Falcon Points

5 things that have to happen for Bill O'Brien's bizarre offseason to pan out

Getty Images

The Texans offseason has been a mess to say the least. One website had them with two of the worst five moves of the off-season. While it is hard to argue that the DeAndre Hopkins trade was anything but an unmitigated disaster, there is a chance this all works out. It's unlikely, but let's look at the possibilities.

1) Deshaun Watson takes the next step

Watson has been brilliant at times, shaky at others. He has developed into a fine starting quarterback. But he needs to take the next step and become consistently great. He will always be handcuffed by mediocre coaching, but great players overcome that. If Watson becomes great, he can make up for a lot of issues.

2) The receivers stay healthy

This is a big if, obviously. Brandin Cooks is coming off a concussion filled season. Randall Cobb is getting old. And Will Fuller is a hamstring waiting to happen. But if all of those guys can stay healthy, or even two of them, since Kenny Stills is a nice fallback, this could be a dynamic group. Would it be better with Hopkins? Of course. But at least their are weapons, speed and the potential to be a pretty good group. I certainly would not bet on them staying healthy, especially the peanut brittle mess that is Fuller, but if they do, fans might forget about Hopkins. It's not inconceivable that Cobb plus Cooks could replace his production.

3) Turn back the clock

To 2016, when running back David Johnson was not an overpaid stiff. If the Texans can get better production out of Johnson than they did last year's reclamation project, Carlos Hyde, then the running game should be pretty solid. As with all of these, it is a big if, and no matter what he does, Johnson is overpaid. But did you think Hyde would be a 1,000-yard back?

4) The OL takes a big step

Consistency in an offensive line usually leads to success. All five starters will be back, and with Laremy Tunsil locked up longterm, the tackle positions should be set. Tytus Howard was on his way to a Pro Bowl before getting hurt, and if he takes the next step, the Texans tackles could be as good as anyone. Max Scharping should improve in year two, and Nick Martin and Zach Fulton are at least middling players. Tunsil still has room to improve, but we will have to see if it happens now that he is paid. Regardless, this group should be a strength moving forward. It should be; the Texans have invested heavily. If they have invested wisely, this should be a solid group.

5) About that defense...

The defense was awful last season, generating little pash rush and the secondary was a mess. They have pretty much brought back the same group of corners, minus Johnathan Joseph, who simply can't play anymore. The hope is Lonnie Johnson takes a step forward and becomes worthy of his second-round pick status. They shuffled in some new safeties around Justin Reid, and the hope is it is an upgrade, although that seems iffy. Still, maybe they will be better on the back end. They are solid at linebacker, although Bernardrick McKinney and Whitney Mercilus are vastly overpaid. Maybe they generate some rush and improvement from Jacob Martin, Charles Omenihu, Jonathan Greenard and Duke Ejiofor. And of course, J.J. Watt has to stay healthy.

Of all the things that need to go right, this is the biggest question mark. But maybe a new defensive coordinator makes it all happen.

The bottom line

Yes, there is a lot of wishful thinking and hoping here. But that is what you do in the off-season. Even if all these things work out, the Texans are still not as good as the Chiefs or Ravens. But it could put them at the top of the rest of the conference, for whatever that's worth. Yes, the more likely scenario is they regress, maybe eke out another division title before a playoff exit. But if everything goes right and they stay relatively healthy? Maybe O'Brien's off-season does not look so bad. I wouldn't hold my breath, but hey, we all could use a little positive thinking right now.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

After the big offensive showing to take the opener on Thursday, the Astros entered Friday's game at Globe Life Field against the Rangers just one win or Angels loss away from securing their spot in the playoffs. Here is how the game unfolded:

Final Score (10 innings): Rangers 5, Astros 4.

Record: 29-29, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Brett Martin (1-1, 1.98 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-3, 3.05 ERA).

Urquidy goes seven while allowing two

The Rangers would strike first in Friday's game, getting a two-out solo home run against Jose Urquidy in the bottom of the second to grab the early 1-0 lead. Urquidy did relatively well on the night, though he would allow another solo homer in the bottom of the fifth. Those were the only two runs he allowed, working in and out of some trouble throughout the game on his way to finishing seven innings. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 98 P.

Houston grabs their first lead late

Unlike their hot night at the plate the night prior, it took the Astros until the fifth inning to get on the board. It came after Carlos Correa hit a leadoff single, then came all the way around to score on an RBI-triple by George Springer, making it a 1-1 tie at the time.

After the Rangers went back in front 2-1 in the bottom of the inning on their second solo homer of the night, Alex Bregman would tie it up again with a solo home run of his own, making it 2-2. Houston would get their first lead of the night in the top of the eighth, with Altuve working a leadoff walk before scoring later in the inning on an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel.

Rangers get the walk-off to keep Houston waiting for playoff bid

After Urquidy, Blake Taylor would take over on the mound in the bottom of the eighth, retiring the Rangers in order for a scoreless inning to hold the one-run lead. Still 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Houston turned to their closer, Ryan Pressly. After two quick outs, he would allow a game-tying solo home run, making it 3-3 to postpone Houston's celebration at least another inning as the game headed to extras.

In the top of the tenth, Jose Altuve was placed on second as the free runner. He advanced to third on a groundout to start the inning, then scored on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it a 4-3 lead for Houston. Enoli Paredes would load the bases before Texas would tie the game on a sac fly in the bottom of the inning, keeping runners on second and third. Houston made the change to Brooks Raley to try and extend the game another inning, but instead, the Rangers would get the walk-off win, spoiling Houston's chance to clinch their playoff spot themselves with a win.

Up Next: The third game of this four-game set will get underway at 6:05 PM Central on Saturday. On the mound for Texas will be Kyle Gibson (2-6, 5.87 ERA), and, as of now, the Astros still have Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 4.24 ERA) listed as their starter.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome