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Q&A with Texans Chick: On Andre Johnson’s Punch, Schaub’s Production, and Cheerleaders in the State of Texas

Feb 1, 2010, 3:14 PM EDT

I caught up with our old friend Stephanie Stradley who was one of my colleagues and first bloggers at FanHouse. I answered a few questions about the Eagles for her over at the Houston Chronicle and she helped us get to know the Texans below. Plus, cheerleaders. We thought we’d let her introduce herself:

TexansCheerleaders Hi, my name is Stephanie Stradley and know more about the Houston Texans than is advisable from a mental health perspective. I’m known as the Texans Chick because basically I’m that chick that knows about the Texans, and had I known a message board name would stick, I’d probably would have picked a different name.  I write a Texans blog for the Houston Chronicle and also write for FanHouse. I was very happy that the Texans came into existence because after the Oilers left Houston, my NFL year basically consisted of hoping that that Cowboys and Titans ate crap.  Most weeks I still hope that they eat crap, but now at least I have a positive rooting interest in my home town team which is a good thing.  Started blogging in 2006 because there weren’t many Texans blogs following a 2-14 season, and I figured that the only way to read any team information other than the Texans suck for not picking Reggie Bush or Vince Young, that I was going to have to write it myself. You can follow me on Twitter @StephStradley and check out my YouTube Channel here.

Our Q&A plus a few Texans cheerleader videos below.

Enrico: To start, how do you feel about the Andre Johnson fight and did you think the punishment was just?

Steph: I think this tweet by Houston Chronicle columnist Jerome Solomon summed it up the best: “Text from NFL player: If Dre passed a hat around the league, he could pay his fine and have money left over for a new car.” Cortland Finnegan has bragged about wanting to be the dirtiest player in the league. Andre Johnson has a reputation for being a quiet guy who lets his play do the talking. Finnegan gets scrappy with opponents just about every game. Johnson has only had issues with Finnegan. Finnegan has a scumbag reputation. Johnson is basically what you wished every star receiver in the NFL was like. As Finnegan left the field, he was laughing and taunting the Texans players and the fans.  Johnson quickly left the field, and immediately after the game said exactly the sorts of things the NFL wants a player to say with an apology. So I think the NFL was appropriate for taking their relative reputations and history into account.

Every non-Titan fanbase in the AFC South division hates Cortland Finnegan for being a punk. And even some Titan fans don’t like him. So after it was clear that there would be no suspensions, it makes it much easier to give a “Like” to the “Andre Johnson whooping Finnegan’s ass” Facebook page which has all sorts of entertaining links on it. As of me writing this, 72,993 people like that page.

What do you think has caused Schaub’s production dropoff this year compared to last?

A number factors: 1. Not having one of the worst running games in the league with Arian Foster’s breakout season, and the focus of new offensive coordinator, Rick Dennison on a more balanced offense; 2. Andre Johnson playing through a high ankle sprain.  He missed one game because of it but it’s been causing him issues most of the season.  The Texans say it is not an issue any more; 3. Not being able to stay on the field, Part A: The Texans defense is so terrible that they can’t force punts.  This allows opposing teams to get huge times of possession unless they score right away with a big play.  4 Not able to stay on the field, Part B: With some drives, they’ve struggled making their third down conversions that they usually make; 5. The Texans won’t use this as an excuse, but I think Matt Schaub has been struggling with some physical problems from early in the season.  When he was recently hospitalized for a bursa sac issue, he mentioned that this was something that had been battling for the duration of the season.  He was hit a lot early in the season, and his throws haven’t looked like last year.

Even with a dropoff from his outstanding 2009, Schaub can still put together some very good drives.  The key for the Eagles is to get him outside his comfort zone.  If he gets in a rhythm, he can unleash The Dark Lord Schaub and is very hard to beat given all his targets.

How has Brian Cushing’s performance been since returning from suspension? Heard he didn’t practice Monday?

With the injury to MLB, DeMeco Ryans, Cushing dealt with temporarily being moved to MLB and then back to SLB after it was clear that in the scheme the Texans play, he would be too passive in the MLB position.  I think for the last two games, Texan fans have seen more of last year’s Cushing that can create disruption and turnovers.  Cushing plays very hard in games, and the team often takes precautions to keep him fresh. He didn’t practice all last season due to a foot issue and still played at a All Pro level as a rookie.  The Texans are very thin at linebacker with the injury to Ryans, and they can’t afford to have him hurt.

This is the Texans first legit playoff contender. What’s the general consensus feeling around the team the direction its heading in? How would it feel if you don’t make the playoffs?

This has been a very disappointing season for the Texans.  Last year, they almost went to the playoffs but the Jets got in due to the tiebreak with the last two teams rolling over for them, and that was seen as a lost opportunity. With the chaos in the AFC South, 2010 is seen also as a lost opportunity. The Texans are holding on for dear life.  You can’t tell if they are unlucky (give all their disappointing last second losses) or that they are lucky to have won any games at all.  They’ve won 5 games and were close to winning 3 more games, doing this with the worst defense in the league. This defense is worse than the 2005 team that won 2 games.  The offense feels like it has to score on every possession because they don’t trust the defense to stop anyone other than the Rusty Smith led Titans.

The team very much likes Gary Kubiak and they play very hard for him but often not smart, as relying young starters often do.  The Texans have the youngest starting defense in the league, the secondary is extremely young, and they play in an unproven defensive system run by an unproven defensive coordinator.  That doesn’t make a good combination.  With an explosive, though inconsistent offense and a defense that is garbage, the Texans can win or lose to any team in the league.

I’ve pretty much conceded that if this team makes the playoffs, it is due to a complete miracle.  A miracle or turning their defense from atrocious to even just average.

How about the Birds? One thing that really scares you and one thing you think the Texans might be able to exploit?

One thing that scares me?  Just one thing?  The Eagles are facing the worst defense in the league.  The Texans are bad against the run. They are really really bad against the pass. They are bad against #1, #2, #3 WRs, TEs, pass catching RBs. The Eagles make big plays on offense. The Texans give up big plays on defense.  The Eagles do a lot of misdirection plays and off-schedule runs with Mike Vick.  The Texans defense over-pursues a ton and struggles against quarterbacks who run.  The Titans Jeff Fisher once gave KERRY COLLINS designed running plays against the Texans to exploit how bad they are against running quarterbacks.  You could write an entire Dr. Seuss book about what scares me about this match-up.

As for what the Texans have to exploit, it is using all their offensive weapons and being accustomed to having to put points on the board.  Though the team has two explosive skill position players in Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, they are not afraid to spread the ball around.  Arian Foster is having a tremendous year, and I expect him to get a lot of touches both with the run and pass.  They’ve been able to put points up on a good Jets and San Diego defense.

Are you still doing all of those Texans cheerleader posts like you did back in the day?

Yes.  It is sort of demoralizing to think that no matter how much thought I put into a blog post, it will never get as many page hits as a Texans Cheerleader post.  Oil and cheerleaders are Texas’ most popular commodities.  And some years, the Texans Cheerleaders have been the team MVP.

In the spring, I was asked to be a Texans Cheerleader judge.  This involves watching hundreds of young, agile women dancing at you in rows of five.  I edited this down to give folks a sense of what this experience was like.  Apparently according to YouTube, this video has been seen in every country in the world except for a few in the middle of Africa and is popular with males between the ages of 25 and 54.

The Texans have a Salute to the Military day.  Here’s how the cheerleaders honor the military:

I ask Eagles fans after this week to make the Texans their favorite AFC team. It makes perfect sense. Cheerleaders… and nothing would make Jerry Jones angrier than his team sucking and the Houston Texans doing well.

A big thanks to Steph for taking the time to answer our questions.