ANOTHER ROUGH DAY

10 observations from the Texans loss to the 49ers: Why is Vrabel getting a pass?

The Texans defense has regressed under Mike Vrabel. Getty Images

The Texans lost to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday 26-16. They were pretty much dominated from the start. Here are 10 observations on the game:

  1. Why is Mike Vrabel getting no heat? The Texans defense rarely gets sacks or turnovers. They have given up an NFL-most 14 plays of over 40 yards or more. They are often out of position. That’s on the defensive coordinator. We keep getting told this guy is a good coach. But the results say otherwise. Yes, there have been injuries. Romeo Crennel dealt with that last year and the results were much better.

  2. T.J. Yates looked much better than Tom Savage. Is this another case where Bill O’Brien’s  stubborn insistence that a guy can play cost his team? He has mismanaged his quarterbacks every year. It likely won’t matter next season if DeShaun Watson stays healthy, but…

  3. Kevin Johnson has seriously regressed. From penalties to just poor coverage, he looks nothing like the player he was before getting injured last year.

  4. Jimmy Garappolo is the real deal. The Texans could have drafted him instead of Xavier Su'a Filo. They have a promising quarterback now, but this guy looks legit. And San Fran gave up a lot less to get him.

  5. DeAndre Hopkins is playing out of his mind. It’s a shame his terrific season is being wasted. He had 11 catches for 151 yards and two TDs, giving him 11 for the season, something the great Andre Johnson never did. He did fumble in the fourth quarter, which proved crucial. If there is any flaw in his game, it is ball protection. It rarely hurts them, but it bit them hard on Sunday.

  6. As much as I praised Bill O’Brien’s playcalling last week, this week was predictable again. Running the ball on first down every single time? I get that you need to run the football, but it clearly was not working.

  7. Jadeveon Clowney once again was a disruptive force. His stats look pedestrian, but he was all over the field.

  8. Stephen Anderson, a week after his best game as a pro, was terrible against the 49ers, with two drops and a bad holding call.

  9. Brian Cushing returned and looked good. You just wonder how much juice was flowing through his veins.

  10. I know injuries have been a factor, but the Texans continue to have some of the worst special teams play in football. Ka’imi Fairbarn missed his third extra point of the season and yet another field goal. A guy off the practice squad muffed another punt. Coverage was lacking as well. This has been a problem since the franchise was founded. DeAndrew White does not belong in the NFL. Why is Will Fuller not returning punts?

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The Marlins are showing interest in Yuli Gurriel. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

As the reporting date for pitchers and catchers draws near, there are still some decisions hanging over the Astros. One of them is whether or not to bring back Yuli Gurriel. “La Piña,” as he's affectionately called, is 38 years old. He turns 39 in June. His leadership and instincts cannot be matched. The man has seen a ton of baseball and comes from a family of baseballers. So, what's the holdup?

Enter the Miami Marlins. The ownership group, led by Bruce Sherman, is undoubtedly trying to capitalize on the heavy Cuban population in the Miami area. Bringing in the Cuban Babe Ruth is a great way to attempt to get more fan engagement. The franchise has only been to the playoffs three times. First two times (1997 and 2003), they won it all. In 2020, they were swept in the NLDS. They're most likely offering him a ridiculous amount of money to come to a team with a losing history. Knowing the Marlins are willing to hand out stupid money, would you blame La Piña for taking one last ridiculous payday?

Think about it. He's got two rings and made a ton of money. He can safely retire very comfortably. The lure to come back for another year or two would definitely be about money. The Marlins aren't a real threat in the next couple of seasons to do anything, but are willing to pay me like I'm still a star? Plus, I'm closer to my home country with all my family and friends? Sign me up!

This is where the Astros have to make a decision. Bring Yuli back for another year or move on. If he follows through with his last four years, this should be a bounce back year. Since 2016, his first year in Houston and MLB, he's hit .262, .299, .291, .298, .232 (pandemic shortened season), .319, and .242 last season. The man is a professional hitter. He knows how to work an at-bat and can drive pitchers nuts. His defense isn't bad either. He's a more than capable first baseman.

This won't win me any favor, but I think it's time to move on. Yuli will always have a place in my heart because he was a major factor in the Astros' two World Series wins. Last season's title run was even more satisfying since it helped silence the haters. That was the mouthwash that got rid of the stench of the sign stealing scandal. Piña was there through it all.

Now, it's time to start transitioning towards the future. Piña, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr were the only holdovers from the 2017 team. Verlander was one of the guys the Mets backed the Brinks truck up for this offseason. Altuve (32), Bregman (28), and McCullers (29) should be all that's left of that group. While it would've been great to have Verlander (39) back, the emergence of the youth movement in the pitching staff made his loss somewhat expendable. At some point, the nostalgia wears off. Father Time and Mother Nature are both undefeated. If they were to bring Piña back, he should be a part timer transitioning into a hitting coach. Careers come to an end. It's time to start looking at his exit.

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