TOP CANDIDATES FOR TEXANS

Let's examine the Texans candidates for head coach and GM

Here's who they have met with so far. Photo by Getty Images.

The Houston Texans search committee to find candidates for their vacant general manager and coaching positions has landed on some interesting candidates.

Jim Caldwell (Head Coach candidate)

Texans fans will be quick to reject the idea of Jim Caldwell as the next head coach because his recent head coaching tenure ended with thuds. He fails the “What have you done lately?" test. Fans would not be wrong in Caldwell's case.

I understand what Texans owner Cal McNair is thinking. Jim Caldwell has coached some of the more talent quarterbacks the NFL has seen in recent years. But despite star quarterbacks, Caldwell didn't have much success on the bottom line. He was head coach for the Detroit Lions from 2014 to 2017, reaching the playoffs twice but ultimately fell short of bringing that franchise a Super Bowl trophy with Matthew Stafford in prime years. After two years out of the league, he signed on as Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach, where, some suspect the Dolphins were in a must lose situation to be in position to draft Tua Tagovailoa.

It would be wrong to say there is not a place for Caldwell in the Texans organization. He would be an upgrade to replace offensive coordinator Tim Kelly when this season mercifully ends. Caldwell had success during his helm as Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach under Tony Dungy when Peyton Manning flourished from 2002-2008. In 2009 the Colts made him the head coach, where he wore out his welcome with a 2-14 record in 2011 and was fired. Caldwell moved on to take the role as Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach where he won a Super Bowl ring in 2012 with Joe Flacco under center.

Jim Caldwell as a quarterback coach? If you are Cal McNair, it is something to think about. But Caldwell wasn't interviewing for the quarterbacks coach position. He wants the top job.

There is no doubt Caldwell's interview was urged by Dungy who Cal McNair is using for advice in the coaching search. Caldwell's days coaching under Dungy extend even before their Colts connection, when Caldwell was Dungy's quarterback coach in Tampa Bay in 2001. With Brad Johnson as quarterback, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2003.

Jim Caldwell, the quarterback coach, has found success all over the league. He is yet to prove his value as a head coach in the NFL.

Marvin Lewis (Head Coach candidate)

Marvin Lewis interviewed for the Texans head coaching vacancy earlier in this week. Contrary to Caldwell, Lewis has been known for his expertise on the defensive side of the ball. He has coached some of the most dangerous defensive fronts in the NFL, most notably the 2000 Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens led by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis. He was the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals from 2003 to 2018, and the Texans dealt him wild-card losses in 2011 and 2012. He currently serves as the co-defensive coordinator at Arizona State.

The Texans could use Lewis' defensive mind to help rebuild a defense that is in shambles. Maybe we see Lewis as a defensive assistant before handing him the head coach job so fast. I'm not head-over-boots about any coach Bill O'Brien was able to beat so frequently.

Matt Bazirgan (General Manager candidate)

Texans' director of player personnel Matt Bazirgan was interviewed for the general manager role. The only reason Cal McNair might look to hire a general manager internally is so he has an excuse to keep current vice president of football operations (or “pastor") Jack Easterby, who has received a torrent of blame for the downfall of the Texans this season.

If the Texans are searching for long-term success, they will steer clear of searching within the current regime.

Louis Riddick (General Manager candidate)

Louis Riddick is the current analyst for ESPN, and is a favorite for every general manager opening around the league. Does Riddick have what it takes to rescue the Texans sinking ship?

Riddick has a fair share of experience with NFL personnel. He was the director of pro personnel for the Washington Redskins from 2005-2007, and was also the director of pro personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2010-2013. He did not have the strongest personnel with either organization, but at least Riddick is a candidate with experience, and his rich knowledge for the game is heard every Monday night. It's safe to say Riddick is the best candidate for the Texans general manager job out of the bunch that have interviewed.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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