Every-Thing Sports

How I survived football's offseason

New England Patriots website

It's been six long months since we had a meaningful football game. In that same time, there's still plenty of football activity. There's the Scouting Combine, the NFL Draft, NFL free agency, plus Spring practice and games for NCAA teams. These activities are spread out over the course of about three to four of those six months. Mix in minicamps and OTA's (organized team activities for the football acronym-impaired) and there are more doses of that drug we call football. But is it enough to satisfy your cravings? Nine times out of ten, it isn't. In fact, it'll drive most fans crazy. It can make them insane to the point that they'll believe their team is a Super Bowl or CFP contender (that's college football playoff for the football acronym-impaired) when they get a bit of good news coming from an offseason activity. This gives way for prime time hot takes and list culture. You have to find other avenues of entertainment. Here are some of the things I did to survive:

Game of Thrones

The final season of Game of Thrones ran during the football dead period. While many criticized its ending, as well as each episode of the final season, I enjoyed it. It may not have ended the way many wanted or expected, but isn't that a good thing? Good forms of entertainment will suspend your disbelief. Game of Thrones' final season did just that. Sure we can be upset at how it went, but it was still captivating.

Astros

Yordan Alvarez Astros Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball's fanbase has dwindled tremendously over the last 10 to 20 plus years. Within the last few years, the Astros have become World Series champs and perennial contenders. I used to take my kids to games when they were losing 100 of them a year. Now, I've only gone to a couple since they became this good. These guys are not only good, but also fun to watch as they genuinely enjoy each other and the game itself. After the trade for Zack Greinke, I sure am glad there's an Academy a couple miles up the road. Just saying.

Netflix

Netflix official Twitter account

We've had Netflix for quite some time now, but I finally gave it a shot and have become addicted to it. There are tons of great movies, original shows, documentaries, and specials. I just started Bad Blood recently. It's a series on the mob in Canada based off true stories using real life names and situations. The fact that I have so many shows, especially documentaries, to watch and not nearly enough time is appealing to me. I'll never get to them all, but I tried my best.

Max

Jermaine Every

For the longest time I've been anti-pets. Working in the cleaning industry, I've been able to make a good living off what they do to people's homes. However, I finally gave in (I.E. got over-ruled/suckered by the other three people I share a home with). When we adopted Max, he was barely a month old. As a Chiweenie (Chihuahua and Daschund mix), he won't grow larger than about 15lbs. Despite being a blend of two yappy dogs, he's very quiet and has a chill personality. He's still a puppy so he does have moments of FRAP-ing (Frequent Random Activity Periods), but it only lasts for a short while. He's also pretty smart as he doesn't fall for the pump fake when playing fetch. This is a pic of him being a nosey neighbor, one of his favorite things to do.

The Sideline Podcast

Brandon Strange

My cohost Craig Koshkin and myself have recommitted to recording our podcast every week. We've even come up with a new format (The Sideline Six Pack) to keep us on topic, as well as deliver a better overall quality product. We usually record every Monday afternoon and Tyler Scott has it up every Tuesday. We discuss our Six Pack of topics, usually covering the current state of sports (mainly local, but some national stories as well). One topic every week is non-sports, plus you'll love our other discussions that somehow always get woven in. Generally it's food because what else two chubby dudes love more than sports? Don't forget to subscribe and give us those five star reviews!

As you can see, I've managed to keep myself pretty busy this offseason. There are a few other things I haven't mentioned. For example, I've gotten back into cooking and trying different recipes. One of my media mentors, Craig Shelton, hipped me to some seasonings and sauces I need to try. The kids have also found things they've wanted me to cook, as well as some classics I haven't cooked in a while. Now that football season is once again upon us, I'll start writing my Texans, Saints, and NFL recaps during the season. Be on the lookout for those as well. Whenever that first day of training camp comes and preseason games start to replay on NFL Network, I get that tingling feeling. I imagine it's similar to that feeling we've all had when we opened that gift we always wanted and finally got. Or it could be that feeling of the junkie getting that fix again after being sober too long. Either way, I'm glad football is back.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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