Coming Up
  • Tue., Nov. 25, 2014 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM CST Verizon Texans Players Show

    Meet Texans fullback Jay Prosch and running back Jonathan Grimes at the Verizon Pasadena Store, 5575 Fairmont Pkwy., Pasadena, TX 77505.

    Lots of Texans prizes & giveaways!

    Player(s) subject to change.

    Autograph info:

  • Tue., Nov. 25, 2014 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM CST Duane Brown Live at Houston Texans Grille Join Texans offensive lineman Duane Brown every Tuesday from 6-7pm at the Houston Texans Grille (12848 Queensbury Ln, Houston, TX 77024), then stay Texans Live from 7-8pm.  Lots of Texans prizes & giveaways
  • Sun., Nov. 30, 2014 12:00 PM CST Titans at Texans The Texans host the Titans at NRG Stadium.
  • Tue., Dec. 02, 2014 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM CST Verizon Texans Players Show

    Meet Texans offensive linemen Derek Newton and Ben Jones at the Verizon Northline Store, 4400F North Freeway, Houston, TX 77022.

    Lots of Texans prizes & giveaways!

    Player(s) subject to change.

    Autograph info:

  • Tue., Dec. 02, 2014 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM CST Duane Brown Live at Houston Texans Grille Join Texans offensive lineman Duane Brown every Tuesday from 6-7pm at the Houston Texans Grille (12848 Queensbury Ln, Houston, TX 77024), then stay Texans Live from 7-8pm.  Lots of Texans prizes & giveaways
  • Tue., Dec. 02, 2014 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM CST Player Signing at Academy Sports + Outdoors

    Meet Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph and 2 Houston Texans Cheerleaders at the Academy Sports + Outdoors located at 11077 Northwest Freeway (Hwy 290 @ 34th St.), Houston, TX 77092.

    Celebrity(ies) subject to change.

  • Fri., Dec. 05, 2014 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CST Texans Friday: Jack in the Box

    Friday, December 5
    Noon-1pm – Jack in the Box, 1665 W. FM 646 Rd., League City, TX 77573
    Proudly wear your Texans gear to get 2 FREE Tacos for this hour at this location
    Houston Texans Cheerleaders signing autographs and taking pictures
    Jack in the Box is going to be giving away 4 tickets to a Houston Texans home game and two autograph items

  • Sun., Dec. 07, 2014 12:00 PM CST Texans at Jaguars The Texans travel to Jacksonville to face off against the Jaguars.
  • Tue., Dec. 09, 2014 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM CST Verizon Texans Players Show

    Meet Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson at the Verizon BLVD Place Store, 1700 Post Oak Blvd.,
    Houston, TX 77056.

    Lots of Texans prizes & giveaways!

    Player(s) subject to change.

    Autograph info:

VanderBlog: Training Camp Unofficially Underway

Posted by voiceofthetexans on May 27, 2013 – 3:01 pm

by Marc Vandermeer @TexansVoice

It’s off season practice time at the Methodist Training Center. Some media types will tell you it’s no big deal. But those connected to the game sing a different tune. Welcome to the 2013 season. It’s in progress. Now is the time to step up and get ready.

Rookies take this to heart. It’s their first taste of NFL action and they hit field at 100 miles per hour. Keyshawn Martin told me it’s different this year. He knows the difference between honing your game in practice and laying out in a regular season game setting.

Yet we see Andre Johnson flying around the field. JJ Watt taking nothing for granted as he does what he can to make plays in a practice setting. Matt Schaub, directing his teammates to execute with precision so game situations are second nature.

It’s on!

But it’s only May!

If you pay attention to Houston sports, you’ve either heard the stories or actually experienced it as a spectator. In days of yore, training camp was six weeks long, in places like San Angelo. These days, such stories sound as out of date as The Junction Boys.  But the ramp-up time to the season was much needed.

In the ‘Luv Ya Blue’ era of Houston professional football, off-season programs were not nearly what they are today. Players needed the extra time to get into game shape. But OTAs (Organized Team Activities) are part of the modern version of those visits to San Angelo.

Yes, they are at the team facility, so there is no traveling. And they also come after five weeks of a supervised conditioning program that includes plenty of drills to make sure players hit the ground running for the first practice. But these five weeks of preparation, including mini camp, will almost be all the players need to be ready for the preseason.

By July 26, when ‘real’ training camp begins, most of the players will be in optimal physical condition and ready to go. They will have two weeks before the first preseason game and might know 80% of what they need to know to begin the regular season.

So these weeks in May are crucial to installing offensive and defensive wrinkles and trying players out in different spots and situations so the coaches have a feel for what works best.

You want to see Brooks Reed at Inside Linebacker? Let’s try it. How would Brian Braman look as a starter? Let’s see. The team has an opportunity to flesh out what they’ve been discussing in their off season meetings.

The thing all players need, particularly rookies, is repetition. Watching the Texans operate in practice is like watching musicians go through their scales or watching a pro golfer hit shot after shot on the practice tee. The only way to get better is through multiple tries at the same thing. Execution must become familiar so raw athletic ability is optimized.

Texans Recievers Coach Larry Kirksey has coached players like Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Herman Moore and Andre Johnson. Of the thread that connects the great ones, he says, “They all work extremely hard.”

What made Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson so good? Sure, they were all blessed with outstanding athletic ability but anyone around their teams will tell you that no one worked harder. They all loved to practice and get better.

Why do pro golfers continue to work with swing coaches and basically ‘get lessons?’ Because that’s the only way they will stay sharp and improve.

These days are crucial to the success of the Texans campaign. Teams that hit training camp with major questions are unlikely to do well. Many of the games on your 2013 schedule are being played and won right now.

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VanderBlog: 10 Years After Andre, Hopkins Dazzles at Rookie Camp

Posted by voiceofthetexans on May 12, 2013 – 12:17 pm

by Marc Vandermeer  @TexansVoice

Ten years ago, Andre Johnson took part in a rookie camp for the Texans. The number three overall pick was catching passes from third round selection Dave Ragone. It was not as pretty as it could have been. He had some drops. Ragone’s southpaw clockwise spin (from the receiver’s view) was an adjustment for Andre. Also, the velocity was a factor. Johnson said at the time “I’m in the NFL now. I have to make some adjustments. The ball was coming a little faster. You just have to learn. I’m a rookie so I just have to start all over again.” You had the feeling everything would be OK.

And it was.

Back to now. Ten years later, the only other receiver taken by the Texans in the first round is putting together a display that makes your announcer think it won’t be long before he’s officially the second best receiver in the history of the franchise. Gary Kubiak says Hopkins’ ball skills are “extremely special.” And “he’s gonna help us early.”

Hopkins was the best player on the field this weekend. He was sometimes as wide open as Andre Johnson can inexplicably be. When covered, he still found ways to make plays. He had at least one catch on a ball that was behind him that could have been used in his feature on the TV show Sports Science.

He gets open, catches everything and was second in the nation in TD receptions. He had 13 catches for 191 yards and two TDs against an LSU defense that, all told, had six players drafted.

Any questions?

More from Rookie Camp…

Running Back Convention

It’s hard to tell. But you know the people in this organization pride themselves, and for good reason, on striking oil where no one else would drill. They even brought in Deji Karim who killed them with a kickoff return for a TD for Indy last season. After watching these guys operate, it’s hard to imagine there’s not at least one serviceable NFL back in the group. Kubiak said that three would come to camp. That’s in addition to Foster and Tate.

Are You Sure He’s Not A First Rounder?

D.J. Swearinger made a terrific pick on Saturday and just looked the part of an NFL play-making safety. He’s confident and appears to have the ball skills to go along with the physical presence to give the Texans that dual-role interchangeable safety they were looking for.

Most Improved

Of the players who have been on ‘Texans Campus,’ Case Keenum is the biggest revelation. He had utter command of the huddle. His passes were sharp. He made plays ‘off schedule.’ He looked like a leader. What does it mean long term? Who knows? But he is clearly better and at least might make things very interesting for the back up competition.

Better Than We Thought

Collin Klein has been working hard. You can see it. Jake Plummer knows what Kubiak wants and he has tutored Klein to fit the part. He looked much better on day two than day one and Kubiak said he saved his best for Sunday. This is where an NFL Europe or some sort of developmental situation would really come in handy. Speaking of Plummer, anyone else surprised he’s mentoring football players? He walked away from the game in his prime. I thought this meant he might be farming in rural Colorado or meditating on a mountain top.

The Eye Test

Some players jump out physically. Not just size, but they “look the part.“ Ryan Griffin, the 6th round TE from UConn is a large man (6-6, 247) who can hit hard, run fast and catch (laymen description). Justin Tuggle, the OLB and former QB from Kansas State jumps out at you from across the field (6-3, 244). Alan Bonner, the 5-10, 193 pound WR from Jacksonville State certainly doesn’t have Hopkins’ size. But he plays with passion and does whatever it takes to make plays.

Tune in to Texans All Access Tuesday 12-2pm on Texans Radio -SportsRadio610 for more on the rookie camp. Case Keenum will be among the guests.

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VanderBlog: New Schedule – The Perils of Prediction

Posted by voiceofthetexans on April 21, 2013 – 6:14 am

by Marc Vandermeer @TexansVoice

This year’s schedule looks tough and probably will be. But the truth is, you never know how a schedule will play out. Below are some examples of match-ups and situations that didn’t go down as advertised. Circle a win or loss on your schedule with great care. ‘Easy’ opponents often turn out to wolves in sheeps’ clothing. Sometimes tough games can be a lot smoother than you thought.
2012 Finish
When last year’s schedule was released, didn’t we all look at the final three games (2 vs. Indy and one against Minnesota) and think we could pencil in all three as wins, or at least two? Who knew that the Colts and Vikings would be playoff teams and Houston would go 1-2 against them, wiping out home field advantage in the playoffs.

2010 Season
You would have gladly taken a split against Indy (with Manning) and Washington to start the season. Instead, The Texans went 2-0. No one on the planet could have predicted a 2-10 finish low lighted by the hail-Mary loss to the Jags, and last minute defeats to San Diego, Baltimore, the Jets and the Tebow-led Broncos.

2009 Opener vs. the New York Jets
New coach, rookie quarterback. A Texans win was a virtual lock. Not really. The Jets dominated the game, holding Houston’s offense without a touchdown as Mark Sanchez looked amazing. My, how times have changed.

2004 Opener vs. San Diego
The Chargers were coming off a 4-12 season, they drafted Phillip Rivers and Drew Brees was supposed to play a Steve DeBerg type of role to usher in the new quarterback. Well, Brees performed brilliantly, reinventing himself, and the Chargers won, launching a 12-4 campaign.

2004 Finale vs. Cleveland
The Texans won back-to-back games on the road against the Bears and Jacksonville. Surely they would beat a weak Cleveland team to finish 8-8 for the first time. Nope. The Browns won and the Texans went 7-9. The loss should have been a wake up call but the Texans had an unproductive off season and stumbled through a 2-14 season the next year.

2002 Season
A four win season was not out of the question but it’s who the Texans beat that was a surprise. The opening night win over the Cowboys was a shocker. The win at Jacksonville surprised many. The fact that the Texans beat two playoff teams (Pittsburgh, New York Giants) was unthinkable.

We’ll highlight some of these on Texans All Access (Tuesdays, 12-2pm, Sports Radio 610) Tell me what I left out.

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VanderBlog: Are the Texans better now than last season?

Posted by voiceofthetexans on April 1, 2013 – 11:11 am

The simple answer is we don’t know yet. The draft has yet to occur and there are still a lof of questions that need to be answered. But things are rounding into shape and there is reason to believe that the team would fare better in some of the tough situations they were in late last season.

After giving up over 40 points twice to the Patriots, not to mention 28 in the must-win-for-home-field-adavantage game at Indy, Houston needed a B-12 shot on defense. Well, one figures a healthy Brian Cushing, Brice McCain and Ed Reed subbing for Glover Quin might make a difference.

Sure Conner Barwin is gone, but Whitney Mercilus should (better) be fine. The Texans drafted Mercilus hoping Barwin would stay but knowing they needed a Lloyds of London policy in case he departed. The 2012 first round pick looked good in limited action last season.

And seeing James Casey go to Philly with Barwin was no fun for Texans fans who loved seeing a state native and Rice alum do good things for their team. However, Greg Jones was a big pick up. Jones can lay people out as a blocker. And, while he’s not the receiver Casey is, he can still provide some occasional statistical production.

The big question is still at wide receiver. Losing Devier Posey for extended time late in the playoff loss to New England was a kick in the teeth. Kevin Walter is gone and Keyshawn Martin and Lestar Jean are not locks to be big time producers. The draft has a lot of enticing options but can they thrive in their first year? This should be interesting.

There are other areas that need attention as well. Right Tackle Derek Newton is coming off knee  surgery. He should be OK but there’s no one behind him that’s ready for prime time as a swing tackle or possible starter. Daryl Sharpton would start at ILB next to Brian Cushing but he had an already abbreviated season cut short for the second straight year. Help must arrive through the draft and maybe free agency at that position

Donnie Jones had a nice season punting the football. However, getting Shane Lechler is huge. He’s one of the best ever at his position and, to make things more fun, he’s an Aggie and his wife is from Katy.

Rosters are always under construction. And this project is far from finished. But, so far, the upgrade is headed in the right direction.





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VanderBlog: Texans Looking for ‘Super’ Combine

Posted by voiceofthetexans on February 23, 2013 – 12:23 pm

by Marc Vandermeer

WVU Speedy WR Tavon Austin

WVU Speedy WR Tavon Austin

The Texans organization is at the scouting combine with an eye toward taking their next big step: win the Super Bowl.

To get there, they not only have to replace some of the players they might lose in the upcoming free agency period, they have to get better.

Rick Smith told me that even though the team gets to meet with 60 players, the position coaches make sure they talk to all 300+ players here.

The buzz among the pundits is that the Texans will take a wide receiver in the first round. Of course, that was the buzz last year and the Texans grabbed Whitney Mercilus then took receivers in the third and fourth round.

Gary Kubiak took questions about everything from special teams to Matt Schaub. He said his QB has more freedom to change plays than people think. That was in reponse to a question about the level of autonomy Schaub has at the line. He also said he’s always looking for quarterback talent and praised Case Keenum (and T.J. Yates). But Kubiak was clear the Texans need more production from wide receivers not wearing number 80.

The team’s linebacker needs also came into question. With Connor Barwin set to be an unrestricted free agent, Houston may need help at OLB. But with Daryl Sharpton hurt and Bradie James and Tim Dobbins hitting free agency, inside backer is a concern. Brooks Reed may have the ability to play inside but that hardly solves all the challenges. Kubiak also pointed out how injuries at inside linebacker hurt the consistency in the special teams line-ups and contributed to a lack of production in kickoff coverage and returns.

Rick Smith was asked about the team’s mental toughness and said that the two years of playoff experience will serve the team well moving forward. He also said that having been through the adversity of not playing as well as needed down the stretch could help in the future.

But the biggest immediate challenge is keeping as much of the group together as possible. With Glover Quin, Barwin, James Casey and Brice McCain possibly hitting the open market, there is much work to be done.

The receiver issue is real. Both Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter are ‘on the wrong side of 30.’ And Devier Posey’s health is a huge question mark going into next season. Keshawn Martin will need to step up.

Receivers coach Larry Kirksey acknowledged on Texans All Access that Martin may have hit a bit of a rookie wall. Martin had to learn all three WR postions and two return spots, so it’s understandable. The second year will be interesting. The same goes for Lestar Jean, who just got through with his first season of action. An incoming rookie would hardly be a sure thing to satisfy what the Texans want out of the position. So it’s crucial that their young players take the next step.

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VanderBlog: Combine Fever

Posted by voiceofthetexans on February 21, 2013 – 10:42 am

By Marc Vandermeer

Media covering one of many press conferences

Media covering one of many press conferences

I’ve always called the NFL Draft ‘The Off Season Super Bowl.’ If that’s the case, then the scouting combine is the playoffs. Hundreds of media members are covering this seven day event.

The media area is packed with an all star roster of natioal NFL talking heads like Chris Mortensen, John Clayton, Mike Mayock and writers and others who’s names who know.

I’m lucky enough to be able to get downstairs in places where other media people don’t have access. I had a chance to say hello to Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who I know from my days as Voice of the Miami Hurricanes.

He, Greg Schiano and I had a mini Hurricanes reunion. It’s easy to reflect on how great Andre Johnson’s career has been and how he and countless other ‘Canes have been a big reason why the 2000 Miami staff has spawned four NFL head coaching jobs, and counting.

The Texans are holding nightly meetings with dozens of prospects. The scouts and coaches find these almost more valuable than the workouts. Sure, the measurables are important. But they all want to see how they interact with other players and how they handle themselves in the interview room.

The Texans send virtually every member of football operations to the combine. The video crew collaborates with other NFL video crews to shoot every workout. They then compile the entire body of work to send to every NFL team. So, every team obviously has equal access to the measurables. It’s what an organization does in private evaulations that makes the difference.

There’s a lot of talk about what the Texans might do with their first round pick (27th). One thing to look out for: expect the unexpected! Last year, no one thought the team would take Whitney Mercilus. Two years ago, JJ Watt was a bit of an upset pick. Kareem Jackson surprised the pundits in 2010. Even Pro Bowler Duane Brown was a bit of a surprise in 2008.

Soon, I will give me thoughts on four players to watch out for in this years’s draft.

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VanderBlog: Texans at the Pro Bowl

Posted by voiceofthetexans on January 27, 2013 – 6:42 pm

Your Texans sent nine players to the Pro Bowl, the most in franchise history and the most in the NFL this year. The AFC still lost 62-35 in an entertaining game despite the lopsided score.

One of the interesting nuggets for me was watching Peyton Manning throw passes to JJ Watt before the game. Watt enjoyed being considered for some offensive action and had a pass thrown his way that went incomplete.

Owen Daniels played a ton and had four catches. Andre Johnson had three. Arian Foster was held to -2 yards on three carries.

It was mix and match on the offensive line as Duane Brown and Joe Thomas had to take turns at right tackle. Wade Smith said he missed being able to play along side Brown.

Matt Schaub threw a touchdown pass to Joshua Cribbs and two picks, one off a deflection. JJ Watt had a sack on Russell Wilson in a preview of a match up we’ll see at Reliant Stadium when the Seahawks visit next season.

It was a day for your Texans to mix with the other top players in the NFL, wind down the season and clear the way for 2013. They all hope to get the invite to come back and they all hope they have to turn it down, to play in the Super Bowl in New York.


Below, there are some one liners that I blogged during the game…( in reverse order)


Luck finds AJ Green for a TD.  55-28 NFC.  All 3 AFC QBs have TD passes. Owen Daniels is playing a ton in this game. Only 2 TEs on each roster.


Wilson is getting a lot of  ‘ooos’ and ‘ahhhs’ in the press box. He just finds a way to make plays.  Btw, AFC fumbles the k.o. return. It feels like a late 80′s-early 90′s Super Bowl has broken out.  #blowout


Russell Wilson has thrown 3 TD passes (58-21 NFC) ….  to Doug Martin, Larry Fitzgerald, then, after the turnover, to Vincent Jackson. Schaub’s line: 12-22 113 yards, 1 TD, 2 int


AFC has pride on the line, plus the winners get $25K extra (25 for the losers). Schaub picked by Earl Thomas early 3rd. Russell Wilson to Doug Martin to make it 38-14. Then, Matt gets clicking with a scoring drive capped by a four yard TD pass to Josh Cribbs. Schaub had an 11 yard scramble along the way (would be his longest of the year). Cribbs didn’t quite hang on going to the ground but no review here. Then, a 92 yard K.O. return to the 15 (longest in PB history if you’re scoring at home).


With Duane Brown in at LT, Schaub throws incomplete to D Thomas (catchable) and Jamaal Charles (catchable but high). Then he gets sacked on third down as RT Joe Thomas fails to stop Julius Peppers.


Ed Hochuli makes the crowd crack up saying “there actually are penalties in the pro bowl” on  P.I. on Champ Bailey in the end zone. Lynch scores after that. 24-14 NFC


Schaub in the game with Myers, Owen, Andre, Wade. Joe Thomas at LT.  Matt hit Andre for 16 yards on 3rd and 15. Then hit D Thomas for 12 yards and a first down at the 50.  Matt’s got a running game to work with as Jamaal Charles is starting to get some chunks. Then…Schaub gets picked looking for Thomas deep…ball deflected into the hands of William Moore.  NFC ball. They lead 17-14 2nd Q


Peyton Manning is 6-12 and a TD but really not moving the team (let’s not get too critical here). Overthrew OD on a 3rd down try (but hey, timing is everything).

Meanwhile, brother Eli throws a ‘pick-6′ to Longhorn Derrick Johnson. I was just about to write that Eli is good for this game with his improv-ability. Oh well. 14-10, AFC


Bad sign for this game…they’re doing the wave already at Aloha Stadium.   1st Q 7-7


So far, Manning has thrown a pass to JJ Watt (incomplete) and taken a snap from his old center, now in the NFC, Jeff Saturday.  Arian getting no blocking, has yet to get a yard.


Andre’s first catch good for 9 yards. Arian 2 carries for 0 yards. You can tell the defensive players are doing a lot of thinking before they hit someone.


Drew Brees hits Vincent Jackson on a deep pass for a TD as Jackson beat Champ Bailey. Had to double check to see which number 24 it was.  7-7


After the NFC turned it over on the first play from scrimmage, Manning threw short to Reggie Wayne. Then there were incompletions to Andre Johnson and JJ Watt. Very strange seeing Watt in there as a receiver but we expected this. He played tight end at Central Michigan, remember. Also strange to see Duane Brown at right tackle. 7-0 AFC.

Another strange sight is two number 24s on defense with Johnathan Joseph and Champ Bailey.

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VanderBlog: Football in Paradise

Posted by voiceofthetexans on January 27, 2013 – 3:28 pm

by Marc Vandermeer

You can see why the players want to rev up the intensity a bit in imagetoday’s Pro Bowl. They’ve heard from the Commish that the game is in danger unless the product looks a lot more like the NFL than what was on display last year.

This is my first go around at the NFL’s all star game. From the players’ perspective it’s a great acknowledgement of their accomplishments. Imagine being in paradise with the best and the brightest in your profession. Your family is there to help you celebrate being elite at what you do. That feeling is one of the huge reasons why the players feel they must keep this event going.

Another is the close contact with the fans. There were four practices this week, all in front of NFL die hards. There is zero pressure in preparing for this game, so the contact that the players have is pure fun. There’s a mutual appreciation of what the NFL is all about. And it’s all in an enjoyable setting that underscores a job well done.

But the future of the Pro Bowl will depend on what comes across on the flat screens on the mainland. The ratings have been terrific, with the game now played the week between the championship games and the Super Bowl. Now, the product must meet the expectations and goals of ownership.

Stay tuned for Pro Bowl blogging today right here and follow me @TexansVoice on twitter for the latest on your Texans.

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VanderBlog: Ravens Prove the Texans Right

Posted by voiceofthetexans on January 22, 2013 – 3:34 pm

by Marc Vandermeer

The natives are restless. And it’s understandable. After all, the Texans blew a chance to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Then, with a shot to get hot in the post season, they fell hard, at New England and watched the Ravens knock off the top two AFC seeds on their way to New Orleans.

The Texans kept insisting (me too) that momentum was a victory away. They were right. The problem was, the Ravens proved it, not Houston.

Baltimore had lost four out of its last five games heading into the playoffs. Not good. No momentum. No chance.

Think again.

The Ravens took out Indy and Denver before stopping Tom Brady.  Now they’re the toast of the AFC.

Concerns about Baltimore in the regular season look silly now.

Lose to the Texans by 30? Didn’t matter. Lose to the Charlie Batch-led Steelers at home? No problem. Lose badly to Denver at home? Who cares?

Gary Kubiak said “you want to be really good at the end.” That sums up the Ravens. And also the Texans, who were far from their best when it mattered most. That’s why the coach was having none of it when media wanted him to comment on occupying the top seed. None of it matters until January.

Joe Flacco is getting anointed now as ‘elite.’ Whatever that is.  He has played phenomenally well in the post season with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Flacco bashers should have given it a rest a long time ago but it took until now to quiet them down. Of course they’ll be back if he throws a couple of picks in the Super Bowl.

Matt Schaub’s regular season numbers are better than Flacco’s. Yards, completion percentage, it’s all there. Even Schaub’s yards per attempt number is higher than that of big-armed Joe. Look it up.

But Schaub is home getting torched for not making enough plays down the stretch. It’s fair to criticize him for that. He’ll be the first to tell you he has to play better ‘at the end’ next year. However, he’s not alone in needing to step up play at the most crucial time of year.

And barring injury or father time wearing down his skills, he will lead this team back to the playoffs with a shot to do things better next time.

But you’re knocking on the wrong door if you think improved QB play is all that’s needed to make the difference next year. The defense can’t be giving up 41 points in a playoff game. Special teams can’t give up touchdowns like the one in Indy for the go ahead score in the second half. All three phases have to elevate their game.

The Ravens, who were smashed by the Texans 43-13 on  Battle Red Day, serve as the latest inspiration for every playoff team with up-hill odds. They won two huge games on the road.  And the AFC and NFC top seeds went a combined 1-2 in the post season.

It took five playoff trips in this ‘new’ era of Ravens football to get to the Super Bowl. They were called chokers. Flacco was ridiculed. They kept improving the team and showing up in the post season party. It finally paid off.

That’s what the Texans need to do. Keep improving, keep getting into the playoffs.

As we all know, getting to the post season can be extremely difficult. The next step is even tougher. What matters most is being great in January.

Easier said than done.

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VanderBlog: It Ends…..for now

Posted by voiceofthetexans on January 14, 2013 – 10:09 am

There is a lot to analyze and debate as a once promising season ended with a crushing defeat with the Texans falling to the Patriots 41-28 in Foxborough. The Texans beat the rest of the playoff field in the AFC with wins over Baltimore, Denver, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. But not the Patriots. And New England took it to them, scoring over 40 points in both match ups.

In the end, we’ll never know what difference clinching home field in the AFC would have made. But it certainly would have been better than playing Tom Brady in his back yard. Brady threw seven touchdown passes in two games against Houston. At Reliant, he probably would not be quite as prolific.

The Texans never really recovered from their late season funk, which saw them lose three out of four games and their grip on the number one seed. Red Zone issues plagued them and they struggled on third down on both sides of the ball. A healthy self-scout should reveal plenty of off season work for this organization.

The loss is especially tough to swallow because the Texans made it their goal to play at home in the playoffs and they failed to do that despite multiple chances. To their credit, they created the opportunity by blasting out of the gate 11-1. But they finished with a 2-4 run that cost them their best shot at getting to the Super Bowl.

There was so much to cheer about. Watt led the league in sacks. Arian Foster was terrific again. Andre Johnson looked as good as ever. Matt Schaub stayed healthy and put up a third 4,000 yard season. The team won their first road prime time game with a Monday Night victory over the Jets. They steamrolled the Ravens by 30, beat Manning on the road and prevailed in a showdown on a sloppy field in Chicago that showed their grit. They stung Jacksonville in overtime with Schaub throwing for 527 yards, tied for second best in NFL history. That win was followed by an epic overtime Thanksgiving day victory in Detroit. They eventually stonewalled the Bengals for their second-ever playoff win.

If the joy is in the journey, then it’s been a fun ride. Unfortunately, the finish will still lead the epitaph. A team that looked almost invincible became way too vulnerable at the worst time of the year. When the Texans were rolling early, Gary Kubiak was asked about the hot start. He said “you want to be real good at the end.”  They weren’t good enough.

In 2011, it was all about getting to the post season. In 2012, it was about getting home field advantage and getting to the Super Bowl. The focus has changed. The expectations are higher. In previous years you heard debates about what the team needed to do to make the playoffs. Now, they’re about what’s needed to get to the Super Bowl.

The Texans should not hang their heads. They lost five games, all to playoff teams, and have become a franchise with high expectations through back-to-back years of winning at least one playoff game. They have come a long way from a team that had difficulty putting together winning seasons.

But no one at Reliant Stadium is happy about losing earlier than hoped or expected. There’s plenty of room for improvement. The 2013 season starts now.

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