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 loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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