A key running play in the Houston Texans’ loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday died in the team’s running back committee, sources say. The long-awaited debut of “20 Stretch Right,” a proposed run by tailback Steve Slaton, never came to fruition due to fierce subcommittee debate.
Despite eleventh-hour attempts at a compromise to get a play in front of quarterback Matt Schaub before the play clock wound down, the team’s Committee on Running Backs could not reach an agreement. Given this inter-committee bickering, Schaub had no choice but to audible the once-promising running play into a pass, which fell incomplete when the QB overthrew wideout Andre Johnson.
The original play, which called for second-year running back Steve Slaton to run a stretch, forced the team’s running back committee to divide along partisan lines. Slaton and veteran tailback Chris Brown supported the call, while the rest of the RB committee called it “a wasteful use of our constituents’ hard-earned plays.”
The strongest opposition to the play came from recently promoted starter Ryan Moats, who explained, “I felt that I owed it to myself, my constituency, and my fantasy owners not to simply allow that play to transpire in the hands of a fumble-prone back. I got this job by promising a sure-handed change from the fumbling status quo around here, so I couldn’t let things go back to business as usual.”
Cynics noted, though, that for all his high-minded rhetoric, Moats crushed a later Texans drive with a goal-line fumble in his first game as a starter.
“Typical sleazy running back. Lures you in with promises of reform, but he’s just as bad as the rest of them,” disenchanted defensive tackle Amobi Okoye lamented.
Despite these political struggles, for a brief moment it looked as if fullback Vonta Leach might save the play when he proposed a flea-flicker amendment, but the rest of the committee shouted down the suggestion as mere “pork to endear himself to Schaub.”
Although Leach pushed hard for the amendment, no committee member would second Leach’s motion to vote, so the flea-flicker proposal fizzled. Leach accepted that any further pressing for a vote on his part might lead to a point of order being raised.
“Look, I want to get a first down as much as anyone on this team,” Leach said, “But if our committee has to break with proper parliamentary procedure to get one, I’m not sure it’s worth it.”
Other proposed amendments might have helped the play get out of committee but surely would have prompted QB Schaub to exercise his veto power.
“Frankly, I love Slaton’s ability as a football player, but there’s no way I would have approved a halfback pass on third-and-two from our own 30-yard line,” Schaub later confirmed.
Pundits suggested that a few members of the committee were actually personally in favor of running 20 Stretch Right but had been corrupted by lobbying from the team’s receiving corps.
“I don’t want to make any accusations,” an oboe-playing guard who asked to remain anonymous explained. “I’m pretty sure I saw (wide receiver Kevin) Walter put a sack of money in Moats’ locker on Sunday morning, though.”
When asked to comment on the Texans’ difficulty in choosing a running play, opposing quarterback Peyton Manning confidently responded, “See? Our efficient QB-led dictatorship doesn’t look so bad now, does it?”