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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Houston needs a win to advance

ALWC Game 2 Preview: Astros vs. Twins

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

It took all nine innings, but the Astros rallied late and took Game 1 by a score of 4-1 and are in the driver's seat in this best-of-three series. They'll return to Target Field, home of the Twins, on Wednesday afternoon to try and get the win and advance to the ALDS. Here's what you need to know about Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 12:08 PM Central

Where: Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota

TV: ESPN 2

Streaming: ESPN App

Pitching Matchup: Jose Urquidy+ vs. José Berríos.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching Matchup
Game 1 Astros 4, Twins 1 Target Field, Minneapolis Greinke vs. Maeda
Game 2 Wed 9/30, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis Urquidy+ vs. Berríos
Game 3* Thu 10/1, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis McCullers Jr.+ vs. Pineda+

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Houston's offense has to get going earlier

The Twins' error in the ninth inning in Game 1 was a gift for the Astros that they were able to take advantage of and score the winning runs. It's unlikely to be handed another chance like that in the postseason, so in Game 2, it's paramount that Houston creates their own opportunities at the plate.

The good news is, every batter in the lineup was able to reach base in the first game, either by hit or walk. However, they would go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine on base during the game. Because they can't expect to have two pitchers to combine for a one-run game on Wednesday, they will have to carry over the momentum from the end of Game 1 into Game 2 to build a lead their bullpen can carry.

Trust your arms to navigate through

Whether it's Jose Urquidy, who is the likely candidate, or anyone else who ends up starting Wednesday's game, the Astros have to be prepared to have a longer stretch of innings filled by their bullpen. Despite his struggles to end the regular season, Greinke did well only to allow one run to the Twins over his four innings in Game 1.

You should expect a similar outcome in Game 2, where hopefully your starter can hold the Twins at bay for as long as they can before needing to make the change to relievers. It will be interesting to see how Dusty Baker plays that situation, mostly dependent on the score at the time, as he could have someone like Cristian Javier come in for multiple innings. The only thing the Astros shouldn't do is fire too many of their bullets and put their chances in a potential Game 3 at risk.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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