The picture will become more clear after the NFL Draft. Composite image by Jack Brame.
The NFL has gone to a 17 game schedule starting this season. This now means there will be no .500 seasons. Teams will either go 9-8, or 8-9, or 7-7-1, or 8-7-1, or 7-8-1, or worse than that. You get my drift. No need to keep explaining things. We see where this is going. Can the Texans surprise us and be more competitive than we're all thinking?
One easy answer is no. They have a roster that has been thrown together and could be missing Deshaun Watson because of trade or possible suspension. They don't have the draft picks to make an instant impact and get better faster. Plus, they didn't spend big money in free agency to get some big time players. It's easy to say they didn't improve this team enough over last year.
However, are we discounting the guys they brought in? Are we not taking into consideration the hunger for guys on one year prove it type deals? Guys like that are at a crossroads in their careers. They're at a point in which they could be out of the league, but are barely hanging on. When your back is against the wall, you can often come out swinging. I'm not saying the Texans will fight and make a playoff run, but they could be better than we're thinking.
General manager Nick Caserio has done a good job of bringing in some decent talent. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor isn't a scrub and has led a team to a playoff birth recently. Running back Mark Ingram has carried the ball for multiple playoff contenders. They're also switching to a 4-3 defense that'll play mostly a Tampa 2 style defense. Playing more zone coverage instead of man may help this talent deficient defense. Guys will be put into positions to succeed more often than they were previously and that could help immensely.
Do I believe they'll be at or above .500? No, because I can't see this team doing what's necessary to win close games or pull off comeback wins. Will they be one of the worst teams in football? Perhaps, but it's hard to tell right now. We can't discount that all the guys on this roster are still professional football players and made it to the NFL for a reason. I'm thinking this team will go somewhere between 7-10 and 4-13. They won't be a three win or less disaster like most people are thinking. They may be like this year's Rockets and be competitive for a while, then fall off. While I hope they'll flame out in order to get a higher draft pick next offseason, I don't think it'll happen. Let's hope they lose every game by one possession to remain competitive, while satisfying the need for a high draft pick.
Luka Doncic had 41 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and the Dallas Mavericks prevented the Houston Rockets from advancing to the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament with a 121-115 victory on Tuesday night.
Kyrie Irving added 22 of his 27 points in the second half for the Mavericks, who had already been eliminated. Their victory allowed the New Orleans Pelicans to win Group B in the Western Conference with a 3-1 record.
Doncic fell just short of his 59th career triple-double. That would have tied him for ninth place all-time with Larry Bird. He shot 15 of 29, 3 of 10 on 3-pointers.
“Sometimes we take him for granted, and we shouldn’t,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s about winning, but it just so happens he’s a walking triple-double.
”The Mavericks, who trailed by nine points in the third quarter, grabbed the lead for good at 99-98 with 6:25 to play on a drive by Irving. Leading 103-100 with 5:25 left, they went on an 8-2 run that included three free throws by Derrick Jones Jr. when he was fouled by Dillon Brooks on a 25-footer with the shot clock about to expire.
Jabari Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer with 8 seconds left pulled the Rockets within 119-115 before Dallas closed it out.
Doncic played after sustaining a low-grade sprain of his left thumb on his non-shooting hand early in Saturday’s game. He wore a wrap on the thumb.
Doncic made a hook shot from the free throw line after recovering a loose ball near the baseline.
“I’m 2 for 2 in my career on the hooks,” Doncic said, saying the other came while playing for the Slovenian national team against Sweden.
Irving shot 2 for 11 in the first half, 1 for 5 on 3-pointers, with no free-throw attempts. He was 6 for 11 in the second half, hitting 1 of 2 behind the arc, and sank all nine free throws.
“I told the team, ‘Played well enough to win, not smart enough to win,’” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “We were extra-aggressive, especially at the end of the third quarter. Had multiple players make a few dumb fouls, put Kyrie at the line and got him going when he didn’t have a lot going. You can be aggressive, obviously, but slapping somebody on a 3-point shot on the arm is an unintelligent play. It has nothing to do with aggression.”
Alperen Sengun had a season-best 31 points for the Rockets, who had six scorers in double figures. Fred VanVleet had 10 points and 12 assists.
The Rockets have lost all six of their road games this season. They went into play leading the NBA by allowing an average of 104.4 points per game.
The Mavericks didn’t use the specially built court for either of their home tournament games, citing dissatisfaction with the quality.
Rockets: Will finish a back-to-back at Denver on Wednesday.
Mavericks: Host Memphis on Friday.