What is Deep Steel Blues?

This past week in the city of Houston is the very definition of Deep Steel Blues. It’s why this blog was created. It is, simply put, the very essence of Houston sports fandom.

Deep Steel Blues is 55+ years of frustration finally coming to an end with a World Series victory in Game 7 and learning — less than 24 hours later — that the city’s franchise quarterback blew out his knee. During a non-contact drill. In practice.

Deep Steel Blues is losing your two best pass rushers (J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus) for the entire season on the same drive in Week 5.

Deep Steel Blues is a three year revolving door at quarterback that saw Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler, and Tom Savage under center. As starters.

Deep Steel Blues is starting a season 11-1 and deciding it would be a good idea to buy letterman jackets.

Deep Steel Blues is watching Matt Schaub throw a pick-six against Tennessee in Week 2. Then another one against Baltimore in Week 3. Then another one against Seattle in Week 4. And then a-FREAKING-nother one against San Francisco in Week 5.

Deep Steel Blues is taking a sort of twisted comfort in the fact that Schaub’s injury in Week 6 will end his pick-six-a-thon, only to have T.J. Yates enter the game and promptly throw a pick-six himself.

Deep Steel Blues is earning the number one overall pick in the NFL draft on three different occasions when the best quarterbacks available (arguably) are David Carr, Vince Young, and Blake Bortles.

Deep Steel Blues is enduring an offensive line that surrendered 76 sacks in one season.

Lifelong Houston fans know that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. It goes back further than that.

Much further.

Deep Steel Blues is Bud Adams.

Deep Steel Blues is Joe Montana. Kansas City Chiefs Joe Montana.

Deep Steel Blues is the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach any time you hear the name Frank Reich.

Deep Steel Blues is the Oilers’ defensive coordinator punching the offensive coordinator in the face. During a game.

Deep Steel Blues is the absence of an instant replay rule in Pittsburgh in 1979.

And it’s not just football.

Deep Steel Blues is having the Houston Rockets’ capturing the city’s first major championship in 1994 offset by the Astros being robbed of a potential World Series run due to a work stoppage and the first cancellation of the fall classic in 90 years.

Deep Steel Blues is having to listen to those outside of Houston refer to the Rockets’ back-to-back championships as “tarnished” because Michael Jordan decided he wanted to play baseball.

Deep Steel Blues is Texas native and Rice graduate Lance Berkman winning a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Deep Steel Blues is Earl Campbell in a New Orleans Saints uniform. Hakeem Olajuwon in a Toronto Raptors jersey.

Deep Steel Blues is 16 innings against the Mets in 1986; 10 innings against the Phillies in 1980.

Deep Steel Blues is J.R. Richard.

Deep Steel Blues is Jeff Alm.

But despite all of that, more than anything else, Deep Steel Blues is the inability of Houston fans to turn away from our hometown teams no matter how bad things get. No matter how many injuries, no matter how many close calls, no matter how many blown draft picks, no matter how much heartache: Deep Steel Blues is what being a Houston fan is all about.

It’s picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and saddling up for another ride with the hometown boys in the hopes that one day, our having endured those decades of Deep Steel Blues will be rewarded. Hell, we might even get to a point where it doesn’t resemble the “Blues” at all.

I wonder what we’ll do with ourselves then…..

Pro Football Focus Hates Deshaun Watson

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a particularly strong grasp of the allegedly-sophisticated statistical voodoo that the folks over at Pro Football Focus employ to come up with their quarterback rankings (mostly because I’m a cheap bastard and I don’t want to pay for their service). But when that system produces a list that ranks the NFL leader in touchdown passes and overall QBR at a mind-boggling 31st overall at the quarterback position, it’s time to head back to the drawing board.

Rather than analyzing Deshaun Watson’s “way-the-fuck-better-than-31st-overall” statistics, let’s have a look at PFF’s reasoning behind other quarterbacks’ higher ranking:

30. Mitch Trubisky

No, that’s not a joke. A guy who’s appeared in exactly two games, completed less than 50% of his passes, and has 15 fewer touchdowns than Deshaun Watson is somehow ranked higher. You’d better have a damn good explanation for this one, PFF.

“[The Bears] kept it simple for him with a number of bootlegs and screens, and while his 8-for-16 passing line isn’t impressive, six of the eight incompletions where [sic] throwaways as Trubisky did a fine job of taking care of the ball.”

Nope. That explanation blows. I call bullshit.

T-26. Trevor Siemian

Siemian is coming off of a loss at home to the previously-winless Giants where he threw as many touchdown passes to Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (1) as he did to his own teammates (1). So your rationale for ranking him ahead of Watson after his third consecutive game with at least three touchdown passes is…?

“On the day, Siemian was just 2-of-9 for 23 yards one interception and a 0.0 passer rating under pressure.”

As I expected. Bullshit.

Siemian, as you can see, was locked in a tie at the #26 spot. With whom, you might ask?

T-26. Joe Flacco

Now you guys are just trolling.

Joe Flacco. Joe Fucking Flacco. This guy has twice as many interceptions this season (8) as he does touchdown passes (4) and has the worst QB rating of any starter in the league not named Deshone Kizer. Oh, and that QB rating? It’s 35 points lower (66.1) than Watson’s (101.1).

There were no comments provided by PFF about Flacco’s ranking. I can only assume that’s because even they looked at this and said, “Shit. We’re gonna catch hell over this one.”

24. Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford in Weeks 4-6: Average QB rating of 82.2 with 5 TDs/3 INTs

Deshaun Watson in Weeks 4-6: Average QB rating of 116.1 with 12 TDs/2 INTs

Seriously, what are you guys looking at over there?!?!!!

“The ball was bouncing all over the place, with nine batted passes at the line of scrimmage including two that resulted in interceptions for touchdowns.”

To put it another way, Stafford would have needed all seven of the batted-down passes that weren’t intercepted to magically land in the hands of a teammate, then have that teammate somehow figure out a way to score, just to equal Watson’s TD pass output in the last three games.

Upon further review, Stafford’s ranking seven spots higher than Watson is — you guessed it — bullshit.

14. Ben Roethlisberger

I’m not even going to read the comments for this one, because there is absolutely no logical explanation for a guy who has more interceptions (8) than touchdown passes (7) this season — AND has a quarterback rating a full 23 points lower than Deshaun Watson — somehow being ranked 17 spots higher. Total bullshit.

I’m on the verge of throwing things, so I’m not going to dig any deeper into this list. To summarize: according to PFF’s quarterback rankings, six weeks into the football season, Deshaun Watson has been better than Jay Cutler, Deshone Kizer, and…no one else.

Bullshit.

Biggest Pooch-Screwer: Week 5 vs. Chiefs

If someone told you that Deshaun Watson was going to throw five touchdown passes while not turning the ball over, you’d probably feel fairly confident that it would result in a Texans’ victory over the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

You’d also identify yourself as someone who does not follow Houston sports.

Yes, the good guys managed to come up short on Sunday night despite an impressive (although maddeningly inconsistent) performance from their rookie quarterback. Unfortunately for Houston, Watson’s second consecutive five touchdown effort wasn’t even the story of the night, as both JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus were lost to season-ending injuries on the game’s first drive.

Watson did his part to try to bring the Texans back — throwing three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter alone — but it was too little, too late. His slow start, coupled with a terrible effort from the suddenly-short handed defense, allowed the Chiefs to jump out to a 16-0 lead that they would never relinquish. Houston would only close to within one score for a very brief moment in the fourth quarter, then again on the game’s final play: a two-point conversion from Watson following his fifth touchdown pass as time expired.

Watson’s five touchdowns and zero turnovers were a boon for fantasy football owners, but his 51.6% completion percentage — largely a product of a dreadful 2-7 start on Houston’s first three drives — will need to be improved upon.

Remember: there are no moral victories here at Deep Steel Blues, so the question must be asked: who screwed the pooch? For your consideration:

Mike Vrabel

As legendary head coach Jerry Glanville once said, “This is the NFL, which stands for Not For Long” if you’re a defensive coordinator whose unit can’t get a stop on 3rd down.

(It could be argued that “legendary” may be overstating Glanville’s effectiveness as a coach and that the “Not For Long” line was actually in reference to poor officiating, but let’s stay on topic here, people.)

Kansas City successfully converted eight of its first 11 third downs (9/16 overall) en route to a 23-7 halftime lead. Considering the Texans had been one of the better 3rd down defenses in the league prior to Sunday night’s contest, the argument could be made that the loss of Watt and Mercilus early in the game contributed to the uncharacteristic inefficiency.

Which brings us to our second nominee:

The Football Gods

Seriously, what have Houston football fans done to deserve this? Heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss (I could go on) for the Oilers in the playoffs followed by fifteen years of quarterback ineptitude. Now we finally have a competent signal caller in charge of an explosive offense…and you see fit to take away our two best pass rushers?

Whatever sacrifice is required at the altar of the football gods (I’m looking at you, Toro), it shall be carried out, and that right early. Because I can’t take much more of this.

 Jonathan Joseph

Joseph looked completely lost in coverage on a number of occasions, including a 38-yard completion to Tyreke Hill that allowed the Chiefs to convert on a 3rd & 16 from their own 40 yard line. That drive resulted in a field goal that pushed Kansas City’s lead to 26-13.

After Houston closed the gap to 26-20, Joseph was beaten for another big play: an 18-yard reception by Ross Travis, who made the play despite a holding call against Joseph. That drive concluded with a touchdown that saw the Chiefs extend the lead to 32-13.

That play may have been the dagger, if not for…

Special Teams

Remember the good old days when the Texans’ special teams was a team strength?

Me neither.

Houston currently ranks dead last in opponents’ punt return average and 27th in kickoff coverage. So it should have come as no surprise when Kansas City speedster Tyreke Hill scored on an 82-yard punt return in the 4th quarter that finally put the game out of reach.

Just how bad is Houston’s special teams unit? Consider this: the Texans have finished 24th or worse in either opponents’ punt return average or kickoff return average every season since 2012. The punt return coverage has been in the NFL’s bottom four on three occasions during that time (not including this year) and both units finished 25th or worse in 2013, 2014, and 2016.

sadFans

I hereby decree that Houston’s coverage teams shall be referred to on this blog as “the unit(s)” until they have demonstrated that the term “special” does, in fact, belong.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Leave it to the radio “Home of Your Houston Texans” to shift the narrative surrounding Deshaun Watson’s arrival from “Our front office finally got us a quarterback!” to “If our front office didn’t suck, we’d have had our quarterback a lot sooner!”

Host Matt Hammond — whose analysis on his Periscope show we rather enjoy — reported that, according to an anonymous source, head coach Bill O’Brien wanted to name Deshaun Watson as his starting quarterback after the first preseason game, “but was talked out of it by general manager Rick Smith.”

Let’s look past the obvious (potential) flaws with this report: the fact that the information came from an anonymous source; the fact that the source appears to contradict himself by later stating that the “decision to stick with Savage was collaborative”; and the fact that at least one other source is claiming that the information from Hammond’s source “has no merit at all.”

The real question here is: Who cares?

Let’s assume that Hammond’s source is correct; that Smith really was responsible for the decision to start Tom Savage instead of Watson. This would suggest that Rick Smith doesn’t really know when or if a quarterback is ready to start in the National Football League.

As if we weren’t already painfully aware of that fact.

brock

Breaking Down Bill O’Zimmerman’s Epic “Cayenne” Rant

In case you didn’t have enough to smile about after the Texans demolished the Tennessee Titans this past Sunday, allow us to offer the Twitter feed of Mr. “Bill O’Zimmermann” for your consideration.

This is a man who quotes the inimitable Tyrion Lannister in his bio, repeatedly expresses anger over Twitter’s new 280-character limit, and interrupts his in-game Tweets with a photo of his food under the hashtag #SexyBeans.

In other words, he’s everything we here at Deep Steel Blues look for in a Twitter follow.

Of course, we may never have discovered this hidden gem of an account if not for the epic Twitter rant that Mr. O’Zimmermann unleashed on Irish NFL Analyst Cian Fahey.

[Quick aside: if you’re wondering why we found it necessary to include Mr. Fahey’s Irish heritage in his title…just wait.]

You see, Mr. Fahey — owner of and writer for the website Pre-Snap Reads — is not particularly fond of Deshaun Watson’s football skills. He cherry picked a series of less-than-impressive plays from Watson’s 2016 starts against Auburn and Louisville before boldly predicting that Houston’s acquisition of Watson would “go like it has with all the other QBs this regime has acquired.”

It was only a matter of time before Texans’ fans snapped back, and Sunday’s 57-point offensive performance lit the fuse to the powder keg that was O’Zimmermann’s response to Fahey’s dismissal of Watson’s potential:

“Look, I don’t know how to say your name, but I’ma go with “cayenne” because your takes are hot as fuck.”

The Irish actually pronounce it “KEE-UHN”, but if you’re going to butcher a man’s name, providing a legitimate (and hilarious) reason for doing so — such as “your takes are hot as fuck” — earns you a free pass.

“’Bae-shaun’ Watson…”

No, that’s not a misprint. He actually called him “Bae-shaun” Watson.

Note to Mr. O’Zimmermann: trademark that shit right now, put it on a t-shirt, and get it up for sale as soon as humanly possible. You’ll thank us later.

“…can throw the damn ball. I mean, how are you gonna judge? They don’t throw shit over’ere in your country. Okay? Y’all kick balls around.”

We’ve affectionately dubbed this “Not-Entirely-Correct-But-Nonetheless-Hilarious Assertion #1”: Gaelic football and rugby are two of the most popular sports in Ireland, but since soccer remains the most popular, we’re issuing another free pass. It’s our blog. We can do that.

“The only thing y’all throw is the toothpaste away that we drop off in care packages every other year…”

As we have been unable to confirm delivery of any such care packages or verify the frequency with which said packages may or may not have been delivered, this qualifies as “Not-Entirely-Correct-But-Nonetheless-Hilarious Assertion #2.”

But considering the typical Irish grill looks strikingly similar to the picture below…free pass.

Teeth

“…since we beat y’all’s ass in World War II. You know?”

Yep. You guessed it: “Not-Entirely-Correct-But-Nonetheless-Hilarious Assertion #3.” But not nearly as absurd as superimposing Watson’s head onto a propaganda picture of ruthless World War II-era dictator Josef Stalin.

Free pass.

“So don’t come over here tellin’ me what ‘Bae-shaun’ Watson…”

I’ll take an XL please. Kids’ large for my son if you go with smaller sizes as well.

“…The Head Coach Whisperer…”

In the midst of an otherwise comedic take comes this nugget. Anyone else notice how Bill O’Brien is suddenly being praised for his play-calling abilities? Sure, O’Brien has never had a quarterback with Watson’s skill set at his disposal here in Houston. But remember, this is the coach who pretty much ran the same five plays for three years straight.

“…okay, he’s the head coach guru, bah gawd.”

bahgawd

“You don’t tell me he can’t throw a damn ball. He’s savin’ the whole damn CITY! ON HIS BACK!”

The way this is worded, I picture Deshaun Watson lying on his back while being fed grapes by Mia Khalifa, simply willing the city of Houston to succeed culturally, economically, and athletically.

Just me? Fine….

“Maybe he’ll give you his next paycheck and you can go somewhere and find somethin’ to stick up your ass.”

Okay, we’ve been fairly liberal with the free passes, but this doesn’t even really make sense.

“Tha’on’t even really make sense.”

Shit. Sorry for interrupting.

“But he’d do it, because he’s a nice guy.”

And you, good sir, are a Twitter legend.

On Deshaun Watson: Beware of the Small Sample Size

Seven touchdown passes in his first three starts? A 300-yard passing game, which hardly ever happens in Houston?  A razor thin road loss to one of the league’s best teams? Why the hell wouldn’t Texans fans be excited about the future of the quarterback position?

Because that guy went 0-8 as a starter that season and was traded a year later for a 7th round draft pick that the Texans didn’t even keep.

Those were the 2013 stats for the first three starts of Case Keenum’s NFL career, and they should serve as a cautionary tale to Houston fans who have already tapped Deshaun Watson as a surefire Hall of Fame candidate and the answer to the Texans’ seemingly never-ending quarterback dilemma.

No, that’s not an indictment of Watson’s talent level or a proclamation that the two are even remotely similar players. Watson is far more athletic, competed (and won) in big games on big stages in college, and appears to have a grasp of Bill O’Brien’s notably complex offensive scheme that previous Texans’ quarterbacks never did. And considering that Texans’ fans have been waiting since the franchise’s inception for a quarterback who can bring a dynamic element to the offense that keeps opposing defenses guessing, it’s no wonder that the fanbase is heaping praise on Watson and declaring that the wait for a franchise signal caller is finally over.

(Quick aside: if you’re one of the not-at-all witty bastards who Tweeted “Houston, we have a quarterback!” here’s hoping your kidneys explode. Leave that phrase with Apollo 13 where it belongs.)

Here’s the thing: it’s been three (and a half) games. Take a deep breath, people.

“I just took a steaming dump on the Titans to the tune of an NFL rookie-record 5 touchdowns” Deshaun Watson is the same guy as “I passed for a paltry 125 yards and zero touchdowns against Cincinnati” Deshaun Watson.

“I damn near led us to an upset win on the road in New England” Deshaun Watson is the same player as “I barely completed 50% of my passes and posted a 42.7 QBR against the Jaguars at home” Deshaun Watson.

Yes, there were injuries to Will Fuller and Bruce Ellington in the earlier games and the argument can be made (rightfully so) that it’s Watson’s progression in such a short period of time that’s got everyone so pumped. But again, the kid has started exactly three NFL games. Let’s not saddle him — or the team — with unrealistic expectations.

If we’re being realistic — something sports fans who are recently enamored with an athlete, especially one on the team they root for, hate to do — Watson’s two-week annihilation of NFL defenses could very well have just as much to do with the opposition being atrocious defensively as with his being impressive offensively.

Consider this: heading into Week 3, the Titans’ defense ranked 27th in the league in yards per game allowed. The Patriots — who Watson picked apart last week — ranked dead last.

Take a gander at the Texans’ first half performance against Tennessee, where one could argue that the biggest play on nearly every drive came as a result of piss poor defense by the Titans:

Drive #1: 4 plays, 43 yards – Lamar Miller 2-yard TD run (Texans lead 7-0)

KEY PLAY: Facing a 2nd & 7 from the Titans’ 40-yard line, Watson completes a 35-yard pass to Bruce Ellington at the Tennessee 5 yard line. Replays show Ellington running wide open down the middle of the field between two utterly confused Titans defenders. Houston scores two plays later.

Confused_Titan_Defenders

Drive #2: 11 plays, 76 yards – Watson TD pass to Deandre Hopkins (Texans lead 14-0)

KEY PLAY: After a beautiful misdirection in the backfield, Watson dumps the ball off to Lamar Miller, who has open field in front of him that equates to the approximate surface area of both North and South Dakota. Miller scampers 32 yards and the Texans score two plays later.

Miller_Dakotas

Drive #3: 9 plays, 76 yards – Watson’s 2nd TD pass to Will Fuller (Texans lead 21-0)

KEY PLAY: The biggest gainer on this particular drive was a 17-yard dump off to Stephen Anderson, who catches the ball and turns around to find precisely no one within 10 yards of him. Big gain. Texans score two plays later. (Notice a pattern yet?)

Anderson_NoOne

Drive #4: 12 plays, 43 yards – Fairbairn 50-yard FG (Texans lead 24-7)

KEY PLAY: Perhaps the biggest play of this drive was the one Watson didn’t make, missing a wide open Will Fuller on what would have been a 39-yard touchdown pass.

BlurryWillFuller

Drive #5: 2 plays, 58 yards – Watson 1-yard TD run (Texans lead 30-14)

KEY PLAY: With the Titans closing the gap to 24-14, Watson’s touchdown gave the Texans some much needed breathing room late in the first half. But it was a 45-yard pass interference penalty — with Tennessee rookie defensive back Adoree’ Jackson mugging Will Fuller — that set up the touchdown on the very next play.

JacksonClubsFuller

Miraculously, the Titans gave Houston yet another chance to score in the first half after Marcus Mariota threw his second interception of the afternoon on Tennessee’s first play from scrimmage following the Watson touchdown run. The Texans marched down to the Titans’ 18 yard line only to have Watson make one of his few mistakes of the afternoon, throwing an ill-advised pass that was easily picked off near the goal line and costing Houston an opportunity for at least a field goal heading into the locker room.

It’s that Deshaun Watson that Texans’ fans need to be prepared to see: the one that makes bad decisions because he’s a 22-year old rookie in the NFL. The one that will inevitably get caught up in the moment when things are going well and try to do too much; or get frustrated in the moment when things are going badly and try to do too much.

Houston fans have every right to be excited about what Deshaun Watson has already brought to the table. We here at DSB sure as hell are. Here’s hoping the Texans’ faithful are as willing to forgive his inadequacies when they rear their ugly heads as they are to praise his outstanding play over such a small sample size against sub-par competition.

Why It’s Okay to Hate the Patriots

No, it’s not because they beat the Texans. Again.

And for the record, no, they didn’t cheat. Nor do they have the refs in their pockets. Nor does the NFL want them to win.

They beat us. Straight up. (That would read so much cooler if there was a Teddy KGB font.)

All of that said, it’s still okay if you want to hate the Patriots organization. Why? Because, despite being one of the most successful franchises in all of sports over the past 15 years – with an owner worth several billion dollars who pays to have Super Bowl rings turned into cufflinks and presented as gifts to the President of the Unites States – those bitches charged their fans up to $5 a pop for tap water at the game this past Sunday.

Bleacher Report’s Rob Goldberg:

“The New England Patriots charged fans $4.50 to $5 for tap water after running out of bottled water during Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, according to ESPN.com.”

Look, we take a lot of things for granted in this country and clean water is one of them. Just ask the folks in Flint, Michigan. It’s a precious commodity that a significant portion of the world doesn’t have the good fortune to enjoy.

But for fuck’s sake, New England.

“We apologize. That should not have happened,” Patriots spokesperson Stacey James said on Monday.

In addition to her “spokesperson” role, Stacey James also proudly serves as New England’s official Purveyor of the Painfully Obvious.

“It is the first time that I have ever heard that complaint here.”

One can only hope that Ms. James meant to say that it’s never happened before. Stating that she’s never “heard that complaint” makes it sound like there’s a possibility that they’ve pulled this shit in the past, but she didn’t hear about it because she was hiding in the corner, doing her best impression of the Hear No Evil monkey.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 6.43.54 PM

“We are looking into the matter to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

No “looking into the matter” is required, Ms. James. Order. More. Fucking. Water. Problem solved.

“As Sophia Eppolito of the Boston Globe reported, the team had four times the inventory of water bottles for an average game due to expected high temperatures.”

So you’re telling me that the team quadrupled their order for water bottles in anticipation of the heat and still ran out? Holy hell! It must have been positively scorching up there!

“Per Pro Football Reference, it was 84 degrees at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. at game time.”

Wait, 84 degrees? Four times the regular inventory of bottled water wasn’t sufficient to help Patriots’ fans survive a blistering 84-degree afternoon?

That’s it. From this moment forward, any New Englander who ridicules someone living south of the Mason-Dixon for overreacting to cold weather is getting smashed in the genitals with a blunt instrument.

Seriously? 84 degrees? You know what we call it down here in Houston when the temperature outside hits 84 degrees?

Winter.

“Stadium workers struggled to get the bottles to each concession stand in a reasonable amount of time.”

The mental image of Gillette Stadium workers sprinting from one concession stand to the next with wheelbarrows full of bottled water, dodging hordes of Patriots’ fans who are wandering the concourse like dangerously parched zombies, makes me positively giggly.

“While an announced attendance of 65,878 got to see a dramatic 36-33 win over the Texans, this situation clearly wasn’t ideal.”

Look out, Stacey James. Rob Goldberg is coming for your job.