The draft is still over a month away but the Texans made some headlines by dealing Matt Schaub and signing Ryan Fitzpatrick. We still have plenty of time to kill, so here are 20 random (mostly Texans) thoughts:
1. I think Schaub will do well in Oakland. He has a few good years of football left in him and he’s clearly the best quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon. Just about everyone seems to be in agreement that a change of scenery will do Schaub good.
2. Schaub was also clearly the best quarterback on the Texans’ roster last season. Hopefully, the signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick will put to rest the delusions of the Case Keenum truthers. He’s a nice kid, a favorite among many Houstonians, but he didn’t do anything last season to suggest that he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He’s going to have to fight for a position on this year’s roster.
3. Fitzpatrick is a really nice signing for the Texans. He’s a Harvard-educated guy who won’t have any trouble picking up a new offense and then teaching it to whichever quarterback the Texans decide to draft. He’s also not very good, which – believe it or not – is a good thing. If he was really good, it might cause a problem. The Texans are going to draft a quarterback and that quarterback should have a chance to start in his rookie season, even if Fitzpatrick is better. No one will be clamoring for Fitzpatrick if a rookie gets off to a rough start.
4. There’s going to be a good quarterback in the 2014 draft and the Texans have to figure out who it is. That’s a daunting task that if done correctly can help the team get back to the playoffs quickly. But if it’s done wrong, it can hurt the franchise greatly. Among the top three quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater is probably the safest. Blake Bortles has the most potential. And Johnny Manziel is the wild card.
5. I’m writing this from seat 16C on a flight from Houston to Newark, N.J. and this business guy sitting diagonally from me had the audacity to complain about the wifi connection on the plane not working. Come on, buddy. You’re in a giant metal bird that soaring through the sky! And it’s taking you on a three-hour trip that would have taken a month and very likely would have killed you 150 years ago. Isn’t that enough?
6. I’m on a Southwest flight and there’s an empty middle seat next to me. There’s nothing better than that. I enjoy flying on Southwest, not because of extraordinary customer service (although I haven’t ever had a problem. I like flying Southwest because not having assigned seats adds some intrigue to flying. I try to check in as close to 24 hours in advance to get the best number and from there it’s up to you to grab that aisle or window seat. Here’s my move. I head to the middle back of the plane and sit in the aisle seat. Then I do one of two things: 1. I close my eyes, pretend to sleep. I figure other travelers will be less likely to sit next to me that way. Or, 2. I try to look angry and miserable to people I don’t want to sit next to. If there’s going to be an empty seat on the flight, why not have it next to me?
7. After the top three quarterbacks, my favorite guy is Zach Mettenberger. I understand the hesitancy of some to trust an LSU quarterback but seeing what he was able to do in his one season under Cam Cameron was impressive. He’s expected to throw at LSU pro day, which will be important as he’s coming off an ACL surgery. He’s a first-round talent that will be taken in the second round because of that injury.
8. I’ve thought for a while that the Texans will use their first pick on a quarterback, so it’s time to start thinking about what they’ll use that second pick on. Remember, since they have the top pick in the second round, the team will be able to listen to offers to trade the pick overnight. A team could be in love with someone at the top of the second round and be willing to trade up. Rick Smith will certainly be listening to offers.
9. But if the Texans do use that 33rd pick, I have a few ideas. First, Texans fans should hope they don’t hear the names Dee Ford or Kony Ealy on the first day. If either of those two guys make it out of the first round, they’d be good fits with the Texans. Another guy I really like is Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier. The problem with Shazier is that he’s a little undersized to be an outside ‘backer in a 3-4. But if he bulks up he could play there. He could also be a nice fit inside next to Brian Cushing.
10. The Texans got three compensatory draft picks this week, bringing their total to 11. That’s huge for a team with many holes to fill. They can get a really nice player with the compensatory pick after the fourth round. Last year, they had two compensatory picks. They used the third-rounder on Sam Montgomery and the sixth-rounder on Ryan Griffin. Well, one outta two ain’t bad.
11. The NFL banning dunking over the goalposts is so stupid. I really don’t know why they seem to hate fun so much.
12. Also, I think taunting should be allowed. I know that’s not a popular opinion. What kind of example would that set for the children? Well, how about this: you don’t want the other team to taunt and celebrate? Stop them from scoring.
13. I think the Rockets have a legitimate shot to make a deep run into the playoffs. I knew James Harden was good when they traded for him before last season but the stretch he’s been on recently has completely blown me away. He’s a superstar and one of the best scorers in the NBA. The key for the Rockets (aside from staying healthy) might be Chandler Parsons. Parsons hasn’t played well in the second half of the season but if he can play the way he’s capable of playing, he can be an x-factor. I know he’s had trouble with back spasms in the past. I wonder if that’s been bothering him recently.
14. I’M IN A GIANT METAL BIRD IN THE SKY! It always amazes me.
15. Here are the Texans’ top five needs:
1. Quarterback : Obviously, quarterback is first. Without one, nothing else matters.
2. Nose tackle: Then, they don’t have a starter at nose tackle, they have a fringe guy in Jerrell Powe.
3. Right tackle: If Derek Newton starts again at right tackle, I’d be shocked.
4. Outside linebacker: They simply didn’t get enough out of Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed last year. And Reed is playing out of position; he should be inside.
5. Backup running back: Arian Foster is coming off back surgery. He appears to be healthy but no one knows how he’ll hold up. Right now, Dennis Johnson would be the backup.
I know I could have said defensive end. They do need help there. But I think (and I’m in the minority) they could get by with Jared Crick starting if they needed to.
16. Anyone else really hoping the Raiders sign Richie Incognito so he and Antonio Smith can be on the same team? If nothing else, Oakland should prank Smith and tell him they signed Incognito. And they should video tape it. And they should send that video tape to me.
17. Smith is genuinely funny. When I started covering the Texans in 2012, I thought all the Ninja and Tonestradamus stuff was a giant act. And, I guess it is. But that’s just his personality. When there wasn’t much going on in the locker room, we’d just find Antonio and he’d entertain us. The funniest thing I think I saw him do was interview himself. Antonio was asking questions to Tonestradamus and Tonestradamus was answering them. Not sure where the Ninja was for this.
18. Good news, guys! The wifi is up again. Crisis averted for my fellow traveler, who simply could not have lasted a 3 ½ hour flight without working (he’s on Facebook).
19. It’ll take a while because it’s hard for offensive linemen to get noticed by fans but Brandon Brooks will make a couple Pro Bowls in his career. He’s one of the most underrated players on the team and has a chance to be one of the best guards in football. All the love on the offensive line goes to tackles and centers but Houston found a really good player in Brooks.
20. Aside from having 11 picks in the upcoming draft, the Texans have four draft picks from last season coming off IR: Brennan Williams, Trevardo Williams, David Quessenberry and Alan Bonner. The new coaching staff doesn’t know much of anything about those guys, so their OTAs and training camps will be extremely important. Of the four, Quessenberry showed the most promise before getting hurt just before the season started.