Every-Thing Sports

How signing Earl Thomas could help turn the Texans around

How signing Earl Thomas could help turn the Texans around
The Texans are likely to roll the dice on Earl Thomas. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

With the Texans off to an 0-3 start, people are wondering can they turn it around? Will they be able to turn it around enough to make the playoffs? Or will they continue to falter? Will they fail hard enough to get Bill O'Brien fired? Well, help may be on the way.

Sarah Barshop of ESPN broke news that the Texans are bringing in safety Earl Thomas for a workout and are a likely destination for him to sign. With AJ Moore going on injury reserve with a designation to return in three weeks and free agent signing Eric Murray looking like yet another bad move, Thomas would be a welcomed addition to the defensive backfield. Not only would he provide much needed depth, but he's a grizzled vet who'd help the younger guys learn the game. He may not be the athlete he once was, but he'd be a playmaker for a team who severely lacks one in the defensive backfield.

This team is in a serious hole. At 0-3, they're most likely not going to make the playoffs. If they do make the playoffs, it'll only be because the league added an extra team in each conference. Currently, they're eight places back of the final playoff spot in the AFC. It's early in the season. There are 13 games left and anything can happen. Can it turn around? Could Thomas be the impetus for change?

When you're at the bottom of the barrel, there's no way to look but up. They've gone through the toughest part of their schedule. Their first two games were the toughest to start a season since 1968. This doesn't excuse what O'Brien has done as a general manager. He's been a bad general manager so far and it's painfully obvious.

The Texans have given up almost 600 yards rushing and almost the same amount passing. Adding Thomas would help plug your piss poor defense immediately. Adding someone like Thomas can work wonders for your defense and help fill a void you're sorely lacking. Adding a playmaker to your defense means less time spent on the field, if it works out, which means more time for your offense. This dynamic could help spur on a boost in offensive production. The less time the defense spends on the field and more time the offense spends on it, the better they should be right?

If Thomas has his head on right, this should also help the younger guys. Mentoring younger players, especially guys at your position, is something I believe older vets should do. Having Thomas work with the Texans' younger defensive backs is a plus in this signing. What if he could get the most out of this group? Wouldn't you want to see if he could get them to play up to their capabilities?

The less time the defense spends on the field, the more the offense should spend on it. If Watson had an extra possession a game to work with, maybe the offense would average more than 20 points a game. This offense is set up to make Watson thrive by spreading the ball around. O'Brien and Tim Kelly have to do a better job of coaching Watson out of holding onto the ball so long by making quicker reads. Making quicker reads means getting rid of it quicker and not taking unnecessary risks. This is something Watson needs to limit that'll help this team on both sides of the ball.

Would Thomas help? Of course he would. Will he fit under the cap? There's plenty of cap space this season. Would he be a model citizen given his offseason? I believe so since this could be his last stop. Besides, where is this team really going? They aren't a threat to make the playoffs right now and don't own their high draft picks to help build this team's future. Swing for the fences O'Brien. You never know when you'll hit a homerun.

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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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