TEXANS IN TURMOIL

John Granato: With Gaine hire, Bill O'Brien has won the battle on Kirby, but can he win the war?

Bill O'Brien got his man in Brian Gaine. Will it pay off? Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Make no mistake about it, Bill O’Brien won the battle. But has he won the war? It needs to be a long drawn out war. If it’s a quick one he’s a goner.

BOB got his guy in Brian Gaine. When Gaine left the organization a year ago the whispers were that BOB was none too happy about it. That was his guy. Well now he’s got his guy but Rick is still lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce should things not go well on Kirby next season.

The problem with that is that it’s a game that Rick has weighted toward his side. The roster is Swiss cheese. Look at all the holes on the offensive line and defensive backfield, a lack of talent at wide receiver and tight end and no depth for special teams.

My worry is that BOB is only going to get one year to fix all that with no first or second rounder. Does he deserve more? That’s arguable. He has his detractors and rightfully so.

What has he proven as a head coach? He won two division titles in a weak division and while his offense turned into the scariest in the league with Deshaun at the helm they still only managed a 3-3 record thanks to BOB’s questionable play calling in crunch time.

Can he fix all these problems in one offseason and prove that he was the right choice over Rick? That’s your task, Mr. O’Brien and it looks like Mission Impossible with all there is to do and no picks to do it with. It’s not hopeless though. There is plenty of money to spend on free agents although it’s dearth of tackle talent. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

But there is an ace in the hole for BOB. Rick left one thing  behind that could be his undoing: No. 4. No. 4 can cure all evils. No. 4 made the most mundane offense in the league over the last three years into the most dynamic. No. 4 made the worst offensive line in the league serviceable. Kendall Lamm was actually OK when No. 4 was on the field!!!! That alone should have garnered MVP consideration for Deshaun.

I, for one, am rooting for BOB. I want to see the team win. I want the playoffs to actually mean something as opposed to the playoffs we’ve had here in the past where we knew that they could only go so far with the talent they had. I want to see Deshaun vault to the top of the NFL quarterback hierarchy. I want to see JJ great again.

One thing I don’t want is Rick back in the GM seat. That’s something I’m just not interested in. I’ve seen that movie for 11 years and I know the ending. It ends badly every time. The good guys never win. The evil empire always breaks through its defenses and kills the good guys’ season. With Rick standing on the deck of the starship overlooking the fight there’s nothing but battle red blood all over the field.

I don’t know if BOB’s the answer. I loved the hire at the time. Since then, meh. I loved the offensive adjustments he made with Deshaun at qb but there really isn’t much more to hang your hat on. He knows more football than we ever will but we can see deficiencies in time management and replays. Those are things he can get better at but four years is a big enough sample size to know that it’s a problem.

There is a lot to fix but I’m betting on Bill O’Brien to win the war. Ironically Rick could lose it because of his greatest move; drafting Deshaun Watson. His greatest achievement could be his undoing. That and all the crappy draft picks he’s made.

But the clock is ticking, Bill O’Brien. You’ve won the battle but the war isn’t over.  




 

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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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