The Friday Stoots NFL 6-pack: On the Rams, Gruden, Texans and more

Andrew Luck is not impressing so far. Jonathan Ferrey

It's Friday and I'm thirsty for some NFL thoughts and a Texans win. 

1. Who is the next Sean McVay? That's what every team who is firing their coach will be asking in a few months. He is an offensive genius. Let's not overlook the talent he is working with, and there's plenty, but the way he is using them is awesome. They're scoring points almost at will and doing it a ton of different ways from different formations. It isn't different formations just for the sake of showing different things. The Rams actually accomplish things from these different looks. The pass-catching talent compliments itself perfectly and good luck stopping them if they ever get consistently good tight end play. McVay is a breath of fresh air as a head coach at a position that is full of old stodgy arrogant traditionalists. 

2. The Buccaneers and Bears game is an interesting matchup. Both teams have outperformed early expectations and have done it the opposite way many would have expected. The addition of Khalil Mack has covered up some of the very ugly elements of Mitchell Trubisky's game. The top quarterback taken in 2017 has been far from the best from his class and though there are flashes he's miles behind Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. The Buccaneers took one on the chin Monday but Ryan Fitzpatrick showed there is a little magic left in his beard. He has to hold off Jameis Winston from this moment on, and the pressure of Winston's return is real now. The defense could do him a favor and slow down the Bears because scoring on Mack and company will be difficult and might cost Fitzpatrick his job. 

3. The shine is off Jon Gruden and if Baker Mayfield and the Browns head to Oakland and had the Raiders their fourth straight loss it could get ugly in Oakland. Gruden isn't going anywhere but there could be wholesale changes in store and a long rebuild around Derek Carr or without Derek Carr if this season gets nasty. If Gruden and Carr don't show the ability to work together soon it could be curtains for Carr. This would be a good opportunity, one would think, to get their first win. Surely even an Oakland defense, which mysteriously can't rush the passer, can slow down a rookie Mayfield enough to win a game. Right? If not, Gruden will go from high expectations to a high degree of difficulty in making his re-debut in Oakland matter in year one. 

4. On the road in Indianapolis the Texans find themselves staring down another winnable game where they should get their first win. Bill O'Brien isn't in danger of losing his job. At all. He will have to start making significant changes he may not like if this trend continues. Coaches who he has known for long periods of time might be shown the door. Players he's fought for and stood up for might start making business decisions for themselves and not for the team. If the Texans can't defeat Andrew Luck and his dying arm it's hard to see any games you feel good about them winning on the schedule. 

5. KeKe Coutee should make his debut this weekend. The fourth-round pick will need to be a key part of the team as the only true slot presence. This isn't the best situation to make his debut, as there isn't another true slot wideout on the team, but now or never. I prefer to see rookies, especially ones who have a narrow specialty like slot wide receiver, get thrown into the fire. He was a dynamic player at Texas Tech but don't expect eye-popping numbers early. Sure he has practiced well but he still hasn't had true NFL physicality to deal with. That being said, he's the first real slot investment the Texans have made in O'Brien's time and one of the greatest slot players ever, Wes Welker, is on the staff. Hopefully, some quick passing gets Coutee involved and comfortable early. 

6. Andrew Luck's arm is either shot or the Colts are scared to test it. He has some of the least impressive passing stats of his career this season. Yes, they've faced two top ten defenses but even the actual plays he's trying to make stink. He has the lowest amount of air yards in his throws this year. That means his passes travel the least amount on average to his wideouts. Only the injured Marcus Mariota has attempted a lower average of air yards. Luck isn't right, but he's smart. He will make the right decision even if it isn't the most gifted thrower. This is actually a bad matchup for a Texans team which struggles with the quick passing game. An early lead will be imperative in trying to get Luck into big drop back situations and big throws. 

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Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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