Every-Thing Sports

Adding speed was a priority for the Texans, but there are drawbacks

Composite photo by Jack Brame

Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs proved speed kills. They hoisted the Lombardi Trophy on the back of a team built around an offense whose foundation is speed. They nicknamed their offense, or skill position players, the 'Legion of Zoom' because of said speed. No matter how big a hole they dug themselves into, that speed and explosive offense could dig them out of. The Texans saw it firsthand in their playoff loss. After being up 24-7, they ended up losing 51-31. The Chiefs repeated this feat in similar fashion against the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Going into the 4th quarter down 20-10, they rattled off 21 unanswered points to win 31-21.

The NFL is a copycat league. Suffice to say, Texans Grand Poobah Bill O'Brien decided this offseason to attempt to replicate that model. While this is different from their usual Patriots love fest, it is still an attempt to copy another team's identity instead of establishing their own. Whenever a team tries to replicate what another team has done to be successful, they often fail. The question is: do the Texans have enough speed on offense to cause mismatches and be just as explosive as the Chiefs?

Quarterback position is close

Patrick Mahomes has proven himself via winning league MVP and then Super Bowl MVP in consecutive years. He's accomplished enough to warrant the "face of the league" talk he's received. Deshaun Watson seems to be on the verge of being the Peyton Manning to Mahomes' Tom Brady. He may not have as talented of a roster, but he's enough of an enigma himself to elevate the guys around him. Watson is the kind of guy that wants it so bad, he'll play well and win in spite being held back due to his coach and GM being a buffoon.

Receivers are meh

When looking at the receiving corps around the league, the Texans' group is average at best. Too many guys with questionable injury history, or their best days seem to be behind them...or both. I saw a tweet earlier that embodies the gist of this article. It talked about the speed at receiver the Texans have and displayed their 40 times. I quoted it and said it was from their respective combines. Not to say this group isn't still explosive, but they all have their issues. This group lacks a true top dog and doesn't have anyone that sparks real fear in defenses. They have potential, but that same potential gets coaches and GMs fired. Let's not even address the tight end position. The Texans have thrown spaghetti at the wall there, whereas other teams have invested wisely.

Running backs?

Duke Johnson was underused last season. David Johnson hasn't been good since 2016. This is the combo the Texans are counting on going into next season. While I believe they can be good enough to get the job done, I'm not sure. A trade for a more stable and solid vet would make me more at ease (Leonard Fournette). However, given the talent at other positions, the running backs may only serve as the parsley flakes in the full meal presentation. Meaning they're a compliment, not a focal point.

Offensive line

Trading for and extending Laremy Tunsil came at an extremely high cost. Not to mention spending a 1st and a 2nd round pick on two other starters on the line last offseason. This line is coming together and could prove to be one of the better young lines in the league. They are athletic and can be nasty. This is the second most important position group on this side of the ball behind Watson. If they play well and up to their collective potential, I see great things happening. However, if they fail to live up to that potential, look forward to an arduous season.

There's so much hanging in the balance when it comes to this team's offensive explosion. All the what ifs can be put to bed if the main triggermen (Watson and O'Brien) are in sync. If O'Brien can tap into Watson's next level abilities, this offense can be scary. With the way things have gone the last couple years, things may be very average. I pray I'm right on the former and that the latter is a thing of the past. This offense reminds me of that awesome v6 engine with all the potential in the world. All it needs is a few add-ons and it could run the racetracks for years to come.

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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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