Know Your Enemy: Steph Stradley of the Houston Chronicle

Stephanie Stradley was one of the first “Know Your Enemy” participants last year. True fans of your team’s weekly opponent are the best people to chat with to get the real goings-on. You want fan bona fides? Stradley was voted the Texans Ultimate Fan in 2006. That was the year that Vince Young took an overtime scramble to the house and Mario Williams seemed like an utter bust. Things have changed, to say the least, as the Texans are the sole undefeated team in the AFC. The pretenders are now contenders.

Steph tweeted me this awesome youtube video that completely trashes the Titans’ name and history. This, of course, comes from a fan of the least creative team name and color scheme in history (what came second to Texans, Football Players?). Let’s be fair, because the Oilers, who had one of the best color schemes in history, were unjustly stolen from her and there’s this line about a woman scorned that’s probably squared for female football fan.

Steph writes about the Texans for the Houston Chronicle and she is a Houston lawyer.

Let’s ask some questions.

If there were questions about Matt Schaub’s toughness, was it answered after he lost part of his ear and came back into the game one play later?
Eh, anyone who has been paying any attention to Matt Schaub’s career with the Texans haven’t questioned his toughness. Prior to Wade Phillips’ arrival, he played most of his games with very little defensive help to close out games and often was taking many hits while playing shootout games or from behind.

In 2008, Matt Schaub missed four games with a MCL injury due to two low, illegal hits from Jared Allen that resulted in $50,000 worth of fines. (A huge amount for 2008). His first start back was on the road, against the Green Bay Packers in cold weather. He was largely responsible for getting the Texans that win, with a 414 yard performance and a 104.7 QB rating.

In 2009, Schaub received a vicious hit against Jacksonville on the road that pinned his arms down. It dislocated his non-throwing shoulder, resulting in a Rex Grossman sighting and a 17-0 Jacksonville lead. Schaub got his arm popped back in, returned to the game.

Even the game where Schaub broke his foot last year in a very flukey play, he completed the entire game with the broken foot.

The smart question about Schaub isn’t about his toughness. [Zach note: I make sure to delete any questions that might be considered "smart".] No question he is tough. It’s about whether he can stay healthy through this season. In his first full five seasons in the league, he’s completed two seasons with 16 games, two with 11 games, one with 10 games. The seasons that he’s been injured, often it has related to dirty plays that resulted in $100,000 worth of fines.

Schaub is very important to the offense because it allows them to use all their weapons. He distributes the ball well and knows the offense as well as anyone. It’s not an unreasonable speculation that the Texans go to the Super Bowl last year had Schaub remained healthy.

This season, he’s been getting hit too much after the throw, including two roughing penalties last week, and the one that resulted in missing ear, a $50,000 fine and one game suspension. Kubiak wants those hits to decrease, but that’s hard to do while you are also learning up the right side of your offensive line with some very inexperienced players.

Are you going to miss Cortland Finnegan? Any new Titans that you love to hate? As all NFL fans should know, the correct name for Finnegan is Innegan, because Andre Johnson beat the F out of him.

Can’t say I’m a big Chris Johnson fan because he’s everything I don’t like in pro athletes: Guy who gets paid, doesn’t perform, has always conducted himself publicly in a low class way.

I don’t like any divisional opponent. I don’t like the Titans. But in particular, I loathe anything related to Bud Adams for obvious reasons.

Are they already printing 2012 AFC South Champions t-shirts in Houston? Are expectations sky-high with the franchise’s first 3-0 start?
Yes, expectations are high in Houston, but there is always a contingent of fans waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s been a very long time since Houstonians had any sports team that was considered a favorite most every week, and it can be hard to know how to regulate your feelings if you’ve always been an underdog rooter.

Given that the Texans are in the top 10 in both offense and defense, and many statistical categories, being optimistic about the Texans isn’t misplaced. But it is early in the season, and the key in the NFL isn’t just to start off strong, but to have health and momentum going into the playoffs. NFL is more of a marathon than a sprint.

How is the Texans’ D geared to not give up the big plays that the Lions did against the Titans last week?
What a peculiar game that was. Hard to project flukes and odd-bounces, but I think the Texans are both balanced against the run and the pass, and do a good job of adjusting that any one thing won’t hurt the defense. If you look to just about every defensive measure out there, the Texans are near the top of just about every category.

That being said, the season is still very early, and teams are still learning about themselves. The Titans have had a coach-killing, tough early schedule, and sometimes early year performances with very few games in the books can be overly negative or positive looking.

What can the Texans do to shut down or negate the Titans’ special teams?
Special teams have been a problem for the Texans this year. The Titans will certainly want to win the field position battle and have the ability to do so. The Texans have an experienced special teams coach, one that has had some very successful units. So the hope is that the young players on the return teams improve over the course of the season as they better learn what their responsibilities are.

Do you have a favorite tailgate beverage? Saint Arnold is the patron saint of beer, and Saint Arnold Brewing Company is Texas’ Oldest Craft Brewery, located near downtown Houston. Their founder has front row Texans tickets and the brewery hosts a tailgate party not too far from mine.

So, as I am a quality and not quantity drinker and like supporting local businesses, I prefer a Saint Arnold Amber Ale or a Santo on game day, but I pretty much enjoy all their beers. As an added bonus, their bottles aren’t very tall, so I can fit more of them in my beverage refrigerator.

I would like to offer thanks to Steph for answering my questions so quickly. Follow her on Twitter and check out her postings in the Houston Chronicle.

, , , , , ,

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Know Your Enemy: Steph Stradley Talks Texans | Zach on Sports - November 28, 2012

    [...] but Suh took down Schaub like cattle. Unnecessary. Career threatening stuff. [Zach note: See the last interview with Steph for her thoughts on Schaub's underrated [...]

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes