JERMAINE EVERY'S OBSERVATIONS

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans win over the Titans

The Texans honored Bob McNair. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

Monday Night Football is always a bright stage to play on and the Texans showed they were up to the task beating the Titans 31-17.

The Good

-Despite taking four sacks, Deshaun Watson had a great game. He was 19/24 for 210 yards and two touchdowns passing. He also had nine carries for 70 yards and a touchdown rushing. We finally saw good Deshaun for a complete game.

-Lamar Miller came to play. He flashed his speed, and even kept his balance, on his 97-yard touchdown run. The run game has been good most of the season. Alfred Blue, A.K.A. Great Value Arian Foster, has been a steady change of pace back as well. The team totaled 282 yards rushing.

-DeAndre Carter has added spark to the return game for the Texans. His first kick return went 30 yards and his first punt return went for 25 yards. He’s provided a much needed injection of adrenaline to a severely lacking area for this team.

The Bad

-Pass interference against Justin Reid in 1st quarter was a terrible call. Reid didn’t “significantly hinder” the receiver from catching the ball as the NFL rule book states. That 33 yard penalty put the Titans in field goal range to take a 3-0 lead.

-Booger McFarland is an idiot! He said Whitney Mercilus is playing a new role. No he’s not you unprepared talking puppet! He’s playing the same role he’s played the last few years. He just hasn’t been as effective coming off his injury that shut him down last season!

-Despite the win, the defense finally forced a turnover with under a minute left in the game. I know the team did what it came to do in getting the win, but they could’ve at least forced more than one turnover.

The Ugly

-Titans tight end Jonnu Smith caught a 61-yard touchdown pass off a busted coverage to put them up 10-0. He chipped blocked on the outside, turned around, caught a five yard pass, and ran up the middle of the field almost untouched. It was Tyrann Mathieu who appeared to blow the coverage.

-Julien Davenport had his 13th penalty called on him and 10th accepted. He leads the league in both categories. I don’t doubt that he’ll eventually be a serviceable tackle one day, but his technique needs help. He is a very raw, but gifted, small school project after all.

-The Texans organization, and more importantly the city of Houston, lost a good guy in team founder and owner Bob Mc Nair. My only encounter with him was funny. He told a joke about the quarterback position when Brian Hoyer was here. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a good man. To disparage a man’s name simply because he said a few untimely things isn’t cool.

8-3 and now three games up in the division is a great place to be for the Texans. It’s time they prove themselves worthy of the record they have by making a deep playoff run. This isn’t some “win for Mr McNair” type of deal. This is more about them proving themselves to the league that they’re to be taken seriously. Until this team makes at least an AFC title game appearance, or better, I won’t be as impressed.

 

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Framber Valdez injured his ring finger on Tuesday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

That sure escalated quickly. The news on Framber Valdez went from bad to vastly worse for the Astros with the fractured ring finger on his pitching hand concerning enough that season ending surgery is on the radar. Valdez is/was no sure thing to have been a first time quality full season starting pitcher, but seemed a decent bet after his maturity-driven albeit short season breakout 2020.

37-year-old Zack Greinke is the only member of the Astros' starting rotation to have thrown even 130 innings in a big league season. Greinke showed notable slippage in 2020. A by-product of the funky short season, or Father Time making a move? If Greinke further erodes, uh oh. It's all question marks behind him.

Lance McCullers got to the big leagues in 2015. Six years later McCullers has zero seasons under his belt in which he both pitched well and stayed healthy. If he hits that exacta in 2021 it's great for the Astros of course, greater for McCullers with free agency arriving at season's end. Particularly confounding with McCullers is that over his career he's been outstanding at Minute Maid Park, and basically sucked on the road. Career earned run average at MMP: 2.51. Career ERA everywhere else: 4.99. That's absurd. It's certainly not as if MMP is some great pitchers' park.

"Crafty" is typically applied to left-handed pitchers. Jose Urquidy seems a crafty right-hander. But since missing the 2017 season recovering from Tommy John surgery Urquidy has topped 100 innings worked once. Cristian Javier has some electric stuff and showed very well as a rookie. Javier has never thrown 115 innings in a professional season.

The odds are long against McCullers, Urquidy, and Javier all pitching well and staying healthy all season. Valdez didn't come close to making it to Opening Day. The best internal candidates to replace Framber (or anyone else) are Luis Garcia and the extremely-hyped thus far dud but still just 23 years old Forrest Whitley.

Woeful Rockets

It certainly isn't paying homage to James Harden that has the Rockets on a 13 game losing streak as they mercifully take their All-Star break. They're just that bad. Watching them is like watching a helpless fly tossed into a spider web game after game. Out of the break the Rockets play at Sacramento Thursday. The Kings are no good, but the Rockets are worse. A loss there all but guarantees matching the Houston Rockets' longest ever losing streak of 15 since the following night they play at Utah. If you care about them the Rockets are painful to watch. Hapless, helpless, hopeless. Their best shot at accelerating what might be a years long path back to relevance is to keep on stinking. The Rockets have the third worst record in the NBA. The three worst teams have equal chances at getting picks one through four in the draft. It's a 14 percent shot at number one, a 52 percent shot of being in the top four. The fourth worst team has a 48 percent chance of picking in the top four. If the Rockets are not in the top four, they lose their pick to Oklahoma City as a payoff of the awful Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade.

Watt signs with Cardinals

J.J. Watt could have least acknowledged "Of course the money the Cardinals offered had plenty to do with me picking them!" Off an 8-8 season in which they faded down the stretch the Cards have an interesting squad with some serious upside, especially if Kyler Murray makes a leap in his third season at quarterback. But no way are the Cardinals presently a first tier Super Bowl contender. We don't know for certain who Watt's other "finalists" were and what they offered. Seems a lock that none of them offered 23 million dollars guaranteed or two years 31 million total. Money is another scoreboard and J.J. is a huge winner on it. No one should ever blame a player for going for every dollar he can get. But Watt can't honestly say the best shot at a Super Bowl was his top priority then sign with a team which last had a winning season in 2015 and in Kliff Kingsbury has a guy who has accomplished nothing meaningful as a Head Coach at either Texas Tech or Arizona. Doesn't mean it can't happen in the desert, but there had to be better teams interested if a ring shot was of paramount importance.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Les Miles, what a slimeball. LSU, what a slimy institution in its handling of serial sexual misconduct in its football program

2. NBA All-Star Game Sunday. In 1993 more than 22 million people watched. Last year, 6.8 million. Not sure 5 mil watch Sunday.

3. Greatest ever NFL free agent signings: Bronze-Packers, Reggie White Silver-Buccaneers, Tom Brady Gold-Saints, Drew Brees

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