EVERY-THING SPORTS

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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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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