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 in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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