Tag Archives: Houston Texans

Miller, Lamar ‘Miller Time’

Card: Sage 2012
Acquired: 2017, Ebay

Lamar Miller has moved into white whale territory for me. I have been trying hard to get his autograph for the past few years now. I even went to what I thought was a signing down in Houston that he was doing at a bank. When I arrived after fighting my way through the rain, I found out that he was not going to sign outside items. There is no greater annoyance than an event not posting on their website that outside items are not allowed. I attempted to appeal to Lamar through his Twitter feed but, alas I was out of luck. It was a low point to my collecting- and it did some damage to my interest in making these long distance drives to autograph events around the state.

Lamar played for the Hurricanes from 2010 to 2011. He piled up the numbers in 2011 posting 227 carries for 1272 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also got involved in the passing game, catching 17 passes, and a little bit of time in the return game. He’d be selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Lamar worked his way into the starting lineup in 2013, starting 15 games that year. His first impact season came in 2014 when Miller ran for 1099 yards and 8 TDs including a 97 yarder. Over the years, Lamar became more involved in the passing game catching a career high 47 passes in 2015. 

In 2016 the Houston Texans were looking to reload at two workhorse positions, quarterback and runningback. The Texans plucked the two highest rated players from the free agency pool: Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller on the same day. I was beside myself with the signing of Miller. I knew that he was going to be counted on to replace Arian Foster. When given the choice of getting an Osweiler or Lamar Miller jersey- I didn’t skip a beat in selecting Lamar.  During his first season with the Texans, he carried the ball a career high 268 times, but the Texans essentially ran him into the ground. He finished with 1073 yards on the season in 14 starts. In his crowning moment, the Texans came back for victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Lamar caught a pass and did a 360 spin and dodged 3 would be tacklers en route to the endzone.

2017 was a down year for Lamar. He’d carry the ball 238 times for 888 yards in 13 starts and catch a career high 3 TDs. I am of the opinion that the team’s offensive scheme doesn’t compliment Lamar’s running style. Lamar is a great slasher back. You get him outside the tackles and let him work in open space and he’s pretty amazing. 

In 2018, Lamar earned his first Pro Bowl appearance. Starting 14 contests he put together 973 yards on 210 carries. His 4.6 YPC was his highest since 2014. He’d also become the first RB in NFL history with two 95+ yard TD runs- in his career, as he torched the Tennessee Titans during a pivotal matchup for a 97 yard gallop. Miller also chipped in 163 yards on 25 receptions.

Considered the incumbent back entering 2019, Miller looks to build off of an encouraging 2018 campaign.

Mercilus, Whitney ‘Merciless’

Card: Leaf Young Stars 2012
Acquired: 2015, EBay

The Houston Texans selected Whitney Mercilus out of Illinois in 2012 with the 26th pick, as the team needed him to step in and replace the recently departed Mario Williams in the sacks department. A late bloomer, Whitney earned multiple awards in his breakout college season of 2011, before declaring for the NFL Draft. That season at defensive end he led the nation with 16 sacks, and a hefty 9 forced fumbles.

It was not a bad rookie campaign for Whitney. He started 4 games and recorded 6 sacks, 18 total tackles, while forcing 2 fumbles, honing his skills under legendary defensive coordinator Wade Philips. It wasn’t really until 2015 that Whitney truly had his breakout campaign for the Texans. Shifted back and forth from defensive end to linebacker, Whitney had 12 sacks, 50 total tackles, and 2 fumble recoveries, nabbing second team All-Pro Honors. While he had a respectable follow up in 2016, with 7.5 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, and 53 total tackles- to go along with the league’s best defense, Whitney’s 2017 campaign was a complete wash as he blew out his pectoral game during the 5th game of the season landing him on IR- He’d finish the campaign with 10 combined tackles and 1 sack. Mercilus returned for the 2018 season and posted 39 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

After striking out on Whitney at my last great marathon Houston run, due in part to it being held at a Palais Royale location, I just opted to pick up this Leaf card of him instead. I had not been counting on an event with Whitney that day, but after receiving a tip at the stadium after getting Charles James, Lance and I decided to take a shot. We arrived and stood outside. I exchanged pleasantries with one of the hosts outside for the Texans. She dryly informed me that the event was a Battle Red Ladies event only and wasn’t for outside fans. I then watched Whitney drive up in his Porche and park then go inside. I was upset, but that’s the rules. Later that evening I saw on the news another fan who was in line with me earlier in the day. Notably it was a guy- so he shouldn’t have been able to get an autograph either but maybe his mom was there.  I’m still in pursuit of Whitney on a few cards. I have begun to refer to him as one of my ‘white whales’- that being a player that I seem to have trouble getting that I really want.

This is a nice entry from Leaf. The photography and the shot are pretty nice, and the autograph is definitely showcased on the canvas. Not a fan of the logo placement, dead short of center, but it’s all a pretty simple, clean, set up. Whitney must have learned his lesson from signing these cards. You can see that over time his autograph just seems to get weaker and weaker from signing so many stickers. It’s common now to see that he short signs his autograph with WM#59.

Savage, Tom

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Cards: Topps Finest 2015, Topps Prime 2015
Acquired: 2017, EBay

Tom Savage is a fierce competitor and a good study.  He started one season at Rutgers (2009) and put up solid numbers as a Freshman with 149 of 285 passing for 2211 yards and 14 TDs in 12 contests. He then lost the starting job after he busted up his hand in 2010 so Tom opted to transfer to Arizona and sat out a year. In the meantime the school fired its coach, so Tom transferred again- this time to Pitt where he was able to get one final year of eligibility in 2013. Savage posted 238 of 389 passing for 2958 yards and 21 touchdowns to only 9 interceptions. Scouts were intrigued. They felt that Savage was a nice sleeper for the right team. He has the right tools, build, a cannon for an arm, good football acumen, and is willing to just do whatever it takes.

Tom was projected to go in the 5th or 6th round of the 2014 Draft, and with a run on quarterbacks the Texans decided to pull the trigger selecting Savage in the 4th round. Pundits felt that Tom was the right fit, and Bill O’Brien the quarterback whisperer got his project to work on. He threw 19 passes his rookie year for 127 yards and an interception.

The Texans in the meantime continued to look at their quarterback options. 2015 went by and Tom didn’t throw a pass. It’d be in 2016 things got- well a bit crazy. The Texans decided to make a splash in free agency. Feeling that they were just a legitimate quarterback away from making that happen, Houston signed Denver backup signal caller Brock Osweiler to man the fort. Friction quickly grew between Bill O’Brien and Brock to the point the coach benched the erratic quarterback midway through a game against the Jaguars. Tom came in and lit a fire under the Texans guiding them to a win. For a second there fans thought that Savage was the answer at quarterback, but Tom would be concussed during a game against the Titans the following week ending his season.

During the offseason of 2017, Houston got rid of Osweiler while the Texans attempted to wait out the Cowboys for Tono Romo. Unable to make it happen the Texans named Savage the starter and then traded up and selected Clemson QB Deshaun Watson. Savage lasted all of 3 quarters into his first game against the new and improved Jaguars. It was really rough for Tom, but he was ever the team player. He’d return to the starting lineup again, after Watson tore his ACL, but suffer a vicious concussion against the 49ers ending his season. Highlights of his season included leading the Texans to a 31-21 win over the Cardinals on 22 of 32 passing for 230 yards and 2 TDs in Week 11, and in Week 13, when Tom threw for a career high 365 yards in a loss to the Titans. His final season numbers were 1412 yards on 125 of 223 passing and 5 TDs to 6 interceptions.

Moving into 2018 it really wasn’t known how the Texans would proceed further with the Tom Savage experience. It’s a shame really. I really like Tom and I still believe he can still ball in the league given the right situation. During the free agency period he signed with the New Orleans Saints where he lost a battle with Teddy Bridgewater to be Drew Brees backup.  He spent about a month on the roster of the 49ers, and as of the end of  2018 is a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.