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Beyond the Boxscore

Forget the Brett Favre fantasy: Wade Phillips is the Texans new quarterback, not the Mississippi egomaniac

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T.J. Yates
T.J. Yates is used to throwing his passes in shorts for the Texans. But he's the quarterback now. Courtesy of Houston Texans
News_Texans_Jacoby Jones_running
Jacoby Jones helped powered the quarterback-hurting Texans with his punt returns. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Wade Phillips sidelines
And Wade Phillips' Miracle Defense did it again. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Brett Favre Wrangler
T.J. Yates
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Wade Phillips sidelines

It's time for Gary Kubiak to start searching for the location of the voodoo doll targeting him that has pins sticking out all over it. Maybe, long past time.

It's not time for the Houston Texans to go chasing after Brett Favre. Desperately courting pro sports' ultimate egomaniac — and it would take plenty of courting and coddling — in an attempt to get him ready for a playoff run that still would likely only last one game would accomplish little in the big picture. And make no mistake, that is how this Texans' organization thinks, plots and plans.

For the long haul.

The Texans of general manager Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak are about as knee jerk as Barack Obama. They'll analyze a situation eight ways from Sunday and then take the safest alternative possible. Texans owner Bob McNair would have to force Smith to go after Favre and that doesn't really fit his personality either. McNair isn't a fan of fools — talented or not — and Favre is 42 going on 24, maybe, maturity wise.

He also hasn't thrown a football in a month, not even in a Wrangler commercial, and he's two years removed from his last effective NFL season. Why not offer Troy Aikman the job too?

No, the Texans are Matt Schaub's team. They were Schaub's team when Matt Leinart took over for almost a half and checked down to all those short throws in Jacksonville Sunday. And they're still Schaub's team now that Leinart and his porn-star worthy mustache are knocked out for the season as well. They'll be Schaub's team when he comes back from that absolutely flattened foot next season.

 Favre hasn't thrown a football in a month, not even in a Wrangler commercial, and he's two years removed from his last effective NFL season. Why not offer Troy Aikman the job too? 

You're crazy if you don't think the Texans organization isn't quietly looking ahead too. It's about next year now — as much as no one would ever admit it.

The rest of this season is about completing that next step, about making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and working to be in position to build on that when the roster is reloaded for 2012. It's not a given that this Houston team will walk into the playoffs, not even at 8-3 and still tied for the best record in the entire AFC, with only five games remaining.

Not with a fifth-round rookie starting at quarterback. Not with Chris Johnson rediscovering his game (190 yards rushing worth) and the Tennessee Titans only two games back with a date at Reliant to end the regular season.

Disaster is still in play, but bringing in Favre would hardly guarantee it'd be kept at bay anyway. By the time, the Mississippi prima donna would be ready to make an impact, the Texans would already be solidified or sunk.

The Real QB

Let's drop this notion that T.J. Yates is the new quarterback either. Oh, technically that's true. But for all practical purposes, Wade Phillips is the Texans' new quarterback.

The franchise is not putting the season in Yates' unsure hands, it's placing it in the firm grasp of a 64-year-old with a typical middle-aged man's belly.

The Texans will try to grab early leads and then rely on Phillips' Miracle Defense to hold those leads. Looking for exciting plays? You'd better hope Jacoby Jones breaks a long punt return, as he did in the 20-13 win over the Jaguars, to set up Leinart's first and last touchdown pass in 1,072 days. Or maybe cornerback Johnathan Joseph — who was the best free agent signing of the offseason, besides Phillips himself, for any team (I can admit when I'm wrong) — will pick off a pass and return it 60 yards.

 The franchise is not putting the season in Yates' unsure hands, it's placing it in the firm grasp of a 64-year-old with a typical middle-aged man's belly. 

A mere 30 didn't do the trick against the Jaguars, but Joseph loves a challenge. All of Phillips' guys do — and Kubiak won't let any offensive ego get in the way of letting them shoulder it.

"Our defense totally feels good about what Coach Kubiak did today," Connor Barwin said in a 610 AM radio interview after the Texans held the Jaguars to six offensive points and 255 total yards. "He just put the ball in the running backs' hands and relied on us to do our thing."

The Miracle Defense's thing included a franchise-record seven sacks on this Sunday in Florida. Four of those came from Barwin, the maniac whose facial hair choices can rival Leinart's for dubiousness, a man who suffered his own season-ending injury in last year's opening game.

Houston's defense will not have the pleasure of playing Blaine Gabbert — the worst quarterback in the NFL — every week. Even Joseph allowed, "Gabbert is not a great passer yet," which is a lot like saying that Lindsay Lohan still needs to work on her choices.

Facing Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton back-to-back-to-back in the next three weeks will produce more anxious moments. But this defense is what the Texans have. No smoke, mirrors or Favre can change that.

"It seems like we're losing players left and right," said Texans wideout Andre Johnson, who must be wondering where the rest of the offense went now that he's back. ". . . It's kind of crazy how we're losing players, but somehow we keep finding a way to overcome."

Which should make a playoff-clinching locker room champagne party even more emotional. No matter if the Texans are set up for first round slaughter.

This season is crazy enough to start searching for the source of the curse. (Are the ghosts of the Astrodome pissed at this sparkling showcase stadium they have to stare at every day? ) But visiting Hattiesburg, Miss., would be beyond crazy — downright Robert Durst territory.

Favre's already told Sports Illustrated's Peter King that he's not interested in coming back to play in Houston, and besides the Texans haven't even called him. Which in Favre speak is his way of saying: Show me you love me.

The Texans need to pass on playing that game though. Like it or not, they're built for the long haul.

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