A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans had no answers for the Vikings

O'Brien was outcoached yet again. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans fell to 0-4 with a 31-23 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The loss can be largely pinned on Bill O'Brien. If there was an award for WTF decisions, O'Brien would be the winner by a couple country miles. He's been making them his whole tenure as Texans coach. Sure, the game came down to the final possession and was pending a review of an amazing almost catch by Will Fuller (as well as a two-point conversion if it stood), but O'Brien was the impetus behind much of went wrong.

For starters, it was revealed that O'Brien would be taking over play calling duties from offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. Citing the struggles of the offense in the first three games, O'Brien chose to open his burger-chan play calling menu (sponsored by Culture Map) and did nothing too different from what we saw in the first three games.

The offense continued to look disjointed. They would look good getting off quick throws, then would bog down trying to run or go for long developing routes. I thought the empty backfield "Run N Gun" formation was effective. It spread the Vikings' already thin defense and allowed Deshaun Watson to throw the ball to wherever he saw a mismatch. Going up-tempo keeps the opposing defense off balance. They can't sub and it makes it tougher to adjust or catch a breath. This also helped utilize the speed at receiver the Texans have. Alas, O'Brien went away from it.

Right before halftime, they had an opportunity to score a touchdown and cut the lead to seven. Instead, they had to settle for another field goal. The fourth highest paid kicker in the league kicked three field goals in all. The sad part is that the last two were from 28 and 25 yards respectively. Translation: the offense stalled in the deep inside the red zone. Who's at fault for that? The easy answer would be O'Brien. One could blame Watson for not making the proper reads or throws. Ultimately, O'Brien is the head coach and called the plays.

There are some positives. It seems as if O'Brien has gotten better with the two-minute drill. Despite not being able to punch it in at the end of the first half, he called the right plays. He even put them in position to potentially tie the game at the end of regulation. That's where execution comes into play. The up-tempo style works best on offense. Sure it may put the defense at a disadvantage when it doesn't yield long drives, but the defense isn't good anyway so give the offense all the chances you can. I also like the commitment to the run. Even though it may not produce as many yards, you have to keep the threat alive. The threat of a run game feeds play action pass, sucks the defense closer to the line of scrimmage, and opens up passing lanes.

O'Brien definitely has some work to do. At 0-4, this team has almost no shot at making the playoffs. Given that there's an extra playoff team starting this year and there's still 75% of the season left to play, there's hope. Not much hope, but it's there. It's akin to a firefly flying solo in the woods. It's lighting a path, but a very dim light on a dark path. Here's to hoping that light gets brighter.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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