MESSAGE RECEIVED

How J.J. Watt's final message to Bill O'Brien was his most powerful

In J.J. we trust. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

It's apparent now that a recent "heated exchange" between Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien and star J.J. Watt led to O'Brien's firing earlier this week.

Should fans point to Watt and think, here's another big-money, super-ego, malcontent player who got his coach fired?

Or should fans just send Watt a thank you note?

I vote for the thank you note, something tasteful, from the Hallmark store, not aisle 6 at the supermarket. People can tell.

While the O'Brien-Watt blowup may have been the final straw, O'Brien leaves behind a haystack of bonehead trades, a sourpuss disposition, poor clock management, head-scratching play calling and, the unpardonable sin of an 0-4 train wreck drained of high draft picks next season. O'Brien ransomed the future for the now, and now doesn't have any wins.

The Texans had only five draft picks this year. Only one team had fewer, the Saints, but at least they had a first-round pick.

Now we hear stories that Texans management was aware of O'Brien's temper tantrums, but did nothing as long as the Texans were winning the AFC South.

O'Brien didn't just lose the locker room, he lost the whole city. It was like sports talk radio was playing a loop of "Fire Bill O'Brien" calls. Stations were wearing out their bleep button.

The day after O'Brien's firing, Watt posted a tweet that was as subtle as a ton of bricks landing on Wile E. Coyote's head. Beep beep.

The tweet was a simple image of the sun beaming into NRG Stadium with its roof open.

Oh, so that's what the stadium looks like with its roof open? It's been a long time.

If that tweet could talk, it would sing I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash, the reggae singer who was born and lived his whole life in Houston. Nash passed away this week, the same day that Watt posted his tweet.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

I can see all obstacles in my way,

Gone are the dark clouds that had me down,

It's gonna be a bright sunny day.

Just to be sure, the dark clouds are O'Brien and the sunny day is interim coach Romeo Crennel.

It's difficult to find any mourning for O'Brien's coaching tenure with the Texans. The popular refrain in Houston and around the NFL was, "What took 'em so long?"

Fans piled on like ding dong the king is dead. To borrow from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar (maybe my favorite Cliff's Notes), fans come to bury Bill O'Brien, not to praise him. That's what 0-4, a loss to the Vikings, and no first or second draft pick next year.

Watt made no attempt to hide his glee after O'Brien joined the ranks of the unemployed.

"We have a fresh start. We had a good practice today, and we're looking forward to Jacksonville," Watt said.

"RAC (Crennel) is a great man. He has rings. He has a positive air about him. He has a jolly nature to him. You can't help but smile being around RAC. It should be fun," Watt said.

Great man, positive air, jolly, smile, fun. Hmmm, as opposed to …?

The Jaguars, 1-3, are in town Sunday. As America's dad Clark Griswold once said (sort of), "The Texans are going to have so much fun, they'll need plastic surgery to remove their smiles." Kickoff is noon.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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