This is an unsettling thing: Once, when I was in college, I went to a park near the campus to play pickup soccer with a few people. While I was sitting in the front seat of my car putting on my cleats, I saw a dog get run over by a single-cab truck. The dog, a tiny yellow thing, had bounced away from his or her owner and ran out into the road and GROSS.
I remember the guy that the dog belonged to shouting, "Oh no! OH NOOOOOO!" to nobody at all. Up until that point, it was the saddest I'd ever heard anyone sound. It was devastating. And gruesome. The dog looked like how the toothpaste tube looks when it's halfway empty. The guy kneeled next to the dog and just cried and looked around and then cried some more. Nobody knew what to do, because everyone knew there was really nothing that could be done. The dog was dead, even though it stayed alive for a few minutes after the accident.
Hand to God, this was the first thing I thought about after the Texans lost again on Sunday.
It’s pretty clear now that you cannot win a Super Bowl with Matt Schaub as your quarterback. Schaub just lacks that extra gear that sets him apart from the likes of Brady and Manning. The flip side, of course, is that he lacked the extra gear to inspire any real animus. Or so we thought. ntil proven otherwise, he would softly let you down, not break your heart. Schaub certainly wouldn’t cause the ostensibly sensible and grateful Texans fans to burn his uniform in the Reliant Stadium parking lot. Or confront the man at his home. Or cheer when he left a hopeless game against the Rams with a bum ankle. Oh, by the way, Eagles fans are off the hook now — at least they cheer when the other team’s guys get hurt.
If there really is salvation for Schaub, it’s not going to come in Houston. Not right now, at least, not when Case Keenum is living the broken dreams of Colt Brennan, Timmy Chang, Trevor Vittatoe, Graham Harrell, and every other gunslinging system quarterback by getting the big promotion from the practice squad for the hometown team. Plus, how would you feel if Willie D was going at your ass on Twitter with his best material since "We Can’t Be Stopped"?
Who's That Guy is an orientation tool we've been using to navigate college football's vast landscape. This week we're sticking a foot out of bounds to highlight a former NCAA great making his NFL debut. WTG is filmed in front of a live studio audience.
Who Is He? Houston quarterback Case Keenum. Houston Cougars or Houston Texans? Both!
Where Is He From? Abilene, Texas. We Probably Could Have Guessed That, Seeing As How His Name Is "Case Keenum." Did you know his middle name is "Austin"? Bullshit. Totally true.
Years Played: Keenum played four college seasons, plus three games in an injury-shortened season for which he later received a medical redshirt; he has yet to see regular-season NFL action.
Follow the Bouncing Ball: Keenum's collegiate career saw him set NCAA records for career total offense, passing yards, completions, and touchdown passes, and become the NCAA's first player with three 5,000-yard passing seasons. In his time as a Cougar, he recorded 1,546 completed passes for 19,217 yards and 155 touchdowns, as well as 300 rushes for 897 yards and 23 scores. Keenum signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent and spent the 2012 season on the practice squad. He entered 2013 behind Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates on the roster; following an injury to Schaub and a brief but unpromising stint with Yates at the helm, the Texans announced that Keenum would start in Week 7 at Kansas City.
A good rule of thumb for gambling is that anytime Vegas sets a "record" point spread, you should take the underdog. No matter how great one team is and how horrible the other is, the laws of the universe almost always keep it close somehow. That's what happened in Denver on Sunday.
It didn't matter that Peyton Manning said this last week: “We’re playing a good NFL football team. I don’t look at anything besides what I see on the tape on defense, and I see a team that’s stingy in the red zone, I see some offenses that have made some really good plays against them, that have been hard to defend. Certainly, you know, it’s a team with a lot of pride.”
Afterward, he was saying this: "Sometimes, you score a lot of points and people take it for granted. Even people in your own building can take it for granted. It's not easy to win football games. I learned a long time ago, don't take winning for granted."
It was always going to be that way. The hidden bonus in all this?
In case you were busy stridently fighting off accusations of having brought the weather with you, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Adam Wainwright guided the Cardinals into the NLCS, throwing a complete game as St. Louis eliminated the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 6-1 win, because of course he did. David Freese hit a clutch home run in an elimination game, because of course he did. Yadier Molina was a rock both behind the plate and in the lineup all series long, because of course he was. Two of St. Louis's three Matts — Holliday and Adams — picked up the third, a slumping Carpenter, because of course they did. And the St. Louis Cardinals will now move on to the NLCS, where they will have home-field advantage against the Los Angeles Dodgers, because of course they will. In the NLCS the Cardinals will play a hard-fought, professional series, where win or lose the players will be able to leave with their heads held high, because the St. Louis Cardinals are the St. Louis Cardinals and will always be the St. Louis Cardinals.
The St. Louis Blues, meanwhile, continue to back up their preseason hype, getting a goal from Alexander Steen with 21 seconds left in regulation to edge the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, and maintain their perfect start to the NHL season. Looking forward, the Blues will somehow contrive to both win their division by 12 points and get swept out of the Western Conference finals by inferior opposition, leaving them unable to hold their heads up high, because the St. Louis Blues are the St. Louis Blues and will always be the St. Louis Blues.
Daniel Radcliffe named his fantasy football team Barkevious Mingo's Mum, and now that I know that, my life is complete. Wizards are surely mankind's finest fake football players, and they apparently boast unrivaled team-naming prowess, so we can assume that Danny Rad took Peyton Manning first overall, eschewed disappointing backs like Stevan Ridley and David Wilson, and scored Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas late. We muggles? We didn't do so hot.
Remember, this is what first rounds tended to look like just one month ago (per Fantasy Pros):
We're keeping it quick with BQBL this week, and we begin in Houston. It's damn near impossible for a bad quarterback to top a game in which he was beating the best team in the league only to have the lead slowly slip away, putting an exclamation point on it all with a pick-six to finally give away the game. But Matt Schaub did it against the 49ers. There was only one option for the encore, and he pulled it off.
HE CRACKED TRIPLE DIGITS.
Thirty five points for getting benched in the second half, 35 points for three interceptions and a pick-six, and 38 more bonus points for some other miscellaneous achievements in awful.
His total of 108 may not be topped the rest of the year.
It's not entirely Eli Manning's fault, but do you see what's happening so far this year? He's thrown eight interceptions through three games, his team is 0-3, they just got blown out by 38 points, and after the game Sunday one of his wide receivers said, "You've got to control what you can control. I can't throw it to myself."
"Not a smart thing to say," Tom Coughlin grumbled at the next day's press conference.
Meanwhile, Hall of Fame linebacker and announcer Carl Banks popped up to chime in with his own takes. "They don’t like themselves," he said about the offensive line. "That’s what it really comes down to. They don’t like each other. They’re not willing to fight for each other. When you have a premier quarterback in this league, and you don’t have enough self-respect — not for him, but for yourself — to protect him to do your job, I think it speaks volumes. I think these guys really do need to all stand in [front of] the mirror, and it’s gut-check time."
Banks added: "I don’t think I’ve seen a collective group just line up and get punched in the face and stand up and do it again and again and again."
Again and again and again and again and again. That's the Giants through three weeks.
In case you were busy swearing off s'mores forever, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
David Price finished off a spectacular July by spinning another stellar 7⅓ innings of work in Tampa Bay's 2-1 win over the Boston Red Sox. "I may be pretty good at pitching," said Price of his accomplishments, "but I'm just like anyone else. I still call my dog Astro 'a little munchkin baby bear, who's a baby, who's a little baby, you are, yes you are, good boy. Who thinks he's people? You do. With your little people dog legs. Little fur stick legs. Who's a little Doctor Woofingpants? Astro's a little Doctor Woofingpants, Woofingpants to the OR, Woofingpants to the OR!' just like anybody else." When told that no one else called his dog any of that, Price was too busy trying to get a bite of Astro, thinking his tail was food, to respond.
Jason Giambi at 42 years old broke Hank Aaron's record as the oldest man in baseball history to hit a walk-off home run, as the Cleveland Indians topped the Chicago White Sox 3-2. Giambi then pressed his luck in attempting to also become the oldest man to win Camp Cuyahoga's Chubby Bunny contest, before being rushed to the hospital after choking on marshmallow 36, leaving him three shy of Aaron's mark, set on a getaway day in 1975. When told of Giambi's run at his records, Aaron responded, "Whayouthinthacalmehammah?" before swallowing the half-bag of partially digested marshmallows in his mouth and repeating, "Sorry. Why do you think they call me the Hammer?"
With free agency and the draft process revving up, there are plenty of questions for every NFL team. But for most, there's one issue that trumps the rest. This is the latest in a team-by-team look at the offseason tasks that just can't get botched.
When the Texans’ season ended in New England, where Houston got its second beatdown in as many trips to Foxborough, most of the panic was directed at Matt Schaub. Yes, Schaub threw for 343 yards — one less than Tom Brady — but it required 51 attempts to get there. In today’s NFL, teams just don’t win Super Bowls without their best player residing under center, and although Schaub has put together his share of solid years in Houston, he isn’t the type of quarterback who wins in January. Or at least that’s how the thinking seemed to go.
That opinion of Schaub may be true, but in evaluating how far apart the Patriots and Texans actually were, the more telling difference was among those getting the throws, rather than those making them. New England spent almost the entire game shorthanded (as the Pats had been for the most of the year) after Rob Gronkowski reinjured his forearm. The typical Patriots still had their impact — Wes Welker had eight catches for 131 yards, and Aaron Hernandez added six for 85 — but it was the output of a lesser name that said everything anyone needs to know about the New England offense. For the entire regular season, Shane Vereen had eight catches for 179 yards. He totaled about half that against Houston, hauling in five passes for 83 yards, two of them for touchdowns. Vereen lined up all over the formation, and New England used the reserve running back to constantly exploit the coverage deficiencies of Houston’s inside linebackers. It was the exact type of opponent-specific game planning that has made the Patriots a problem for the past decade.
The thought had lingered all weekend — for the past couple weekends, actually — but it took Matt Schaub’s trip to Foxborough for it to take hold. Houston had just completed another seven-yard pass on a third-and-8, and as it became clear that the Texans’ tailspin would end with nothing more than a death rattle, I wondered whether this was it for Matt Schaub.
This doesn’t mean I think Schaub’s time in Houston is over. Matt Schaub will be the Texans’ starting quarterback next season, and he probably should be. In every season in which Matt Schaub started 16 games, he’s thrown for 4,000 yards. He’s been to the Pro Bowl twice, the most recent trip being just last season. In the world, there are probably 15 men better than Matt Schaub at what Matt Schaub does. The problem for the Texans, and the problem for a handful of teams around the league, is that Matt Schaub’s competence may actually be their undoing.
Being that Tuesday was Christmas and all, we decided to post this little scoring update a bit late so everyone could get their BQBL finals matchups in order for Week 17. In the event that you aren’t familiar with the playoff structure, please refer to this post from last year and adjust your leagues accordingly. Basically, it boils down to this:
1. Single-elimination tournament
2. The top four teams in the league are in. Everyone else is out.
3. Those four keep one team's QBs already on their roster, and every team not kept is available for the playoff draft.
4. The four teams draft in order of their seed (tiebreaker is total points scored) until each has a new four-team roster for the playoffs. It's a non-snake draft — same order each round.
5. Week 16: no. 1 seed vs. no. 4 seed, and no. 2 seed vs. no. 3 seed
6. Week 17: Winners face off in the championship game
Now, if are reading this post and saying to yourself, “That is great and all, but I would have loved that information LAST WEEK because I didn’t know that Week 16 was the first week of the playoffs," then I have a solution. Take the top four teams in your league and set up a four-team final heading into Week 17. I always thought that having more than two teams to go head-to-head in a football fantasy league would be fun anyway.