One of the things we always like doing leading up to a game against an opposing team is to check in with a writer, blogger or great fan of the upcoming team. This week, we had the joy of reconnecting with an old friend, Stephanie Stradley (AKA Texans Chick) of the Houston Chronicle. Stephanie always provides fantastic insight for us about the Texans and so we’re happy to share her thoughts on the Texans and this week’s Monday Night game. You can follow Stephanie on Twitter at @Steph_Stradley.
1) The Texans have been on the rise for a few years now, what’s been their recipe to success?
Owner patience. The Texans have slowly been building their coaching staff from top to bottom, acquiring assistant coaches when they become available out of old contracts. From top to bottom, the coaches on both sides of the ball have defined football philosophies, know what kind of players they want that suit what they do, and know how to teach them.
When Gary Kubiak came on board, they fixed the passing game first. Then his first choice as offensive coordinator, Rick Dennison came on board and fixed the running game. And after years of inexperienced defensive coordinators, they got Wade Phillips last year who assembled an assistants staff that was much better. In 2011, the Texans finally got a defense that was worthy of their offense, and could properly coach and use so many of the high picks they were acquiring over the years trying to fix the defense through just drafting.
In a salary cap league, the best thing an owner can do is to make a team a supportive destination for quality coaches. I’ve been told repeatedly that owner Bob McNair does a good job providing the football side of the organization what they need without meddling. He certainly asks hard questions and knows what is going on, but he doesn’t let the business side drive football decisions. You can’t ask for much more from an owner.
2) The Texans seem to be playing well in all phases of the game, but is there one thing they do better than most teams in the league? To read more of this story, click here
Nike whet appetites on Tuesday, serving up a glimpse at their latest in NFL uniforms, sideline gear, and casual lifestyle apparel at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. But the limited items only triggered the NFL fan’s insatiable hunger for more — especially when considering the vast reach of NFL-branded goods and Nike’s sterling reputation in sports apparel and footwear.
Consider the sneakers. With Nike iD, fans will be able to call an audible on a pair of Dunk Highs, and style the classic silhouette with their preferred combination of the Jets’ glorious green. That’s a significant step up from Reebok’s botched snap in 2009. (Play with the options and build your Dunks on Nike iD’s Facebook page now.)
In previous years, customization was restricted to jerseys, t-shirts, and sweatshirts. But the potential with items on Nike iD will really allow you to stake a more extensive, personal claim as a fan.
Recently, Joe Namath spoke with Vincent Malozzi of the New York Times’ Fifth Down blog. He delivered some realistic pessimism that I hope is dead wrong:
Q. The Jets have appeared in the last two A.F.C. championship games but were eliminated each time. Are they talented enough to get to the Super Bowl this season?
A. I have my doubts, and I don’t want to get on the wrong side of people because I’m a real Jets fan. But I’ll tell you what; to get there three years in a row against all that competition, with Lady Luck and injuries involved, uh, the odds aren’t as good as you’d like them to be. I looked at their schedule from Day 1 with the Dallas Cowboys coming to town, and whoa, man, do they have some monsters.
All the more reason to rise to the occasion.
In this week’s “Four Quarters” (video link here), Mike Westhoff described the design of the game-changing punt block by Joe McKnight, and how even he was surprised by the outcome:
“I thought strategically we would have three guys on two. If we did this exactly correct, we may get that,” Westhoff said. “I didn’t think it would necessarily be Joe. I thought the fullback would step in and take Joe, and we’d get 2-on-1 on the corner. As it turned out, they actually moved out a little bit better than I thought, although the fullback probably went further out than what they’d like him to, and Joe came clean and we blocked it.”
Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com and Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com pose a few very important questions to the Ryans here.
4 years ago, Braylon Edwards promised 100 Cleveland 8th graders if they kept their grades up and did at least 15 hours of community service a year, he’d pay for their college tuition. Now, those 8th graders are graduating high school, and Braylon’s keeping his promise, sending a newly-minted Jets fan into Patriots territory along the way.
(Cap tip to Erik Manassy at Jets Twit for this story.)
Even though he hasn’t read Rex’s book, James Ihedigbo shares the same tone as his coach, saying this in an interview with Metro about the Jets and its chances in the future:
I really do love this team, I love the Jets and being with the Jets organization. [General manager] Mike Tannenbaum gave me a shot to join this team as a walk-on when I wasn’t drafted, Woody Johnson is a great owner and treats us all well. I love this team, we’re put in situations to succeed and do well and we can win Super Bowls here, I believe that.
About his looming free agency, Ihedigbo chose his words a little more carefully, saying that he needs “to cautiously weigh and see what’s best for me…but I’d still love to be a Jet.”
Still, it’s great to see Rex’s players sharing his brash attitude and saying things like: “We don’t expect to lose, to be the team that people expect to be that same Jets team from years past.”
Despite the workouts he’s been hosting, it looks like the lockout is leaving Mark Sanchez with a lot of free time on his hands, since he’s taken in a few Broadway shows and chatting about them with the New York Times.
As part of its Tony Award coverage, the Times has been interviewing New York celebrities, asking them about the theater and their picks to win it all. Not quite as brash as his coach, Sanchez shied away from making any real predictions, but he seemed to think “Catch Me if You Can” would get the top prize this year, saying that “It had a happy ending, and everybody was smiling when you walked out…” Kind of like what happened when I watched the Jets beat the Patriots this past January at my local bar.
When asked about football, Sanchez showed a bit of his intelligence about the unpredictable nature of the game and the amount of planning that goes into preparing for the unplanned:
Being onstage takes so much preparation. That’s very similar to football, the way you study and critique yourself, and how you think about an opponent and what they’re trying to do. Lots of times things don’t go the way they’re supposed to. If something happens on the field that wasn’t supposed to, you have to switch plays.
It’s nice to see that even during the offseason while he’s going to plays, Sanchez has studying on his mind (or knows to tell reporters he does).