When David Carr was selected Number One overall, my first thought was 'Who?'. My second was of immediate disappointment because I had either wanted Julius Peppers or (to my shame) Joey Harrington. In my defense, the only college game that I watched the year previous had been a game where Harrington took the Ducks on a last-minute drive to beat the opposition. I'm sure Dylan, being a Lions fan (Harrington's eventual destination), could tell you who he beat. We watched the game together, enrapt by Harrington's control over the offense, hitting receivers short and intermediate. There were no desperation throws. There was no hurry. Just a man who knew the business of moving the ball down the field. Well, most of us know how that one turned out. Harrington was moved out Detroit last year for a paltry 5th or 6th round pick. He played reasonably uncrappily for the Dolphins but they decided that they would take their chances with Daunte Culpepper's ailing knee and the stellar force known as Cleo Lemon. (More on the Dolphins further down).
Regardless, Carr was the horse they put their money on, so it was Carr for whom I would cheer when the regular season came around. I would have no choice, since they put him in as the starter immediately. Oh, the amazing power of hind-sight. (More on hind-sight, later)
Carr's first game in the regular season as a Texan was an amazing victory over the cross-state rival Cowboys. Two touchdowns (one to Cory C.S. Bradford and the other to Billy Miller) and the team was undefeated in its history (in the regular season).
The next week, the Texans came back down to Earth as San Diego pummeled them, registering, I believe, eight sacks. My question at this point was, what in the hell was Carr doing in the game after the FOURTH sack? But that question will forever remain unanswered.
Throughout the years, sacks would be something to which Carr would be no stranger. In fact, over his five years in Houston, Carr was sacked 249 times. I believe (and I don't think it's a stretch to believe) that this is a record over five years. Houston broke the record for sacks allowed in their inaugural season and then would have tied or broken it again in 2005 if 2002's sacks allowed hadn't been so prolific.
Last week, David Carr was released from the Houston Texans after they spent a second round pick this year, a second round pick next year and swapped first round picks with the Atlanta Falcons for quarterback Matt Schaub.
The price for Schaub, at first glance, seems pretty steep. It is my contention, however, that the trade is not as baffling as I had originally thought. Here's why:
According to the Jimmy Johnson Trade-Value Chart, the second this year, the second next year and the move from 8 to 10 is worth the equivalent of a first-round pick in the neighbourhood of 15-20. It is my contention that the Texans had planned on using their first-round pick on Brady Quinn, he of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They may have gotten some indication that Quinn would be picked by someone ahead of them and so decided that they needed to go in another direction. They brought in Patrick Ramsey and Jeff Garcia and Jake Plummer has never been far from the minds of those who know that Kubiak reformed Jake Plummer and that Plummer struggled (sucked) without his O.C. last year in Denver. None of these people became Texans, so the thought was that if they didn't draft a quarterback, David Carr would be the starter next year. So, they didn't use the #8 overall to pick a quarterback, they used the equivalent of the #15-20 overall and they still have a top-ten pick in this year's draft.
“But Liam,” you say, “2 second rounders for a quarterback that isn't proven is a little steep.” I'll agree with that, keeping in mind that the Raiders spent a 2nd on Marques Tuiasosopo and then another on Andrew Walter. The San Diego Chargers spent a second rounder on Drew Brees only to pick up Philip Rivers with the #5 overall (kind of... they had #1 and traded Manning away for Rivers and a boat-load of picks) a couple of years later. And Washington who spent a #1 on Patrick Ramsey and then another #1 on Jason Campbell.
Sure, quarterbacks fall out of trees for some teams (Green Bay, San Francisco, New England...) but the search for a Franchise Quarterback is one that has lost many coaches and personnel men their jobs.
Another point is this: You can think of this trade as trading up to #15 overall and picking Schaub in the draft. Except that he doesn't have to sit down at all. Like Kellen Clemens last year, Schaub, in his last year in college was injured, which dropped his stock to the third round. Granted, Clemens only fell to the second but the point is the same.
“What about all the picks?” Well, if we traded up to pick Schaub, who's to say we can't trade down from #10 to, say, 20-25, pick up an extra second and use our first-rounder to get Ryan Kalil, the best centre prospect in the draft? And then use the second in the same general way we would have used our original #2? Sure, the #2 next year chafes, and the draft is going to be boring between 1(10) and 3(9) but the excitement that this has generated over the past week is just astounding.
In the end, a member of the Houston Texans message board said it in a way that made the most sense to me. “Gary Kubiak should get to coach his guy. He pretty much got stuck with Carr last year and now that they're admitting that mistake (which Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans did at the Schaub press-conference), Kubiak should be allowed to choose the guy rather than picking cast-offs up from the scrap-heap.” I don't remember exactly how he said it but it was along those lines.
“But Liam,” you say, “The Texans should have traded Carr last year and used the #1 overall on Vince Young, the hometown boy!” The Texans could not have traded Carr without first extending his contract the way they did. This is the same contract that made the returns for him minimal, at best. Kubiak, in his job interview, told Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans, that he believed Carr could get a team to the Superbowl. Not a bold statement, since the not-so-dynamic duo of Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer managed to do the same thing for Baltimore. (I'm not comparing the Texans to the Ravens. Just that Carr could probably have gotten THAT team to the Superbowl.) Kubiak probably wouldn't have gotten the job without answering that question that way so I can understand why he would have held on to Carr.
So, David Carr was released outright. That doesn't necessarily mean that there were no trade offers. What it does mean is one of three things, in my mind: 1) The return for Carr wasn't enough to justify pushing all of his pro-rated bonus into this year, 2) Carr wouldn't restructure his contract to go to any of the teams the Texans were interested in trading with or 3) McNair decided that Carr should be released so that he could pick his own team, as a way of saying “I'm sorry we didn't protect you”, “I'm sorry the team sucked” or “I'm sorry for the offensive coordinators you had in your first four years.”
I'm inclined to believe the third point. It was stated that Carr asked to be released and that wish was granted.
Where will Carr go? I'm not really sure. The Dolphins could be a possible landing-spot, with their concerns over Culpepper's knee (and his general ineffectiveness), the departure of Joey Harrington and the fact that Cleo Lemon is the guy waiting in the wings. Oakland has been a hot possibility as well, since signing Carr could potentially free them up to draft WR Calvin Johnson who is widely-regarded as the best prospect in this draft (and narrowly-regarded as the best WR prospect ever out of college). If Kansas City trades (or releases) Trent Green, Carr might be welcome there to hold the spot for awhile. I'd be interested to see what he could do with Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez and company, especially with that massive offensive line in front of him. (It's sad to think that they have Willie Roaf – a guy who was removed from the expansion draft list while Tony Boselli was allowed on there and never played a single down for the Texans.)
I'll watch Carr's career with special interest. He was with the Texans before they turned the corner, he took a severe beating at the hands of opposing defenses and the only time he ever missed was three or four games in 2003 (I think) when he hurt his ankle. He kept bouncing back up after sacks, never threw any teammates under the bus (that I can think of) and he maintained his class even through the days where it was apparent he was no longer in the Texans' plans. I would ask how you could cheer against a guy like that but there are far too many people on the Texans Message Board who have shown me exactly how.
I'm okay with the release of Carr because of two very telling things.
1) Over the last 10 games of the season (that's TEN), Carr threw as many illegal forward passes (2) as touchdowns (2).
2) Carr's release shows that poor performance will lead to replacement. I didn't see this kind of culpability the entire time that Dom Capers was the coach of the Texans and I sure didn't see it during this past season. This shows me that the franchise no longer views itself as an expansion franchise. It's easy to say “Well, just let Carr play and see how he develops” until the fans are sick of the team and stop showing up to games (this hasn't happened yet) but to say, “David, you just didn't play well enough last year. We need to replace you.” That's telling about how I expect this team to be run from now on. No more baby-steps. Get an NFL-ready quarterback, start him from day-one and take this 6-10 team and keep making strides. No more negative-passing-yard days, no more “Well, if Boselli had actually played” and certainly no more “this team doesn't have enough weapons.”
That last one is going to be a hard one for me to get past. I have to realize that the Texans signed Ahman Green, re-signed Ron Dayne and Andre Johnson and have a fantastic young tight end in Owen Daniels, all of whom are ready to break out. Daniels had an incredible opening to last season. I don't know if he got hurt last year but when I looked last, he was ahead of Vernon Davis and all the other tight ends who were taken ahead of him. Another offensive play-maker I want to keep an eye on is Chris Taylor. All I heard coming into the season last year was how well he'd played in training camp and pre-season and that all they needed to do was to give him a chance. Well, he got that chance against Cleveland and he made the most of it, going over one-hundred yards. I can't wait to see how well he does with increased touches. (If he gets them)
I would love for the Texans to trade back in the draft, pick up Ryan Kalil and a second-rounder which they would then use on either a wide receiver to complement Andre Johnson or a free safety to render C. C. Brown redundant. Then they could address the other one with the third round pick they still have. All the other positions will do okay, I think. Defensive tackle is a little thin and I wouldn't mind a pass-rusher to take some of the heat away from Williams. But that's all want. We need a centre (Flanagan was NOT the answer), a WR and a free safety.
So, this Carr is Gone post has turned into a State of the Texans Address, apparently. I can live with that.