[EDITOR’S NOTE: Ted Johnson won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and every week he’ll give us his takeaways from the week that was. Now you can hear him on the “Fred & Ted Show” on SportsRadio 610]
Ted’s Takeaways – Week 15:
1. The more things change….. The more they stay the same:
Like an idiot I thought the Texans would play a competitive game against the Colts on Sunday. I mean they had a new HC (Wade Phillips) a new OC (Rick Dennison/Karl Dorell) a new DC (Vance Joseph) and a new ST Coach (Bob Ligashesky). Wade Phillips changed the practice schedule and emphasized problem areas for this team like Red Zone efficiency. Btw…they didn’t even make it to the RZ on Sunday to see if practice made perfect! I was disappointed that even though both sides of the ball had new signal callers we saw absolutely nothing different from the Texans. The most intriguing storyline for me going into the game was how the new coordinators would call the game. Unfortunately they called it the exact same way their predecessors called it and got similar results.
2. I think we can put to rest the talk of Wade Phillips becoming the Texans new Head Coach:
Besides being curious what the new coordinators would do in this game, I was also looking to see what kind of effort the players would give their new HC. A huge selling point for Wade to Bob McNair would be that the players play hard for him. I used to play hard for Bill Parcells when he was my coach because he had such an emotional investment in seeing me do well. He frequently took me aside to talk to me about my career and what he thought of me as a player. The fact that he cared about me on that level made me want to do everything I could not to disappoint him. I used to think players viewed Wade Phillips like that…..now I’m not so sure. I didn’t see guys busting their asses on Sunday for Wade and that’s not good considering he’s openly lobbying to be the next HC of the Houston Texans. Lastly, when a team has a lot of penalties like the Texans had (14/144 yards) it highlights a lack of effort. When guys get called for penalties it’s because they are not focused and got sloppy. Not being focused enough means to me the guys don’t care enough to give the effort it takes.
3. DO NOT judge Vance Joseph moving forward based on how the defense played
Vance Joseph (Secondary Coach) was promoted to DC since Gary Kubiak was fired and former DC Wade Phillips was elevated to Interim HC. He called the plays on defense for the first time in his career on Sunday. I was excited to see what his impact on the game would be considering he’s been touted as a potential DC in this league. Quickly it became evident we weren’t going to see anything different from Vance than we’ve seen from Wade. The Texans played WAY TOO MUCH man-to-man coverage like they always do and got burned like they always do. To be fair…. If Vance changed what they’ve been doing all year it essentially would be an indictment against Wade (his boss). So with that in mind, I can understand why we didn’t see much difference when he became the signal caller last week.
4. What’s the point of playing Ben Tate at this point?
Even though Ben Tate has played well this season, especially when you consider he’s played with broken ribs, I think it’s time to shut him down the rest of the way. I’m intrigued by what Dennis Johnson can do for this team in the future so if it were up to me I’d play him exclusively – like they are with Case Keenum. DJ has some explosiveness and toughness that this team needs more of. Why not give him the rock the rest of the way and see if he can be a viable backup for next year?
5. It was fun while it lasted:
Let’s be honest, we all thought for a brief moment that Case Keenum might be able to turn this lousy season around for the Texans. His poor play on Sunday highlighted what’s been a disturbing trend to his play lately. He still struggles to get the ball out on time and like Matt Schaub, he gets locked in on Andre Johnson way too many times resulting in interceptions or incompletions. Case Keenum coming in to replace Matt Schaub was a cute little story at a time when we were all desperate for something good to happen. Sunday convinced me he’s going to struggle to even have a backup role on this team down the road.
6. The cupboard might be more barren than we think:
I’ve never been one of the people saying this team is better than its record indicates. Yes this team has star players on the roster but I think the supporting cast is rather weak. I’ve been critical of guys like Jared Crick/Shilo Keo/Brooks Reed/Whitney Mercilus/Brice McCain/Derek Newton/Wade Smith/Keyshawn Martin/Brandon Harris because those guys play A LOT and make little to no impact on the game. Some of those guys are actually liabilities on the field in my opinion. Now that the season is almost over I’d grade this draft class a C+. The Texans missed on too many players that they drafted this year. A franchise can’t survive having back-to-back average draft classes. Rick Smith needs to hit on next year’s draft because the Texans have so much “dead money” that rolls into next year’s cap that the Texans will be limited in what they can do in free agency.