FALCON POINTS

O'Brien to give up play calling duties for Texans as part of his new regime. What impact will it have?

Composite photo by Brandon Strange

Texans GM and coach Bill O'Brien addressed the media for the first time since his officially being named GM. Attending the scouting combine, he did drop one important announcement - he will turn over the offensive play-calling duties to Tim Kelly.

On the surface, this is a really good idea. O'Brien's play-calling has been questionable at best. In his six years as head coach, he has never managed a top 10 offense. But will it really make a difference?

In his own words

Here is the question O'Brien was asked and how he answered it:

How will your role on gameday change with Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly calling plays this season?

"I don't think it changes it too much. I think that one of the bigger changes would be between series. I've spent a lot of time with Deshaun (Watson) and Tim, the offensive line, the running backs, the tight ends, the wide receivers on the bench there before we go out for the next series. I think I'm not going to do probably as much of that. I think I'll do more about being able to focus on the whole game, how the game is being played and things like that, but I don't think it changes it too much."

Sadly, he is probably right.

Past performances

Kelly coached for two years as a graduate assistant at Penn State before following O'Brien to Houston. He moved up to OC from Quality Control assistant.

O'Brien gave up play calling duties one other time, to George Godsey in 2015. Godsey was fired at the end of the 2016 season.

As much as we've been critical of O'Brien, he is to be commended for letting someone else call the plays. But can we really expect anything different with a coach who has followed O'Brien for almost all of his career?

And if it really doesn't change that much - O'Brien's own words - is it really a move that will work out?

The same can be said of promoting Anthony Weaver to defensive coordinator. Once before, O'Brien kicked Romeo Crennel upstairs. Mike Vrabel took over, and was miserable in his one year as DC before becoming head coach of the Titans.

So twice before, O'Brien has tried moves like this. It failed both times.

Going with rookies

That does not mean it will fail again. Kelly may improve the offense. Weaver is well-regarded and could turn out to be a good DC. The Texans are close enough, however, that you have to be concerned about two rookie play callers. The safer move (and many would argue smarter) would have been to bring in some experienced minds with a track record of success. But O'Brien prefers to promote from within. So far, it has not worked out.

But O'Brien finally has the full control he has sought all along. You could argue last season was his best yet. Still, the Texans remain the only AFC South team to fail to make an AFC Championship game during O'Brien's tenure.

How will it play out?

If it is like most of O'Brien's decisions, it will likely mean another run at the AFC South title, but expecting more remains optimistic. Still, O'Brien has a draft and free agency to get his kind of players to go with his kind of coaches.

And maybe, finally, he will have his kind of team. Maybe that will be the impetus to take them to the next level.

But no one will fault you for being skeptical.

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The Astros are a better story than the Braves. Period. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

For the past few days, we've heard and read baseball analysts predicting who'll win the World Series, our Houston Astros or the Atlanta Braves. It's usually the same tired cliche ... the Astros (or Braves) … "in six."

For the record, the World Series has been decided "in six" only four times in the past quarter-century.

First, these experts are no better than you, me or a chimp hurling feces at photos of Orbit or Chief Noc-A-Homa. Predictions on sports shows are just a time-killer before the hosts turn it over to the midday guy.

Those pre-game, former-player hosts on Fox, TBS and MLB Network couldn't be more boring and just plain silly. They're trying too hard. A-Rod is creepy, Big Papi isn't funny and Frank Thomas just sits there worrying about his hormone levels. I can't even name the host on Fox. On top of that, they were wrong on the Red Sox beating the Astros.

I remember walking into the living room where my father was watching a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. The Browns scored and my father pumped his fist, "All right!" I asked him, "Why are you rooting for the Browns? We live in New Jersey."

He said, "I always root for the team farther east." It made as much sense as anything else he ever said. Another time he was watching a political debate between candidates for mayor of New York City. One of the candidates said the word "either" and pronounced it "eye-ther." My father was put off by his uppity pronunciation and said, "That's it, I can't vote for that guy now."

I thought, how about the fact we don't live in New York City and there's zero chance you're registered to vote anywhere, anyhow?

For the record, Pittsburgh is farther east than Cleveland. My father was never a "I'll take geography for $600" guy.

Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale reportedly has bet $3.35 million on the Astros to win the World Series and stands to win $35.6 million if they do. It would be the biggest haul in the history of legal sports gambling in America.

Mattress Mack told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "I will never in my life bet against the Houston Astros. It's loyalty. And I'm loyal to the Houston Astros."

It's as good a reason as any. I will bet you $3.25 dollars that Mattress Mack can't name the Astros centerfielder.

Here's my World Series prediction, and if you've been following SportsMap you know I've been riding the Astros since spring training.

The Astros in 4. You know why the Astros will sweep? It's because they're just gonna. No analytical rhyme or reason. They're just gonna.

The Astros are a better story than the Braves. Just like it took a whole year before the Chicago Black Sox were found guilty and punished for throwing the 1919 World Series, it took years for the Astros' cheating ways of 2017 to be prosecuted. This is the Astros first venture onto baseball's grandest stage since the sign-stealing scandal went public.

The Astros are on a revenge mission to prove they can win fair and square. The team, especially the five holdovers from 2017, are seeking, not forgiveness, but vindication and respect. And they're reveling in wearing black hats.

The Astros are a curious lot. Will Dusty Baker, a toothpick-chewing, surgical glove-wearing "cool 72-year-old" be back next year? Does owner Jim Crane have the business testicles to let clutch-hitting team leader Carlos Correa sign with another team? What to do with high-priced veterans who haven't helped a lick this season?

In their own villainous way, the Astros are the glamour team in the 2021 World Series. Baseball needs a headline-grabbing Series to get back on track as the national pastime (although that door probably closed decades ago). A dismal, dull affair (credit: Jagger-Richards) with the Braves winning is the last thing baseball needs.

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