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Jermaine Every: July and August are more exciting than you think

The Justin Verlander deal is an example of what can happen in the summer. Bob Levey/Getty Images

In early June, I wrote an article to help you guys combat your summer sports boredom. Every year in the months of July and August (more July than August), sports fans complain about nothing to watch. The week of the MLB All Star Game is widely viewed as the worst week in sports. The game itself is competitive, but the festivities surrounding it aren’t as exciting.

ESPN puts on the ESPY’s the night after the All Star Game, but some fans don’t feel as though they are must-see. It’s turned into a hokey show that leans towards being all-inclusive instead of a real representation of sports over the past year. Yes, that is a reference to the Astros losing best game to women’s hockey.

This year, there was the World Cup to help bridge the gap. However, it only takes place every four years. That and the fact that people in America won’t give high level soccer a chance makes it hard to fill the void. The Olympics come along every four years also. They hold attention better than the World Cup because of the variety of sporting events. But 2020 will be the next time they help divert our attention in the summer.

But why is it that sports fans have such a difficult time late in the summer? Is there not enough to wet your palette? Besides the sporting events I listed in June, there are other goings-on that sports fans can keep an eye on that can hold them over:

NBA offseason

The NBA offseason is oftentimes the most exciting offseason of the major pro sports. Free agency kicks off in high gear as teams and players strike deals within minutes of the opening of the signing period. Trades are more prevalent, so player movement is all over the place. Stars tend to move via either avenue so there’s more of a seismic shift in competitive balance more so than other leagues. MLB and the NFL have collective bargaining agreements that give teams more control over a players’ prime years, therefore restricting player movement. Waiting on a “Woj Bomb,” reading the tea leaves waiting on a player to decide where he’s going to sign, or speculating on trades and buyouts can occupy your time. The Trade Machine alone will have you playing GM for hours on end.

NFL offseason

NFL offseason starts in March when the new league year starts. The rookie combine takes place in February, and draft in April. However, the hype around rookies and other new team acquisitions abounds during OTAs and training camp. EVERY fan of EVERY team believes in their team's chances to win. Hope is what keeps fans going throughout the offseason. Then there are the preseason games in which guys look like Hall of Famers against inferior competition. That gives fans even more reason to feel better about their  chances. Lestar Jean anyone? This time of year puts faith in fans and teams alike around the NFL. There are only a few weeks left before those hopes come crashing back to Earth when fans realize it’s time to get ready for the draft next year.

MLB stretch run

MLB has the most exciting and active trade deadline of the major pro sports. Sure the NBA makes moves at their deadline, but MLB has superstars on the move every trade deadline. Not to mention the waiver wire trades made in August can change the landscape. Justin Verlander to Astros last year is a perfect example.  Every year there are teams that make runs towards a playoff spot. Now with the expanded wildcard spots, there are more teams that will have a shot at the postseason making the stretch run more exciting, and the trade deadline more interesting.

Take a look at things in the sports world from a different perspective. You’ll see how much fun and interesting things can be if you give them a shot. It’s not all doom and gloom during the dog days of summer. There are tons of interesting things you can get into. Besides, you could be doing worse things with your time, like arguing in a Group Me chat about frivolous topics like I did last night.

 

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Hiring DeMeco Ryans would be a good first step. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images.

The Cincinnati Bengals are heading to its second straight AFC Championship game. After making the Super Bowl in 2022, it’s hard to believe the team is just four seasons removed from being in the bottom of the NFL with a 2-14 record.

The Houston Texans find themselves in a similar position to the Bengals a few years ago. Houston is in a transition stage following the loss of quarterback Deshaun Watson, JJ Watt and the flurry of other talent that defined the Bill O’Brien-led era.

The Texans are currently near the bottom of the league, but here is why they could be not that far off when it comes to turning the corner as the Bengals did over the last few seasons.

In 2019, Cincinnati was still led by Andy Dalton at quarterback. It was the first year under head coach Zac Taylor and the team had a lot of holes to fill.

After finishing with the worst record in the league, the Bengals drafted Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. They used their second pick in that same draft to take a key playmaker in receiver Tee Higgins and used the third pick in linebacker Logan Wilson, who has started in every game he has played in for the Bengals this season.

In the 2020 season, Burrow showed flashes of being a star QB, but suffered a season-ending knee injury that once again saw Cincinnati picking toward the top of the draft. In 2021, it used the No. 5 overall pick to draft Ja'Marr Chase.

With the key pieces in place added on to other hits they made in free agency and in previous years’ drafts, such as selecting Joe Mixon in 2017 and signing former Houston defensive lineman D.J. Reader, the Bengals quickly became one of the top teams in the league, and Burrow has become the only quarterback not named Tom Brady to have a leg up on Patrick Mahomes.

While it is much easier said than done, the Texans are in position to do just as the Bengals did beginning in 2019. Houston has an abundance of draft capital, even more than Cincinnati had when it went through its rebuild, including six in the first two rounds of the draft for 2023 and 2024.

It will be on Nick Caserio to put together the best roster with those picks to put the Texans back into relevance, and it begins with the hiring of the head coach. Could DeMeco Ryans be the answer in Houston?

The Bengals were patient with Taylor after two seasons of just two and four wins. Whoever Houston hires this go around will need to have stability. Taylor has proven he was the right man for the job even after the shaky start.

The next two drafts will define what the next decade looks like for the Houston Texans. They are at a crossroads when it comes to which direction they will take. Even at its best over the last decade, Houston’s ceiling was the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs.

Choosing the right quarterback and surrounding him with elite talent on both sides of the ball will be key. No pressure Caserio.

If he plays his cards right, it just might be the Texans competing against Burrow and the Bengals or Mahomes and the Chiefs on Championship Sunday in 2025.

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