Day: August 21, 2010

Gridiron Blitz: Houston Texans Season Preview

The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the Houston Texans

Music to listen to: Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gansta by The Geto Boys

The city of Houston has made major contributions to music over the years but I’m going to show love to the original rap group from there that I and many others around the world did, The Geto Boys.

Current State: Prior to last year, you could pencil in Houston for a record of 7-9 or 8-8 and you would have probably been right. However, the Texans surprised us in 2009 and finished 9-7. Still missed the playoffs but at least they finished with a winning record for the first time in franchise history.

The team has potential Pro Bowlers on the roster and now is the time to finally make the playoffs.

Biggest Change: There were no major changes but the Texans did decide to give a well-deserved extension to All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson and kept head coach Gary Kubiak which will be discussed later on in this post.

Uniform Grade: The Texans don‘t take too many chances with the unis, keeping with the main colors of red, white and blue. However, I did see them wear an all-red look one time.

Yeah, don‘t do that again. Grade: B

Best Player: Tough call between Johnson and defensive end Mario Williams but I’ll go with the former Miami Hurricane.

Johnson’s ability to thrive in an offense where he consistently faces double teams because of a shaky quarterback and questionable running game makes the case for him being the best receiver in football almost a moot point.

The defense has some studs as well in Williams and linebackers DeMeco Ryans and second-year player Brian Cushing, who will have to deal with the wrap of being a steroid user. If he can get over that, Houston may have a top-five defense in the entire league.

Most Important Player: This one is a little easier to answer. Houston has had an above-average offense the past few years that has gained a significant amount of yards but hasn’t scored as many points as it should. That lies on the quarterback Matt Schaub.

He has to find a way to increase the team’s point total and stay healthy because backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky isn’t the answer.

Best Case: Defense continues to play well. Schaub stays healthy for an entire season. Houston finally makes the playoffs.

Worst Case: Everything happens in the best case accept for making the playoffs.

Coaching: The re-signing of an extension of head coach Gary Kubiak was met with some understandable criticism. With the talent of this team, the Texans should have made the playoffs under his watch by now.

However, the question I always ask in these situations is who would you replace him with? I think he’s done a good job but I’m not a frustrated fan of the Texans like some others. If my favorite team, the New York Giants, were in the same situation, I may want to see my coach fired too.

First memory of team: The only thing I have for you is watching its first-ever franchise game, hosting the Dallas Cowboys, and actually winning. Besides the crappy quarterback play of Quincy Carter for the Cowboys, I remember thinking that it was nice that Houston had a football team and the stadium looked great.

Schedule: They have to deal with Tennessee, Jacksonville and Indianapolis in the division.

As far as home games, they get Dallas, Kansas City, San Diego and Baltimore. That’s not bad. The road games will be at Washington, Oakland, New York Jets, Philadelphia and Denver

City Nicknames: I like H-Town and Space City.

Fantasy Focus: You can do work with Schaub, Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels if he can recover from knee surgery. I would be very, very cautious about taking Steve Slaton at running back because he fumbles the ball often and will receive direct competition in his own position from rookies Ben Tate and Arian Foster.

Overall Outlook: They have many swing games on the schedule. If they win all of them, they can win 12 games this season because the only teams that they face that will be superior to them on paper are Indy, Baltimore and maybe Dallas an San Diego. That’s only three to four games. However, the Texans do find a way to blow the gimmie games over the years as well. I think that they finish with a winning record but miss the playoffs once again.

Final Record: 9-7

Gridiron Blitz 2010 Season Previews:

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Miami Dolphins

AFC North:

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Baltimore Ravens

Pittsbirgh Steelers

AFC South:

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Advertisements

Gridiron Blitz: Jacksonville Jaguars

The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the Jacksonville Jaguars

Music to listen to: Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd

I’ve been looking forward to doing this post since I started this series just to post that song. I dare you to listen to that song when you’re going through a rough period and not at least reflect on some things and not at least potentially tear up a little bit.

Current State: Besides Maurice Jones-Drew, give me the name of one other Jaguar? I’ll even spot you David Gerrard.

The biggest problem with this entire preview coming up is that despite how much I write about the quarterback position or how they will rebuild the secondary, the main thought that you have about these guys is how long will it be before the Jaguars move to Los Angeles.

When you only have around 38,000 season tickets sold when you have to have at least 50,000 to avoid having your own home games blacked out, that’s a problem.

Biggest Change: General manager Gene Smith has tried to revamp the defense with the addition of former Green Bay Packer, defensive end Aaron Kampman and first-round draft pick, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. Along those lines, the team hopes that a position change for defensive lineman Derrick Harvey from the right to the left side.

Uniform Grade: The unis are decent. I do enjoy the teal color jerseys. They have strated to rely a little much on the black but its ok. Grade: B-

Best Player: If MJD was in a bigger market and a better team, he would be regarded as one of the top running backs in the league by most fans. Fantasy football players know all about him but average viewers of the NFL may not realize that not only is he an excellent receiver but catches the ball better than most receivers in the league as well.

Most Important Player: Usually, this player is most likely a quarterback. However, Gerrard provides me with no inspiration and may not even be starting by the end of the season.

So this will go to Eugene Monroe, the left tackle, because if this team plans to do anything this season, the offensive line has to at least be competent.

Best Case: They sell some tickets and don’t finish with the worst record in the league.

Worst Case: Last season.

Coaching: Jack Del Rio has led the Jags to two playoff appearances in his seven years but has an overall record of 57-55 and that pretty much explains his tenure and the entire state of the franchise during his time.

First Memory of team: I remember Jacksonville being a surprise good team in the mid 1990’s. In fact, I remember watching them beat Denver one year in the playoffs and almost defeat New England in the AFC title game that same season.

That’s all I got.

Schedule: They have to deal with Tennessee, Houston and Indianapolis in the division.

As far as home games, they get Denver, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Oakland and Washington. That’s not bad. The road games will be San Diego, Buffalo, Kansas City, Dallas and the New York Giants.

City Nicknames: I found only three. The River City, Jax and J-Ville. All of them are terrible.

Fantasy Focus: MJD is a legit potential top-back in the entire league. Other than that, avoid this squad completely.

Overall Outlook: This is going to be a rough time for this team. Hopefully some of the young Jaguars can mature and give them a chance to build towards something in the future.

Final Record: 3-13

Gridiron Blitz 2010 Season Previews:

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Miami Dolphins

AFC North:

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Baltimore Ravens

Pittsbirgh Steelers

AFC South:

Indianapolis Colts

Triple Option Attack: #16 LSU

Next up on the Triple Option Attack is #16 LSU

Music to listen to: Shoot, Pass Slam by Shaq

I could have chosen plenty of artists but Shaq gets some love for his decent rapping skills.

The Story: If you suggested that Les Miles and the entire LSU football program would be in panic mode coming into the 2010 season after capturing the 2007 national championship, its second in the decade, people would have accused you of hyperbole and lacking a proper perspective of what constitutes a successful program. The Tigers have won 17 games the last two seasons but are only .500 in SEC contests over this period.

When you look at the overall landscape of the SEC, fans and analysts alike are right to question where LSU lies in the conference. Alabama and Florida have surpassed them. Georgia and Auburn are making improvements in their own way. Arkansas is even making noise of having a better squad this season.

However, with elite talent coming into the program every year and a national profile, fans are wondering why the Tigers have underachieved the last two years. You don’t have to look further than head coach Les Miles, who’s personality and coaching style may make him endearing to his players but also leaves him liable to making crucial mistakes during games like at Ole Miss last year.

Last Season: Finished with a record of 9-4 last season, including a 5-3 mark in the SEC. The season ended with a loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl. It was marked by many interesting moments.

-The Tigers almost lost at Washington, an inferior team, in the season opener.

-Barely won at Mississippi State, needing a goal-line stand to preserve the victory.

-Almost beat Florida at home.

-Lost to Ole Miss with some of the worst clock management in school history.

-Needed overtime and some luck to beat Arkansas

Offense: This entire post can be about Jordan Jefferson, the inconsistent junior quarterback. He has the physical tools to be quarterback that can lead his team to a conference title but makes too many mental mistakes and throwing errors. Some may point to last season as a solid one because he only had seven turnovers, which served arguably the main plan for a quarterback, not turning the ball over. However, he still needs to improve for the Tigers to reach its goal.

While Jefferson’s campaign last year could be looked at in a positive or negative way, the offensive line was one of the worst in the SEC and maybe the entire nation. Because of its play, the entire offense struggled, especially running the football. The line may get two new starters and a promise from the offensive coordinating staff to run the ball more may help.

One thing that LSU doesn’t have to worry about is playmakers on the offense. Senior Terrence Toliver will lead a talented receiving corps which also includes Russell Shepard and Rueban Randle that will help the Tigers score points.

Defense: While the offense had struggles last season, the defense continued its stellar play behind preseason All-SEC selection, senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard.

The only issue may be returning three starters in the secondary. However, another all-conference player, cornerback Patrick Peterson, has returned to anchor that unit.

The Schedule

9-4-10 North Carolina @Atlanta, GA
9-11-10 at Vanderbilt
9-18-10 MISSISSIPPI STATE
9-25-10 WEST VIRGINIA
10-2-10 TENNESSEE
10-9-10 at Florida
10-16-10 MCNEESE STATE
10-23-10 at Auburn
11-6-10 ALABAMA
11-13-10 LOUISIANA-MONROE
11-20-10 MISSISSIPPI
11-27-10 at Arkansas

If the Tigers can get past North Carolina in Atlanta, and right now I’m penciling that in as a win, than they should be 5-0 heading into Florida. However, the contest against the Gators starts the toughest stretch of the season as LSU will travel to Florida, to Auburn, host McNeese State and host Alabama over a four week period. If the Tigers can somehow come out of that 2-2, than a ten win season isn’t out of question.

Most Famous Sports Alum: Another stellar list to choose from but ultimately, you have to go with Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq has become one of the biggest, figurate and literally, crossover figure ever in professional sports. Even your grandma knows who Shaq is or at least how he looks. BTW, seeing a skinny Shaq in the video above is awesome!

Most “Badass“ Alum: There have been plenty of beautiful women I would have chosen for the “crush,” but since I picked Jimmy Carter in my last Triple Option Attack for Georgia Tech, I’m going to go with another political “badass” for LSU. Nothing warms the heart more than flipping around the news shows on TV on Sunday mornings and seeing James Carville lay the smack down on the pundits.

Prediction: 9-3

While the Tigers are talented, I still don’t trust the offensive line, Jefferson and especially Les Miles. They can beat Florida on the road but then blow a contest at home to Mississippi State, I don’t know how to project them. However, I’ll give them a few wins and maybe Les Miles survives the season as well.

Sports Inquirer Top-25 Preseason College Football Poll:

#25 West Virginia

#24 South Carolina

#23 Auburn

#22 Oregon State

#21 Arkansas

#20 Florida State

#19 Georgia

#18 North Carolina

#17 Georgia Tech