FALCON POINTS

Have Houston teams sapped fans of their last glimmer of hope?

Is Justin Verlander the Astros last hope? Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Coming off what might have been the most hopeless day in the history of Houston sports last Thursday, things only went downhill from there.

The Astros, the one great hope for the city before the season, are hovering around .500. The Rockets were ousted by the Lakers and now need a new coach and maybe an all-new vision.

The Texans? Still no match for the elite of the AFC.

It is as if the city's sports teams are stuck in a Dr. Strange style time loop, where everything is the same.

The Rockets are just good enough to give people hope, but never good enough to get over the top. As long as James Harden is the best player on this team, this is the ceiling. They can tweak the pieces around him, but they will never do enough. Chris Paul's hamstring is as close as they will get. It doesn't matter who the next coach is. As long as Harden is the main guy, this will be the Rockets every year.

We also know what the Texans are. Good enough to compete for the division every year. Maybe win an occasional playoff game. But no real threat to do anything more.

The Astros have joined the circle of mediocrity as well. Their title window appears closed, and without Jeff Luhnow to re-tool the roster, there is no real hope for another title.

And that's what seems to be lost. Hope.

Rather than results, these teams are left to sell hope. Hopefully a coaching change and another roster retool makes the Rockets real contenders. Hopefully the Texans figure this out and Bill O'Brien's total power grab works. Hopefully the Astros will turn it around if Justin Verlander comes back. But with the one exception of the Astros 2017 title, nothing ever really changes. These teams aren't bad; they just aren't good enough to compete for the top prize. Whatever the Rockets do won't be enough. The Texans under O'Brien just won't be good enough. The Astros appear to have regressed and will not be good enough. It feels like we know the outcomes of the season before the games are even played.

Even the Dynamo offered some brief hope over the past few weeks with a win streak, but does anyone buy it?

How many times have you thought "this year will be different?" It isn't.

Yes, there is still time for the Astros, and the Texans have only played one game. But watching them against the Chiefs, did you not think we have seen this act before?

At least hope is something every fan has been able to hold onto when it comes to Houston teams. But with one team already eliminated, it sure feels like another year in the time loop.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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