Friday, March 23, 2007

David Carr's reign of terror is finally over.

Finally tired of bounced passes to running backs, defensive lineman's hands, or slot receivers, the Texans did what they should've done last offseason: rid the team of David Carr. Carr had become something less than the sum of his parts; he was seen as the total package coming into the league. He threw side-arm, sure, but he was athletic, accurate, and had the arm to throw the deep ball. I'm not one for sports psychology, and I won't play one here, but somewhere along the way, these tools did not translate. Gary Kubiak lost all confidence in Carr to throw the deep ball, and he was benched at points during last season. Oh sure, he had the best completion percentage in the NFL last year, but you or I could complete 70% of our passes if they were all screens and slants.

Now, correct conventional wisdom, established back in 2002, became that David Carr was playing on a bad team with a bad offensive line, and you can't throw the ball downfield if you never get time to. However, somewhere along the way, the Texans line moved from "historically awful" to just "bad". Last year, they were 27th in adjusted sack rate (as compiled by Football Outsiders), which is still bad, but not the heights of historical ineptitude that came from Seth Wand, Chester Pitts, and Tony Bos...wait he never played. They had finished dead last twice, and 30th another time. I posit that Carr bought into this and simply started trying to do too much, too fast. Not only did he become turnover prone and unable to make the long throw, but he also started to scramble at the slightest hint that a block wouldn't hold.

I also think the CW that Carr, freed from the oppressive environments of his youth, will suddenly blossom into a capable quarterback is dead wrong. Carr never got over the issues of his rookie season, and putting him in Minnesota or Miami isn't an automatic cure for five years of taking punishment (some self-inflicted) everytime he dropped back for a throw. He even lost the confidence of his teammates, leading Dunta Robinson to say: "We haven't won. I'm not saying it's David's fault, and I'm not saying he can't be a great quarterback with another team. But he's been here for five years, and the best we've been able to do is 7-9. I just think it's time for us to make some moves that'll help the Texans become a winning team."

Either way, two of the "new triplets" that were bandied about in 2004, when the Texans went 7-9, are soon on their way out the door; Domanick Williams and David Carr will not be on the team next season. What does this leave the Texans with? Andre Johnson, DeMeco Ryans, Mario Williams, and 500,000 original jokes about Vince Young, Reggie Bush, and the offensive line.

Did trading for Matt Schaub make sense? Absolutely. Was it worth giving up two second rounders? Probably not. The fact of the matter is though, coaches and GM's don't get very long to establish themselves in this business. With Schaub's trade value and money, the Texans are essentially putting themselves into a gambit that Schaub has to be a top 10 QB to equal his value. While thats possible, it's not exceedingly likely behind a line that still needs help stopping the pass. However, I happen to think he's a much better gamble than either JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, or any of the lower round picks. I don't know that he's two 2nd rounders better, but he's got the best chance of any of the QB's on the FA/trade markets or draft to become a reliable quarterback.

Another thing to consider is that the Kubiak regime actually managed to find players in the draft last year (okay, Charley Casserley was still "acting GM" but at that point his opinions were about as relevant as the first third-rounder he ever picked for the Texans), nabbing Williams, Ryans, Owen Daniels, Winston, Charles Spencer, Vonta Leach, and Anthony Maddox, who all played roles on the team last year. Wheras Casserley's best draft move was having the fortune to have Ricky Williams fall to him and ransom the pick for Mike Ditka's entire drafts for two years, with optional rights to his pool on alternate weekends. Kubiak and Smith have the credibility with me as a fan to not question this move. Yet.

This is essentially the new deal for the Texans, Kubiak, and Smith; If Schaub succeeds, it means the end of being a national punchline. If he fails, they'll be the Houston Not Reggie Bush's for another five years. Either way, it's brought back some sense of excitement to the ground; if you're going to lose, you might as well find a new way to lose.

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