Signs the line is about to get right and Mercilus will stay hot off the edge

Could the offensive line be settling in for Texans?

Texans Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney

A little Texans six pack for you on this Friday. The Texans play the Falcons on Sunday at NRG stadium.

Do your eyes deceive you?

Lookie there! The Texans are 8th overall in the advanced metric. The stats don't match the eye test right now though.

The Texans are still 31st in QB Sacked Percentage according to TeamRankings.com.

Not every hit or sack is created equal, and it isn't like Watson gets crushed every time someone gets to him. But, they add up. He still takes too many hits. There are positives though and there is a chance this improves.

ESPN's stats have Tytus Howard as the second-best tackle in football in the above metric. They have guard Max Scharping fourth in the same metric. Greg Mancz will not be back at right guard with his concussion. Zach Fulton will be back at right guard.

Laremy Tunsil has been extremely solid at left tackle since the first game as well.

There is hope the Texans figure this offensive line situation out. Atlanta is a full sack worse per game than last year's team and last year's team was putrid in rushing the passer. If the Texans can't keep Watson upright against Atlanta they may never keep him clean.

October encore?

Whitney Mercilus just came off his best four-game stretch of his entire career. The closest thing to what he did in September is the end of 2015 where he had five and a half sacks but certainly not as many forced fumbles and no interception.

This is what people thought Jadeveon Clowney could do on a regular basis. Mercilus is playing the right position and he has worked almost everyone he has come up against. This week Jake Matthews is the opponent for Mercilus. The son of Oilers legend Bruce Matthews has been decent this season checking in about average on the season according to Pro Football Foucs. He's allowed two sacks and 10 total hurries.

Mercilus is fifth in the NFL with five sacks. He has the most pass rushing snaps from the right side of a defense. This could be a solid opportunity to keep his hot start going.

Texans to honor McNair

The man who brought football back to Houston will be honored at halftime of Sunday's game. Robert C. McNair will see his name up in the Ring of Honor next to Andre Johnson. McNair has thankfully been remembered much better than some of the things he made headlines for in his final year or so.

McNair's actions spoke louder than his words and his actions said he loved Houston and his football team. It wasn't always easy for fans to get along with his patience as an owner, but there is no doubt the city of Houston is a much better place thanks to McNair.

Keke Coutee's chance to shine

Just three catches on seven targets for 18 yards. Not ideal for a player who was ready to breakout after a stop and start season last year. Coutee hasn't quite found his groove with Deshaun Watson and the time missed could be factoring into the issues.

With Kenny Stills recovering from some leg injuries Coutee could take over some of the workload at wideout. If he got clicking, and then Stills returned, the offense would be incredible. It will be interesting to see how the Texans account for Stills' absence. He and Coutee are different players so there has to be some small adjustment at least if Stills can't go.

New old guy on the block

He might be 38 but Mike Adams has gotten better with age. In fact, his best seasons came after the age of 33. It is hard to determine exactly what his role will be as the team's top three safeties are all healthy right now. It is never a bad idea to bring in reinforcements when the Falcons, Chiefs, and T.Y. Hilton coming up the next three weeks.

And I was all like Julioooooo haha

The above video was awesome until you realize Malcolm Butler and the Titans defense shutdown Julio Jones and ended his touchdown streak. Alas, he is still a monster scoring 12 touchdowns in his last 13 games and totaling up 1,182 yards.

I have no idea how the Texans plan to slow down Julio Jones. He might be too fast for Johnathan Joseph and he might be too experienced for Lonnie Johnson. Not to mention, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley are dangerous as well. Oh, and Austin Hooper can crush from the tight end spot.

This will be one of the toughest games all season for the secondary. If Romeo Crennel can't scheme something up the Texans could find themselves needing to win a shootout on Sunday.

Oh and if you don't get the reference in the title click here.

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Will the Astros ever give Joey Loperfido a chance to fix the black hole at first base? Composite Getty Image.

So how long do you suppose the Astros will cling to the ludicrous notion that Jose Abreu will return to being a sustainably decent hitter (much less a good hitter)? The All-Star break? The trade deadline July 30? The day the Astros are eliminated from the playoff race? End of the season? End of his contract at the end of next season? Maybe they sign him to a two-year extension?

Since rejoining the team Abreu has played in 13 games, starting 12 of them. He has seven hits in 42 at bats for a .167 batting average. That’s only not horrible in comparison to the sub-pathetic .099 mark Abreu had when hiatus time arrived. Since returning, Abreu has walked once. If you remember or are familiar with Susan Powter you know what comes next. STOP THE INSANITY!

Kyle Tucker’s absence obviously punches a big hole in the Astros’ lineup. Still, that regularly running out Jeremy Pena in the cleanup or fifth spot in the lineup doesn’t seem completely ridiculous, is ridiculous! Pena has been abysmal for the last month. May 11 he put up his fourth consecutive multi-hit game. In 29 games since, Pena has added one more homer with an anemic on-base percentage of .238. Not batting average, OBP. Yuck. All teams solicit All-Star votes for non-worthy guys. Pena plays in the same league as Gunnar Henderson, Bobby Witt Jr., Corey Seager, and Anthony Volpe. Hyping Pena for the All-Star game is plain ol’ silly.

Jon Singleton ever slotting in the lineup fourth or fifth, sigh. He of one homer and 28 strikeouts in his last 79 at bats. It’s just a sad state of affairs that no one below Pena or Singleton in the lineup should obviously be higher in the lineup. Mauricio Dubon, Victor Caratini, Trey Cabbage are all bottom third of the lineup if in the lineup type guys. Chas McCormick seemingly losing almost all of his hitting ability has hurt. Yainer Diaz stinking for much more of the season to date than he’s been good has hurt.

The refusal to try Joey Loperfido at first base is somewhere from perplexing to stupid. Look, Loperfido is not an elite prospect. His poor contact skills may doom him from becoming a quality regular. But find out! He struck out a bunch in his first taste but also hit .333. The low upside of the Abreu-Singleton combo is obvious. Evidently to just about all but Astros’ decision makers. Going with Trey Cabbage over Loperfido in the outfield also underwhelms.

Chasing down the Mariners?

It could all still turn for the better, but the Astros are at increasing risk of fading to oblivion behind Seattle in the American League West race. They deserve to be 31-38. They have a losing record at home, they have a losing record on the road. They have a losing record in day games, they have a losing record in night games. They are 7-14 in games against left-handed starting pitchers, they are 24-24 (hey, .500, yippee!) vs. right-handed starters. It would take a serious collapse to fall entirely out of the Wild Card race before the trade deadline, but the Astros are flirting with danger there too. They have to leapfrog several teams to get to the third Wild Card position, currently held by the Minnesota Twins. This doesn’t seem to be a good weekend to gain ground on them. Not that A.J. Hinch’s Detroit Tigers visiting Minute Maid Park this weekend are anything special, though in Friday night’s series opener the Astros face the arguably best starting pitcher in the big leagues this season (Tarik Skubal). But the Twins have four games at home against the lowly Oakland A’s.

If Minnesota is not to overtake Kansas City and Cleveland to win the AL Central, you know Carlos Correa would love to make the playoffs at his ex-team’s expense. Wednesday Correa banged out the first five-hit game of his career. It’s pretty amazing that Jose Altuve has never had a five-hit game given how great a hitter he’s been and the relatively few walks he’s drawn. Sunday in Anaheim, Altuve racked up his 39th four-hit game. Remember, last September, Altuve hit five home runs over seven innings that overlapped two games against the Texas Rangers.

George Springer is the lone Astro ever to rack up six hits in a game, doing so at Oakland in 2018. So far this month, Springer is six for 40. Springer has two seasons left after this one on the six-year 150 million dollar contract he signed with Toronto. At 34 years old he is playing as if washed up. 2023 was the worst season of Springer’s career and he has fallen off a cliff from there thus far in 2024. Springer is batting .198 with his OPS at a sickly .582.

There is only one player in the modern era (1900 forward) of Major League Baseball to amass seven hits in a nine-inning game. In 1975 Rennie Stennett went seven for seven at Wrigley Field in a Pittsburgh Pirates 22-0 obliteration of the Chicago Cubs. The “Bleacher Bums” must have had fun that day.

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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