Food for thought?

Joel Blank: Texans need course in comparison shopping after O'Brien gets better deal than McCarthy

Bill O'Brien came at a steep price.

Ever since we've been old enough to make a major purchase, or smart enough to pay attention to how we grocery shop, we all are well versed in comparison shopping. It has been proven that even when we think we have found the best deal, it never hurts to shop around. You also have probably experienced at least once in your life that sick feeling when you find out that you may have paid too much.

It's with that in mind that I present to you the following comparison and ask you, if you are the Houston Texans, did you overreact and overpay to keep your head coach? It has become an unwritten rule in coaching that as you enter the final year of your contract, you -- and more specifically your agent -- are entitled to either an extension or a pink slip because being a lame duck coach has become unacceptable. Both Bill O'Brien and Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers were about to enter the final year of their respective contracts in 2018. Both coaches have a solid resume, and have achieved division championships and other accolades. The difference between the two is one coach got a four-year extension, while the other coach got an additional year to continue to prove he is worthy and deserving of a long term deal. After reading the following statistics, I will leave it up to you as to which team might have jumped the gun and given too much.

Mike McCarthy has had a pretty good run in Green Bay. In his 12-year stint with the Packers ,he has made the playoffs nine of those 12 years, been to four conference championships, won the division six times and made one Super Bowl appearance in 2010, which the Packers won by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. His best season was a 15-1 finish in 2011 and his worst season was a 6-10 campaign in 2008. Last year was a down year for both McCarthy and his team as the Packers finished 7-9, losing Aaron Rodgers to a broken collar bone that caused hm to miss nine of the final 10 games of the year after starting the schedule 4-1. McCarthy has won 63% of his games over his 12-year career as a head coach, and is (121-70-1) over that time frame.

Bill O'Brien just finished his fourth year as head coach of the Houston Texans. He is 31-33 over his career as the head coach of the red, white and blue, including three consecutive 9-7 seasons. He just completed his worst year as an NFL Head coach, finishing 4-12 after losing Rookie QB sensation Deshaun Watson to a season ending knee injury in week 8. The team lost 8 of its last 9 contests after Watson went down. O'Brien has won two division titles and one playoff game in his career as the head coach in Houston. Not a bad way to start your career as a head coach, but then again, not quite McCarthy. 

So, with all that being said, and knowing what you know as even an average football fan, which one of these two men was worthy of a five-year contract extension? Am I the only one that's finds it odd that the coach that has a better winning percentage, more career wins, more division titles, more playoff appearances, as well as four more appearances in a conference championship and one Super Bowl title is the guy who only got a 1 year extension, while the other guy received four more years with his team? Personal feelings aside, the numbers speak for themselves and the contract that O'Brien got seemed to be a textbook case of a team pressing the panic button, believing the hype, and overreacting. Maybe O'Brien should give his agent a raise, because the rumor mill was churning at the end of the season and he was supposedly first in line to succeed Bill Belichick if he retired and also the leading candidate to be the next coach of the New York Giants. We all know that agents have a way of talking to writers and getting their story out there regardless of whether it's true or not. It seems in this case as if they did nothing but back the Texans into a corner and help to secure O'Brien's new deal. Regardless of the how and why, it seems like the Texans need a crash course in comparison shopping.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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