Raheel Ramzanali

NFL first quarter season awards: Raheel Style

Never change, Billy O. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

We’ve now hit the quarter mark of the season so you’ll be flooded with the generic posts about awards like the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and so many other categories. So, instead of doing stuff you can find on any old website, I thought I would give out some new awards across the NFL  for the first four games of the year:

Staying on Brand Award

Players work on things in the off-season and get better. They will add new moves or skill sets to showcase in the regular season. Some coaches will implement new plays or philosophies as they enter another season in the NFL. Bill O’Brien? Well, he’s stayed on brand with his coaching blunders entering year five and that’s pretty darn impressive. It seems like every young coach (McVay and Vrabel) in the game has talked about having somebody on staff that helps them with timeouts, challenges, etc., but not Bill. Bill is staying on brand and doesn’t care what you think about it because it’s not his job.

Runner-up: The Steelers horrible defense. We’re about two games away from Pouncey commenting on it.

I’ll Watch Your Game Award

Look, the Browns legit could be 4-0 right now. I know the "what if" game is horrible to play and you can’t assume anything in the NFL, but a decent kicker could have won games for the Browns. I’m not just saying this because of Hard Knocks, but this Browns team is hella fun to watch with Baker at QB. On Sunday I was more upset at the Texans going to overtime because it was eating into the Browns vs Raiders game. Baker has the ‘IT’ factor and I’ll enjoy it as much as I can before he is injured like every mobile QB ever in the history of the NFL.

Runner-up: Oakland Raiders. If you thought Texans football is bad, try the Raiders! It’ll give you a new appreciation for what we watch every Sunday here in Houston.

This Is For You, Roger! Award

We all have that one coworker that sucks up to the boss and does things where it’s only for his advancement and nothing else. That one worker in the NFL? The referee(s) that keep calling the horrible roughing the passer penalties against defensive players. Look, I get it, player, sorry QB, safety is important to the league, but some of these calls are just getting stupid. By the way, on Sunday after TY Hilton caught a pass and had a nice gain, he was tackled by McKinney who landed on him with his full weight. No penalty. I get it that it’s football and plays like that will happen, but the NFL sends the wrong message when defensive players aren’t allowed to do it to QBs, but they are to anybody else. I applaud you NFL Referee for staying true to the calls and making sure Roger Goodell notices how you’re protecting the league.  

Runner-up: Clay Matthews on every sack. His is more out of spite, “THIS IS FOR YOU, ROGER! SCREW YOU!”.

You Make NFL Broadcasts Fun To Watch Award

I know our editor Fred Faour mutes games when he watches them, but this is the anti-Fred Muting Games Award. Monday Night Football is the go-to when we want to hate on a broadcast crew, but Booger McFarland has been awesome so far as the field analyst on MNF. His insight and passion for the sport has been tremendous so far in the season.

Runner-Up: Tony Romo. Yes, he’s still good in his second season.  

Creepy Sports Media Award

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US WIN THIS AWARD FOR ALWAYS BRINGING UP SEAN MCVAY’S GIRLFRIEND WHEN WE TALK ABOUT HIS TEAM. STOP IT! WE HAVE TO STOP MAKING CREEPY COMMENTS WHEN WE SEE ATTRACTIVE WOMEN.

Runner-up: Raheel Ramzanali for his weird fascination with Sean McVay.

The Echo Chamber Award

Ties are never fun. In fact, the NFL might have a problem with ties this season, but you know what sucks more than a tie? A FREAKING LOSS. Coaches always say how hard it is to win in the NFL, but they always forget to say how easy it is to lose because of a bad decision. I know the media echo chamber right now is all about how ballsy and manly Frank Reich is for going for it on fourth down in OT from his own side of the field, but please let’s stop it. I know him backing his decision after the game really helped start this whole. “Frank’s right, guys!” discussion, but you have to consider the best case and worst case in every major decision. Reich’s decision was the ultimate fail because with that much time left and an offense that you’d slowed down, you could’ve avoided a loss, but instead you gave the Texans life and they ended you.

Runner-up: Aaron Rodgers week 1 performance. Yeah he played on a bum knee, but he’s still playing on it and maybe it wasn’t that crazy of an injury after all? It was an unreal performance and honestly you expect nothing less from A-Aron, but the folklore like retelling of that game is going to be so bad in a few years because people will forget that he didn’t miss any time with the knee.

Y'all Are Such Haters Award

This goes to all the people that thought Mike Vrabel was going to be a horrible head coach because he was the coordinator of a defense that had major injuries to every position group last year. The Texans were bad last year and the defense took a major stepback after Vrabel became the coordinator and in spite of all of that, teams still wanted to make him as head coach. Vrabel has now beaten two of the final four teams left from last year’s playoffs (including the champs, duh!) and his team has no quit in them. Props to him!

Runner-up: Everyone that was rooting for FitzMagic to fail so you could tell people that you knew this was a fluke the entire time. Yes, he is now back to being a journeyman QB, but the amount of people rooting against him was weird. If anything, we should all be rooting for the underdog to succeed.

 

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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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