DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU

How this major blunder could finally get Bill O'Brien fired

0-4 should mean the end for O'Brien in Houston. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If the 0-3 Houston Texans lose Sunday to the equally woeful and winless Minnesota Vikings, that should seal coach Bill O'Brien's fate. Finally. It's time, long overdue, for owner Cal McNair to tell O'Brien, "Bill, how about you drop by my office Monday morning and we have a little talk? I hope you don't mind that I've invited Glenda Morrison from HR to join us."

After three understandable, if not excusable, losses to the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, the Texans are 3.5 point favorites to topple the Vikings, who are the standard of awful in 2020.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins already has thrown six interceptions, matching his total from all of 2019. The Vikings defense is just as hapless, giving up 102 points in three games. On top of that, the Vikings missed a day of practice this week as a safety precaution related to COVID-19. The Vikings are sitting ducks for the Texans, who will be playing in front of 13,000 socially distanced, mask-wearing fans.

But even if the Texans beat the Vikes, it's time, make that past due, for Bill O'Brien to go. This pot has been simmering for years now. Sunday, things could boil over.

Texan fans have endured seven seasons of frustration with O'Brien's embarrassing one-sided trades, poor clock management, boggling play-calling, petty demeanor and, worst, humiliating defeats in post-season, including last year's ultimate disaster, losing 51-31 to the Kansas City Chiefs after leading 24-0 in the second quarter.

You know there's trouble when "Fire Bill O'Brien" has its own Facebook page. There have been 45 fan petitions to dismiss O'Brien. Over seven years, O'Brien has produced a 53-47 record and no conference titles. He's mediocre at being average.

He will be remembered for shouting F-bombs, and extending his vocabulary to MF-bombs at a heckler in the stands. It's a solid gold hit on YouTube. Ironically, O'Brien would have gone total Dice Clay on the fan, but he was escorted to time-out by DeAndre Hopkins, who eventually would be traded to Arizona in another lopsided move by O'Brien. I'll do you a favor, don't google "NFL Receiving Leaders 2020." No. 1 will only start another "Fire Bill O'Brien" petition.

Remember years ago, when O'Brien and Tom Brady went at it on the sidelines in New England? At least O'Brien targets future Hall of Famers for his meltdowns.

On talk radio, fans who've long had enough of O'Brien, moan that Texans owner Cal McNair doesn't care about winning the Super Bowl as long as the team makes money. It's true that the Texans petty cash drawer is more than the gross national product of many countries. Forbes has the Texans as the 20th most valuable sports franchise in the world, worth $3.1 billion. The Texans are tied with the Boston Celtics and San Francisco Giants in that rare air.

What's the big difference between the Celts, Giants and Texans? The Celtics and Giants' trophy cases are packed with championship trophies. The Texans, oh sure, they win the AFC South division before fizzling out in the playoffs.

Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Deshaun Watson are both 25 years old, exquisitely gifted, generational talents. Kansas City coach Andy Reid, as old school as they get, lets Mahomes soar with dizzingly creative, practically street ball play-calling. Meanwhile O'Brien clamps down on Watson, handing him a claustrophobic playbook with no surprise endings. No surprise beginnings, either. Let's start every drive with a run up the middle - second down and 10. If we know what's coming in our living rooms, don't you think the other team knows, too?

Giving Watson restraining orders is like spending $500,000 on a Ferrari and then entering it in a demolition derby. O'Brien's mopey personality ("that's on me, I've got to coach better") has worn out its welcome. Grumpy is tolerated with Bill Belichick. He has six Super Bowl wins. O'Brien once worked on Belichick's staff in New England.

Sometimes the acorn does fall far from the tree.

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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