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?”
AVOID: Ryan Moats, RB, Texans Houston running back Steve Slaton fumbled his first carry of the day on Sunday against the Bills. That turnover put Slaton, a fumble machine this year, on the bench and Moats in the backfield. Moats responded with 151 total yards and three touchdowns. So jump on Moats, right? Wrong. Moats is a career journeyman for a reason. He's not about to become a superstar. And Slaton is expected to get the majority of the carries again soon, maybe even this week. If that happens, Moats won't be on the field. Also, if Slaton sees more action, you should really grab Houston's fullback or even Matt Schaub if he's available. They have the best chance of picking up Slaton's fumbles and advancing them for positive gains.
AVOID: Matt Schaub, QB, Texans Matt Schaub is surrounded by a ton of weapons in Houston. Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, Kevin Walter, Owen Daniels. Here's the only problem: Matt Schaub is not very good. Picture Johnson, Slaton, Walter, and Daniels as actual weapons. Awesome weapons. In fact, consider them the Batman suit. Pretty cool, right? Unlimited potential. But all those weapons are useless if you don't have someone who can control them. Now imagine Stephen Hawking as being inside the Batman suit. Useless. Matt Schaub is Stephen Hawking. He'll be able to spin around. He'll probably get off a few shots. He might even get lucky to hit some people with them. But it won't be nearly as good as you'd hope.
DRAFT: Kevin Walter, WR, Texans While Andre Johnson will draw double teams on the opposite side, and with Steve Slaton drawing attention out of the backfield, Walter will get plenty of opportunities to put up big numbers in Houston's high-octane attack and should easily improve on last season's totals of 60 receptions, 899 yards and and 8 TDs. We're talking numbers akin to the best years of I don't know Ed McCaffrey? No. How about Ricky Proehl? No, still not a good comparison. Brandon Stokley maybe? No. Not even close. You know, Walter may force me to break the cardinal rule of sportswriting this year and compare a white receiver to a black guy. Whoa.
Our reporter spent the day at Houston Texans training camp in Houston. Here are his notes.
> Some 500 fans waited outside the Texans facility yesterday after practice to get player autographs and ask the players if they had any inside hookups for Cowboys tickets.
> Matt Schaub has the starting quarterback job wrapped up, while Dan Orlovsky and Rex Grossman are battling for the third-string job. The backup job has been given to paperwork requesting a forfeit, which will be filed with the league office should Schaub get injured this season and be unable to play.
> Head coach Gary Kubiak is stressing defense in camp and has therefore switched to a hairspray that promises to keep it's hold in rain, wind and extreme humidity.
> Rick Perry, the Republican governor of Texas, has suggested the state could secede. Roger Goodell's wife, Jane Skinner, is an anchor on the Republican cheerleading Fox News. Is this all a plot for Goodell to expand the NFL into a new country?
> Sources say Reggie Bush broke up with Kim Kardashian because Texans defensive end Mario Williams has been doing her this whole time, only much, much better.
> Did you ever notice that the star eye on the Texans logo just makes it look like the steer is dead? Just saying probably not the best image for a franchise that has never made the playoffs.