Falcon Points

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

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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.

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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