September 5, 2009
Fake Season Czar Regains Swagger
by Keith Weiland
There had been something of an elephant in the room leading up to Friday night's fake season finale. Head coach Gary Kubiak took his Texans into Tampa needing a pretend victory in order to protect his streak of non-losing fake campaigns, and by golly, anyone who doubted him should have been ashamed. Kubiak's men plundered an otherwise disinterested Bucs squad before narrowly escaping 27-20 thanks to some
ineffective redzone gameplay by the Pewter goal line heroics by the men in Liberty White.
Kubiak could not have regained his swagger without asking his pocket gladiator, Rex Grossman, to rub some off SexCannon mojo on him. Fighting for what might have been the 53rd and final spot on the roster, Grossman heaved the football deep early and often against the Bucs with a surprisingly healthy dose of success.
Were you not entertained? Grossman completed nine of his sixteen attempts, most covering nearly half the football field, for 197 yards and two touchdown passes.
Grossman's first scoring play found receiver Jacoby Jones adjusting under a deep pass, an 87-yard slingshot. If there was ever a match made in heaven, it would look something like this Grossman-to-Jones chuck n' clutch.
As pretty as that play might have been, it was not Grossman's best of the game. No, his best pass was the next touchdown toss, the...
With a 7-3 lead on his next possession, Grossman took advantage of a couple defensive penalties to sustain a drive down to the Bucs 11-yard line. On third down with seven yards needed for the first, anyone paying attention had to believe that Grossman would go balls out for the endzone.
And he delivered a beautiful ball to sure-handed tight end James Casey for the touchdown, building a commanding 14-3 lead with about six minutes to play in the half.
Okay, the Real Key Play
What? You say you want the game's true key play? As mesmorizing as Grossman was against the Bucs, truly the game boiled down to a fourth-and-goal defensive stand for the Texans from the 3-yard line, culminating in a failed quarterback draw by Josh Johnson stuffed by defensive lineman Frank Okam. It was the sort of offensive playcalling one might expect from a team that just fired their coordinator a few days ago.
So we saw the good Rex Grossman on Friday, the one that will make fans think he is ready to step in as Schaub's primary backup if (and sadly when) the starter suffers an injury. The truth is that Grossman was lighting up a Bucs defense made up of several spare parts. The oohs and ahhs of the deep ball will just as quickly turn to boos and p'shaws against a competent pass rush and secondary. But tonight, the night is yours, Cannon.
There were plenty of other players earning attaboys in this one. Safety John Busing surely earned a spot on the final 53 with his four tackles and an interception. Defensive end Connor Barwin seems to have taken up permanent lodging in this space, again looking like the most interested player on the defense.
So Okam may have taken down Johnson on the game's last meaningful play, but he had also been disruptive earlier in the game as well. And Jones did show some impressive jets and a nice adjustment on the deep ball, posting a 3-catch, 148-yard performance that ought to kill any further conversation about him not making the team.
Turnovers: Bucs 4, Texans 3
Grossman's moxie in the pocket seemed to invigorate a Texans defense watching from the sideline. Getting four turnovers on the road, albeit against a less-than-impressive Bucs offense, is encouraging. Under Kubiak, the Texans have been a poor road team, and that's putting it mildly. They've also been a squad known to let another team's momentum get the better of them.
But Grossman's determination to throw the ball wherever he damn well pleased seemed to somehow relax the defense. And that's something Kubiak and his coaching staff should translate into the regular season. Keep 'em loose and let the good times roll.
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