’t going to the Super Bowl. Most likely they will play in and lose a Wild Card playoff game. Who’s going to the Super Bowl? I still like Dallas and New England. The Cowboys had a bye week, and the Patriots kept right on rolling, beating Pittsburgh 27-16.
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Big College Football News: Houston’s Not Going to the National Championship Game
The University of Houston and its football program had bad week. First, the Big 12 decided not to expand, denying Houston a conference upgrade. Then, perhaps as a consequence, the Cougars laid a big egg in Dallas, losing to SMU by a score of 38-16 (a loss that also entailed a major recruiting karma crunch). None of this can be good for the university, since as part of their strategic bid for “athletic competitiveness” they decided to sink money into a new stadium and new coach (buying out Tony Levine to pay Tom Herman a lot more), on top of all the debt the school has run up on new buildings (cited in the university’s own publicity as in the neighborhood of $1 billion, relative to an annual budget of $1.7 billion). In terms of football, it was a gamble that with a better stadium and coach and team, the Cougars could move up to a better conference, with better television revenues, and play in better bowl games (the ones that pay real money). In the span of a single week,
the chances of that gamble paying off went way down.
Personally, and this is strictly a matter of opinion, I wonder if the president and chancellor who made these decisions, Renu Khator, will be hoping for a victory for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and either a cabinet assignment or the ambassadorship to India, where Dr. Khator is a major celebrity for her success in America (the first Indian American to lead a major research university). Such a move wouldn’t come out of the blue. Dr. Khator has already served on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and was recently named to an advisory committee of the Department of Homeland Security. Like a football coach or politician, she could move on and move up and leave it to someone else to clean up the mess left behind.
Coach Buffoon, Back in the House!
In addition to his Big Brain Offense proving a bit too much for his quarterback to handle,
Coach “Big Brain” Bill O’Brien showed more of his clock-management struggles in winning the Coach Buffoon honors while losing the game at Denver. In the last half of the fourth quarter, down 24-9 (only two scores, mind you), the Texans took forever to call and run their plays–you can bet Gruden and McDonough pointed it out to the TV audience. It got worse, too. After letting the clock run way down, O’Brien finally called a time-out on a 4th-and-10 in scoring position. Even with all that time for his Big Brain to operate, O’Brien couldn’t get the job done–the Texans came out and Osweiler had a pass attempt blocked. Turnover on downs! Coach Buffoon!
Apparently Fox Sports 1 has a show which features Shannon Sharpe arguing with Skip Bayless. Can you imagine? Aristotle, Plato, Socrates . . . all spinning in their graves. That’s not arguing, you idiots!
The Good News!
The World Series started. Another week when sports can largely drown out the bitter end of a bitter political campaign season. Hoorah for sports! Or, you could start reading my book:
Farewell to Football? An American Fan’s Examination of Conscience. Click here to order a copy in paperback or Kindle format.