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 media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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