Texans fans want Kubiak fired, are planning protest

Texans fans are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.

According to the Houston Chronicle and ESPN.com, fans who believe coach Gary Kubiak should be fired are organizing a rally for Sunday’s game to make their point.

Fans Brad White and Scott Carter are hoping the demonstration before Sunday’s season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars will help convince team owner Bob McNair to change coaches, according to the report.

“I want to stress that I don’t want people to come out to bash Kubiak,” White told the Chronicle. “We don’t want vulgar signs out there. We’re not there to bash him. We’re there to say that we want a change.”

“Five years has been enough,” White said of Kubiak’s coaching tenure in Houston, according to the report. “We’ve regressed this year. Minus a couple players, we believe the players aren’t responding to [the coaching staff] anymore.”

I don’t disagree that Kubiak should be fired – his record (36-43) through five seasons speaks for itself. Many people believe that this team has had enough talent to at least make one playoff appearance in the past few years but it just hasn’t happened.

That said, the Texans had issues coming into the season that people wanted to look past because of their explosive offense. Everyone knew the secondary was highly inexperienced as a whole and would need time to gel. So it shouldn’t be surprising that opposing teams were able to shred Houston through the air on a weekly basis.

Everyone got excited when the Texans started 4-2, as well they should have. That win against the Colts in Week 1 was impressive and they showed some grit on the road in Week 2 against the Redskins.

But when a team has issues, they eventually come to the surface and that’s what happened in Houston. It didn’t help that Andre Johnson was banged up for most of the year, or that Owen Daniels was still recovering from knee surgery, or that Matt Schaub showed an inability to finish games strong. The wheels came off and unfortunately for Kubiak, he’ll be the one that has to pay for that.

But just because the Texans make a coaching change doesn’t mean that all of their problems will vanish. This isn’t a team that’s one missing piece away, which has to be disheartening to fans.

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Injuries create fantasy opportunities

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 17: Mario Manningham  of the New York Giants against the Detroit Lions at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 17, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

In this, the last week of byes, there are a few situations that have created opportunity for (somewhat desperate) fantasy owners to pluck a player off the waiver wire and immediately insert them in their starting lineups:

1. Steve Smith 2.0 is out. Mario Manningham is a top 20 play this week. Manningham is available in about 40% of ESPN leagues, so he’s not widely available. But if he’s out there, he’s a pretty solid WR2/flex option with Smith 2.0 sidelined in a great matchup with a very suspect Cowboys’ pass defense. If Manningham is on your bench, consider starting him this week. I have him ranked #19.

2. Owen Daniels is ruled out. Joel Dreessen looks like a sneaky good play. Last week, with Daniels sidelined, Dreessen caught five passes for 67 yards and was the most-targeted Texan receiver (8). He has caught two TDs on the year and has a terrific matchup with Jacksonville, who is among the worst at giving up points to opposing TEs. I have him ranked #14 this week.

3. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are out. Mike Goodson gets the start. Tyrell Sutton is out as well, so Goodson has no competition for carries this week. The Bucs are 30th against the run, so there is some opportunity for Goodson to rack up some yards on the ground. He is also dangerous as a pass catcher, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gained 120+ yards from scrimmage. I have him ranked #26 this week, so he’s a fringe RB2/flex play.

Texans would be wise not to overlook Raiders

Sep 26, 2010; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (5), left, and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 24-23. . Photo via Newscom

The Raiders are about where everyone thought they’d be at this point in the season: sitting with a losing record.

The Titans crushed them in Week 1, they hung on to beat the Rams in Week 2 and Sebastian Janikowski missed a 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds against Arizona last week that would have put them at 2-1.

But at least Al Davis’ team has shown that they have a pulse and a lot of that has to do with the spark that quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has given them. According to ESPN.com, his 10.6 yards per attempt average leads all NFL quarterbacks this season, which provides some proof that he’s throwing the ball vertically and staying aggressive in the passing game.

After Davis acquired Jason Campbell from the Redskins this offseason, not many people expected Gradkowski to be leading this team so early in the season. But he’s playing well and now has a golden opportunity to make a name for himself if he can lead Oakland to a victory over Houston this weekend.

The Texans currently rank 31st in total defense and 32nd in pass defense. They start a rookie in Kareem Jackson at one corner and a second-year player in Glover Quin at the other. There’s no need to make Gradkowski out to be Peyton Manning, but he could definitely do some damage against the young, inexperienced secondary that he’ll face this weekend.

Houston may also be depleted, as Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels have both missed practice this week with injuries. Johnson says he’ll play, but a high ankle sprain has left him sore throughout the week and Daniels is dealing with a hamstring injury (and is still recovering from knee surgery). It should go without saying that teams can’t overlook any opponent in the NFL, but that’s especially the case this Sunday for the Texans when they travel to Oakland.

Could there be an upset in the making?

Will inexperience at cornerback hold the Texans back in 2010?

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 08: Pierre Garcon #85 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball while defended by Jacques Reeves #35 and Glover Quin #29 of the Houston Texans during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts won 20-17.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Merry preseason, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing whether or not inexperience could derail the Texans’ playoff hopes.

As we head into a new season, you get the sense that the Houston Texans are on the verge of making their first playoff appearance in franchise history. They have a great core on offense featuring Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and Owen Daniels (when healthy), as well as several young defensive playmakers in Amobi Okoye, Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans.

But unfortunately, the Texans still have plenty of question marks at the cornerback position, enough to make you wonder if this team will once again come up short in their bid to make the postseason.

Their top corner left via free agency this offseason when Dunta Robinson signed with the Falcons. Some pundits will point out that Robinson struggled last year – and he did, recording zero interceptions despite playing the full 16-game slate.

But I asked both Daniels and wide receiver David Anderson this offseason about what Robinson brought to their team and they both essentially said the same thing: Toughness. Despite being 5’10” and 182 pounds, Robinson often played like a middle linebacker in that he never shied away from contract and loved coming up to make a big hit.

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Owen Daniels cleared to play

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 04:  Tight end Owen Daniels #81 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

There were a couple of pieces of good news for Owen Daniels this week. First, he had an MRI that said he was fully healed. Later, he was cleared to play by the noted sports physician Dr. James Andrews, who was the one who surgically repaired the torn ACL in Daniels’ right knee.

“Owen’s been cleared; totally healthy,” Kubiak said on Wednesday. “I was out on the practice field during special teams and he called (head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan) and we talked to Dr. Andrews, and boy, he’s fired up. It’s great for our team.”

Daniels has been going in the late 7th for the whole month of August, but when you look at his average numbers for the first seven games of the season — 5.6 catches for 71 yards and 0.7 TDs — that’s 17.0 fantasy points per game in a PPR league, which are TE1-type numbers.

Sure, he’s a risk, and he’s probably not going to come out in Week 1 and tear up the Colts’ defense, but he is a proven player and the doctors are saying that he’s ready to go.

After Tony Gonzalez and Brent Celek are off the board, I’d start thinking about Daniels in the 6th round. I’ve been targeting Zach Miller in the 8th, and will continue to do so, but Daniels is the more proven player, so it’s a different kind of risk.

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