OFF THE TOP OF MY BALD HED

Barry Warner: On the Rockets postseason failures, Jackie Robinson, Colin Kaepernick, Johnny Football to Canada and more

James Harden was awesome in Game 1, but past postseason failures will haunt him until they win it all. Kevin C. Cox

Playoffs are when legacies are made, not the regular season. James Harden may be the MVP and scoring leader, but his playoffs have been thought of as dismal. Three years ago, again in the final game at Golden State, he had 13 turnovers. No one will ever forget Game 6 here against the Spurs last year when he looked and played like he was from outer space.

CP3 has been a perennial All-Defense first teamer, has one of the best mid-range jumpers and will break your ankles dribbling. His rap? He never won with the talented Clippers, a team that choked after being up 3-1 few seasons ago.  Great player but no ring.

Coach Mike D’Antoni, with the Phoenix Suns, with back to back MVP Steve Nash, Amare Stoudmire and Shawn Marion, got beat in back-to-back years by a pair of Texas teams. The Spurs won in 2005, the following year the Suns lost to Dallas.

Another Rocket season with no bling? Anything other than a Western Conference Final is a bad year, regardless of how management wants to spin it.

We have already seen mediocre Texans teams fly a banner because they were a regular season champ.

Around the diamond

Astros: Just because the Stros lost back-to-back nationally televised extra innings games to the Rangers, do not panic.  Too many men left on base, plus paltry batting averages will change.

A-Rod reinvents himself: For both networks, A-Rod the fraud was in the booth -- the same ex-Yankee who sued everyone except the groundskeeper over his steroid use. He was banned one year for his lying.  Now he is treated like a conquering hero. It’s either the greatest comeback story in the court of public opinion, or a huge con by his PR firm.

Ohtani watch: Shohei Ohtani did not pitch Sunday, as weather in Kansas City postponed the game.  There is a chance he might start next Monday night when the Angels come here.

Jackie Robinson: April 15, 1947 was the 71st anniversary of the day when Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier at Ebbetts Field

Not only did it change baseball forever, and make it better forever, but made America better. Long before Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Dodger became a Civil Rights leader in America. Jackie Robinson became that kind of leader first, followed by fans integrating the stands

It also opened the door for the Latin players.  The sad part is so many of today’s generation of millionaire players don’t know of this great man.

I had the good fortune to twice have dinner with Jackie and his wife Rachael.  Those moments are forever treasured.

Around the NFL

Poor decisions: Now let me get this straight, Texans’ management gave Derek Newton a two-year contract extension after his serious knee injuries.  He showed his gratitude by filing a grievance for $ 500,000. But he is not as dumb as former teammate and bust Xavier Su’a filo. This genius turned down a $5-million-dollar deal at mid-season, preferring to test the market.  He signed with the Titans for the league vet minimum.

Guess he forgot to take any business courses at UCLA.

Draft dodging: If their lips are moving then they are lying.  That is the term used by coaches, GM’s and scouts regarding the draft.  With less than two weeks before the draft, there are so many rumors floating, trying to confuse other franchises, that its absurd.

If I were Cleveland, Sam Darnold from USC would solve the quarterback problem.  That would leave the Giants on the clock. It won’t be a shock for them to take Penn State’s superb running back Saquon Barkley.

Time to move on: Now that Colin Kaepernick made his stand, many feel it’s time to move on.  There are rules in every job, unless you work for yourself. After the controversial ex-Forty Niner refused to say he would not stand for the anthem, Seattle chose to sign another backup.

But there is yet another way to approach this hot topic about players rights that will not go away. Forget about the kneeling. Once again this is more about owners discriminating against players, refusing to consider them for a roster spot.

By the way, this is the same league that took millions from the Pentagon for the made-for-video-boards and television displays of patriotism.

Once again hypocrisy rears its head. Remember this is not about politics or dissent, which is part of this great nation.  It’s about money and fear. Then, again, the NFL has let druggies and many who have been mug shots return to play.

Adios, Dez: No surprise when Jerry Jones cut Dez Bryant. The controversial owner has waived Tony Romo (after he retired), Emmitt Smith and DeMarcus Ware, three franchise players.

The emotional receiver told his teammates “I will see you twice a year.”  Sorry Dez, but no team in the division has cap space, nor wants a receiver who has slowed down.

Johnny football fail: With the two-game spring league over, former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, has a month to report to the CFL where he must play two years before trying to get an NFL gig. He will be coached by well-respected June Jones

Another former Heisman winner, RG3, is now a Raven. Out of the NFL last season, he appears to be somewhat changed, no longer referring to himself in the third person.

Spare me, then show it on the field.

 Ex-con gives back:  Last Friday, my godson Damon West spoke to the UH football team about his seven years in prison. The son of retired Port Arthur News columnist Bob West has spoken to programs like Alabama, Clemson, Michigan State just to name a few.

It is a chilling, gripping story of survival in the joint against the gangs, rediscovering the Bible, and becoming a jailhouse lawyer.  His website is www.damonwest.org. I sat between a pair of assistant coaches who were taking detailed notes of his chilling road to recovery.

I saw a much different side of Cougar head coach Major Applewhite.  He is a terrible interview, soft spoken and repeating all the clichés heard over the years.  But at the end of West’s motivational talk, the former Longhorn talked with no script. He implored his team to listen, take in the knowledge like a game plan.  This time, not on a field, but as a gateway to each players’ future.

It was damn hard following Tom Herman, but what I saw really gives the team a shot at several winning seasons.

Chirp!

 

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It's all about Deshaun. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Texans moved to 3-7 following their 27-20 win over the Patriots. They are still without a permanent head coach and general manager. There lies the problem, and those problems will be settled this upcoming offseason. The new general manager and head coach will steer this franchise in the direction it needs to go in. Undoubtedly, Deshaun Watson will be at the forefront of what they do. How can he not be? You don't take a job like this with a quarterback like him and not consider him the centerpiece. What else would make one take either of those jobs? The salary cap hell the team is facing? The lack of draft picks coming off a terrible year? The faith ownership has placed in the NFL's version of Littlefinger?

Watson is the lone attraction to the flaming dumpster fire Cal McNair allowed to occur on his watch. If he's not careful, it could get worse and he'll find it hard to recover from. Watson signed an extension that'll keep him in Houston for another four years. He'll still be in his prime (barring any serious, career-threatening injury), and be eligible to hit the market as a free agent before he turns 30. So who do the Texans hire as head coach that can get the most out of Watson? Who can convince him to stay and re-sign after his extension is up?

The main cast of characters will most likely take better jobs. The Jets job is more attractive because of the cap space and draft picks. If the Falcons job opens up, so is it because of Matt Ryan and that offense. What coach/coaches would be interested in taking on this job that would be viable candidates given that the best of the best would take other jobs? Jayson Braddock and I tackled this topic not too long ago on Late Hits. Here are a few guys off the beaten path we felt were contenders:

Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator: Daboll is a guy who, according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, is openly campaigning for this job. The work he's done with Josh Allen has been remarkable. Allen has gone from a raw prospect with all the physical tools to an MVP candidate. Who wouldn't want a guy like that in Watson's ear guiding him over the foreseeable future?

Greg Roman, Ravens offensive coordinator: Roman has done wonders for Colin Kaepernick and Lamar Jackson. He helped Kaepernick reach a Super Bowl with the 49ers and turned Jackson into last season's league MVP. Given his history with athletic quarterbacks, he should be a natural fit and given full consideration.

Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator: Here's where it gets interesting. Elliott has been the OC (or co-OC) at Clemson since 2015. He has an established relationship with Watson and a proven track record as a coordinator of high-powered offenses in college. He's the type of hire that won't cost as much as some big names will, but might be able to provide the same spark.

Note that all three of these guys are offensive coaches. I fully understand that the defense is an issue and needs help desperately. I also understand that the previous two coaches were offensive guys as well. But Watson is your franchise quarterback and the most attractive piece in a pile of flaming dung that resides on Kirby. If anyone is going to take this job, it'll be because of number four. I know these aren't the sexy names most folks would want to hear, but these names are more realistic as candidates. None of them has head coaching experience. That fact cheapens their price tag and lends itself to them being long shots. A lot of this depends on the general manager hire. We'll get into that in another articel. For right now, dwell on this and let me know what you think.

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