Texans Flirt With Success, Bandwagon Jumpers Sure to Follow

Fan loyalty is like a marriage, for better or for worse

Hard-hitting rookie linebacker Brian Cushing
Hard-hitting rookie linebacker Brian Cushing (Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans)

Being a Texans fan is like … well, I'm not sure what to compare it to. It's rough, that's for sure. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride as they say. The Titans wearing Oilers throwback jerseys in their 59-0 loss to the Patriots last Sunday doesn't help either. At least Bud Adams' Family were thoroughly embarrassed by the Tom Brady Bunch on national TV.

But I know one thing, when they do finally make the playoffs, every casual football fan in this state is gonna jump on their bandwagon along with many national sportswriters and talking heads. And that will annoy me to no end (not that it takes much to annoy me, just any of my previous significant others). Where's the reward in that? It's like people born in Texas following the Yankees or the Lakers. It shows no character or loyalty in following a team solely because they win. In fact, it shows a lack of character and is most definitely a sign that these pathetic fools weren't raised right. I hate 'em, one and all. And they will make the playoffs. I'm thinking 2010 is their year.

They've been steadily building a playoff-caliber roster since Gary Kubiak came on board as head coach but they've always been missing a couple crucial pieces. Let's start with the strengths.

Andre Johnson is the best wide receiver in the league. I don't care what you say about Larry Fitzgerald, Andre is No. 1. A no-doubt Hall of Famer. Not convinced, check out his stats. And that's with Johnson being double-teamed throughout his career. Kevin Walter is a solid Wes Welker-esque receiver while Jacoby Jones is threatening (successfully) to take Andre Davis' spot as their No. 3. Davis and Jones and both capable of taking any punt of kickoff back for 6.

Matt Schaub, on his good days, is up there with Brees, Brady, and (not quite) Manning as one of the NFL's dominant quarterbacks. He leads the league in TDs (14) and has shown signs of brilliance in his better performances. But when he's bad, the Texans, and their weak running game, are sure to lose.

The Texans offensive line is looking a little less penetrable as in years past but is too small for the big push they've needed during crucial goal-line plays this season. But protecting Schaub is a good start and right tackle Eric Winston is a beast, despite his lack of tattoos.

Tight end Owen Daniels is having an exceptional year and may even earn a spot on the All-Pro squad. His one-handed TD catch against the Bengals last week was a work of art. His best catch, ever.

On the other side of the ball, defensive lineman Mario Williams and middle linebacker (aka defensive QB) DeMeco Ryans are both having quietly solid years and 2009 first-round pick Brian Cushing is going a long way to bringing a toughness and hard-hitting attitude to a D that has been sorely in need of it. Cushing has risen to the status of fan favorite, and for good reason, he plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. Smashmouth!

That being said, there are still some huge holes to fill before the Texans play at a consistent championship level. Schaub is off and on from game to game. Running back Steve Slaton is coming off a stellar rookie season but has looked flat in all their games except for the last two, and in those he's been more of a threat as a receiver than a running back. Chris Brown is not the answer behind him, nor is Ryan Moats. Too bad Houston passed on Cedric Benson. Until the Texans address their red zone issues, expect them to lose plenty games they'd otherwise win.

The defense has wasted so many draft picks on ineffective linemen it's a joke, and no one is laughing. Their backs, besides Dunta "Pay Me Rick" Robinson, are as inexperienced at best, and prone to give up big plays on the ground and in the air. New addition at safety Bernard Pollard is giving fans some hope though with his aggressive play.

Still, I love 'em. Always have and, sigh, always will. So next year when they make the playoffs for the first time, don't ruin it for me by talking about how you've followed them since the beginning. Because you haven't. And I know, I've been the lone Texans fan in sports bar more times than I can count, watching them lose on the small TV in the corner, yet never giving up hope, steadfast in my loyalty.

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houston texans, brian cushing, andre johnson, matt schaub, steve slaton

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