Some losses linger. And some couldn't be scrubbed off by a Hazmat suited crime cleanup crew.
The Houston Texans' 38-13 beatdown defeat to the St. Louis Rams belongs in that latter category. Even the guys who put up the signs in the Texans locker room struggle to move on from this one. Typically, the "One Focus" signs that feature the logo of the team's next opponent are changed almost as soon as a game ends. Especially after a loss.
Not this Sunday. Instead, the Rams logo is still up there, on both ends of the locker room, at 3:48 p.m., nearly an hour after the clock mercifully struck 00:00 on another embarrassing Texans afternoon.
Yes, absolutely everything is going wrong for Gary Kubiak's Texans. Even the sign guys nearly fumble.
"We're not playing good football at all right now," middle linebacker Brian Cushing says. "It's not even like we're close."
Trying to argue that Schaub played "pretty darn good," as Kubiak puts it, only shows how far the standards have fallen. You don't think the rest of the team's noticed?
Instead a team with Super Bowl visions (and talent) sits at 2-4, having suffered four straight losses — with the last two coming in complete, no-challenge blowouts. These Texans are as confounded and clueless as you'll ever find an NFL team.
"We're heading through a downpour of adversity," veteran defensive end Antonio Smith says.
Most of it is of their own making. These Texans are their own cruel rainmakers. This roster is better than this. This coach is too.
Kubiak keeps taking the blame — and changing nothing.
How did he expect the Texans to react when he sent out the same reeling quarterback who tossed seven points to the other team in four straight games? With his team dying for something daring, Kubiak decides to rely on the old loyalty card. These Texans have seen that from Kubiak many times before — and they're obviously not responding to to it.
And please let's drop any notion that Matt Schaub played "well" or "great" as some of his teammates suggest. Before some dopey fans embarrass themselves by heartlessly cheering when Schaub hurts his leg in the third quarter, the quarterback's led the Texans to six points in six possessions.
If Schaub put together a game like this last season, he would have never heard the end of it.
Trying to argue that Schaub played "pretty darn good," as Kubiak puts it, only shows how far the standards have fallen. You don't think the rest of the team has noticed this?
Maybe Kubiak deserves a pass on this one though. If Schaub's injury is anything close to serious, it's no super stretch to imagine this being the last, significant game action of his Texans career. Any coach would throw one of his favorite players a bouquet in such a scenario.
How Kubiak reacts from here is going to be the true test.
DeAndre Hopkins Lessons
Any idea that Kubiak isn't a good enough coach to push these Texans toward a new upward direction is laughable. The man knows offensive football. He embraced playing an undrafted free agent at one of the game's most high-profile positions, helped mold that guy into a true pro and now the rest of the NFL is still trying to catch up to Arian Foster.
Kubiak needs to see if he can pull off something similar with Case Keenum, the former University of Houston NCAA record smasher.
You live with Hopkins' mistakes and just keep throwing him the football.
He needs to stick with rookie wideout DeAndre Hopkins, mistakes no matter. In truth that's one of the real more alarming signs from the Rams debacle — the fact that Hopkins seems to be largely removed from the passing game once he fumbles inside the St. Louis' 15-yard line.
Yes, it's a devastating turnover. But these Texans are never getting anywhere without the man with the 3XL hands. DeAndre Hopkins is not Matt Schaub. He's a 21-year-old, first-year player. His upside is tremendous. This is the type of future star you buy into, no matter what the short-term costs are.
You live with DeAndre Hopkins' mistakes and just keep throwing him the football.
Keshawn Martin isn't in the same class as Hopkins — and getting the ball ripped out of your hands and returned for a touchdown is about as bad as it can get for a kick returner — but there's still enough potential in this second-year player from Michigan State to stick with him too. If Kubiak plays the rest of this season right, he can set the Texans up for a bright offensive future while salvaging something out of the year.
Oh, you can forgot those Super Bowl schemes. That's off the table now. These Texans are closer to turning into the 2013 New York Giants than the 2013 Denver Broncos. But they can grab back the love of the city and make themselves NFL relevant again.
"He's a tremendous coach. He's a coach who does everything right for us. He takes care of us."
If only their coach shows them the way.
Remember when Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys stood out as the rightly ridiculed and mocked NFL bunch in Texas? You needn't go back far. But there Romo and the 'Boys are after dropping 48 points on the Broncos and running away from Robert Griffin III on Sunday Night Football standing tall as an NFL intrigue. While the Texans wallow in the mud, soon to be forgotten all together if they don't act fast.
"I don't even have the words for it," veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph says. "There's so much stuff going on, it's kind of hard to get into words."
It's looking a lot like that 6-10 lost 2010 season when Arian Foster couldn't be stopped and almost no one else could do anything. Kubiak is a good enough coach to change this though.
"He's a tremendous coach," Cushing insists. "He's a coach who does everything right for us. He takes care of us."
Now, Kubiak has to push change and force these Texans into the future. There are going to be plenty of bumps. You really can't blame the sign guys — or anyone else — for not wanting to move on to 6-0 Kansas City. Gary Kubiak is the offensive mind to do it though.
If, only, he lets himself do it.