Texans GM in the spotlight with the draft approaching

Brian Gaine: All eyes on you at the NFL Draft

Houstontexans.com

Texans GM Brian Gaine is a disciple of the Bill Parcells tree of coaching and football operations. He would rather speak softly, stay out of the public eye and make decisions as necessary without much fanfare or attention. He has done that for most of his career, as the right-hand man to several general managers like Rick Smith, doing the research and dirty work behind the scenes, crunching numbers and reviewing pertinent information. In 2017 he finally got his big break and took the job as Vice President of Player Personnel for the Bills as he was to spearhead the re-build of yet another mediocre roster in Buffalo. Even in his new role, with the big title, it seemed as if he was still waiting for the keys, even though from the outside it looked like he was driving the bus and making the moves for the front office. After a relatively quiet year on the job, Bob McNair and Bill O'Brien came calling, asking him to come back to Houston to replace the guy he once worked for in Smith. Just like that Gaine was headed back to the franchise he helped build for two years, only this time he was going to be front and center, pushing the buttons, pulling the strings and making the moves that hopefully take the Texans to the next level.

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In his first year at the helm, it was pretty uneventful as he was basically doing housekeeping and cleaning up the mess that was left behind by the previous regime. Thanks to a botched move that brought in Brock Osweiler, who was thought to be the quarterback of the future that the team had desperately been searching for, and then the subsequent trade to the Browns that included a top five second round pick as bait to take on the salary and remaining contract, the cupboard was not exactly full. Gaine took a flyer on some journeyman offensive lineman and made a few tweaks here and there while doing his best to salvage a draft that didn't have any high picks and little opportunity to select a franchise changing player, let alone a starter.

Justin Reid and J.J. Watt Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

With that said he did find a diamond in the rough in thirdrd round selection Justin Reid, a first-round talent at safety that somehow slipped down the draft board and right into the Texans hands. Reid has been fantastic, starting 13 games last season and looks to only be getting better as he heads into his second year in the league. Aside from Reid, the new GM got what he paid for and paid the price for the bad moves of the past waiting for his turn to make his mark on the franchise and put his stamp on the personnel that fills out his roster for the upcoming season. That time has come and all eyes are on him starting Thursday night.

Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After a relatively uneventful free agency period for Gaine and the Texans that saw more players leave than enter the facility on Kirby, the natives are getting restless in H-town and everyone is waiting for some positive and dare I say big-time additions to this team. As the fans watched career Texan Kareem Jackson walk out the door along with former first-round pick Kevin Johnson and veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu, the secondary became a primary concern.

Deshaun Watson Deshaun Watson takes his act to New York. Tim Warner/Getty Images

That would be a priority all by itself but the below average offensive line took a step back last season from the mediocre unit that was in charge of protecting franchise QB Deshaun Watson two years ago. Gaine tried cheap fixes with journeymen and underachievers and got exactly the results you would have expected. He has brought in another batch of recycled veterans to try and fill the many holes left in those two position groups as we all have patiently watched another off-season unfold with little excitement and a lot to be desired. The next big opportunity starts Thursday night with the first round of the NFL Draft. Gaine and his staff have a tall order to fill as they try and use a full compliment of picks to start to rebuild what was lost and add quality starters and depth to a squad that desperately needs them. Let's hope after the festivities in Nashville conclude and all the picks are in, we can start to see the plan in place taking shape and the improvements and additions on the way in the form of promising young talent poised to be valuable contributors sooner rather than later. With seven total picks including four in the top 90 overall, the time is now to make your mark and the appropriate moves, Mr. Gaine.

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Houston pulls of the victory

Astros get comeback win over Diamondbacks to take the series

Jose Siri and Chas McCormick's back-to-back homers pushed the Astros over the Diamondbacks on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a disappointing loss in the middle game of this set, the Astros tried to end their streak of "playing down" to teams by getting a convincing win to take the series on Sunday. They would get the victory, but it would take an eighth-inning comeback to get the job done.

Final Score: Astros 7, Diamondbacks 6

Astros' Record: 88-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Peter Solomon (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandyn Sittinger (0-1)

Greinke roughed up as teams trade big innings

The Astros jumped out to a first-inning lead against Arizona, getting a leadoff walk and one-out single to set up Carlos Correa for a two-out three-run homer to make it 3-0. Zack Greinke retired the first seven batters he faced, but the Diamondbacks' first hit was a loud one, a solo homer by Pavin Smith to cut the lead to two runs in the top of the third.

Greinke ran into big trouble in the fourth, giving up a one-out single, walk, then three-straight RBI singles, the third bringing in two runs as Arizona went in front 5-3. He would get the final two outs, and his day would end short there as Houston moved to their bullpen in the fifth. His final line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 68 P.

Houston goes back in front with big eighth inning

Peter Solomon, recently recalled by Houston from Triple-A to grab a fresh arm for the bullpen, made his fourth appearance of 2021 when he took over for Greinke in the top of the fifth. He allowed Arizona to extend their lead to two runs, giving up a leadoff walk, a single, then later a sac fly to make it 6-4 before getting through the inning. He kept going for a 1-2-3 sixth, and in the seventh, erased a couple of walks with a double play to keep it a two-run game.

Houston had their first chance against Arizona's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh and threatened to do some damage by working three walks to load the bases but would strand all three runners. Jose Siri made it a new game in the bottom of the eighth, capitalizing on a leadoff walk that set him up for a game-tying homer, and Chas McCormick followed that to make it back-to-back homers to put the Astros back in front, 7-6.

Astros get the series victory

Despite having pitched the first two games of this series, Houston elected to bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and close things out in the top of the ninth with the one-run lead. He did not look the least bit fatigued, striking out the side in order to give the Astros the series win and move them another game closer to punching their ticket to the playoffs.

Up Next: With this short homestand over, the Astros will begin their final road trip of the regular season on Monday, with the opener of four in Los Angeles against the Angels starting at 8:38 PM Central. Framber Valdez (10-5, 3.26 ERA) is expected to get back on the mound for Houston after missing a turn due to a finger cut, while the Angels should have a start by Jaime Barria (2-3, 4.93 ERA).

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