The former Texans DB crushed the Texans and Fuller's absence could make perfect sense

Offense wasn't "horse----" and neither was Kareem's return

Texans Bill O'Brien
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, 1 Bet as the Texans try to regroup after one of the worst losses under Bill O'Brien.

Kareem Jackson smashes in return

Kareem Jackson put it on his former team. He just absolutely smashed them. The former cornerback turned safety had everything going on Sunday. The pivotal two plays from him were the return of the Keke Coutee fumble and the huge shot on DeAndre Hopkins on the ensuing drive.

There is a solid argument to have Kareem Jackson still in a Texans uniform. He costs more than Tashaun Gipson but has played better than the current Texans safety. It always felt like this defensive staff felt he was more cornerback than safety. He clearly has excellent safety abilities. He was all over the field making every play for the Broncos. He isn't a cornerback anymore and should have been a full-time safety a while ago. Denver has afforded him that option.

"It wasn't horses--- on offense"

Bill O'Brien was wishy-washy on if there were positives for the Texans. He at first declared there were no positives but then later gave the above statement.

I don't agree or disagree with him.

They got worked in the passing game. The Broncos knew a lot of what was coming and the Texans couldn't get open. Their success late was all about Denver allowing them not what they did really.

I will say, they ran the ball pretty well and obviously couldn't keep running the ball when they were down big like they were early. Carlos Hyde averaged 5.2 a carry. The offensive line played decent.

The first quarter is a disaster for the Texans though. They have to score more and allow less or they can't be taken seriously. Simple.

The pattern continues

Loss - Win - Win

That has been the Texans pattern this season. A stark contrast from the team who fell behind early, rattled off a ton of wins in a row, and then faltered late.

Let's pretend the pattern holds up.

That's wins over the Titans in Tennessee and the Buccaneers in Tampa. A loss to the Titans at home. That's likely enough to make the playoffs and probably be the four seed as AFC South champions. That would likely mean a visit from the Bills.

Again, pretend with me the pattern holds.

Beat the Bills and you're likely on the road to Baltimore. Again. The pattern would have the Texans defeat the Ravens and then play on the road in the AFC Championship game, where they'd lose.

What did this tell us?

Nothing. Patterns are stupid and that's not happening. They're far more likely to drop two in a row and recover with back-to-back wins to sneak into the playoffs. They'll be the trendy pick to be upset at home should they play Buffalo.

Can Tunsil's issues be solved?

Sunday Laremy Tunsil said he is being picked on by officials for his false starts. Watching back the game against Denver, Tunsil had at least two that were missed by the officials and maybe a few more questionable that could have been calls.

I dug into the numbers on Tunsil yesterday. Look, it's ok to get a penalty here or there but in bunches and sometimes in key moments for the franchise left tackle that can't happen.

There has to be something with how the offense is run or called that has Tunsil jumping. He is too good to have to jump for a slight advantage. I wonder if there is extra work to be had with Deshaun Watson to make sure something like this doesn't keep happening.

He didn't commit this level of penalties last year, so he is capable of playing clean football. It is necessary for him to do so down the stretch.

Does Will Fuller mean that much?

I am convinced Will Fuller was in a situation like Jadeveon Clowney was in a few years ago. Clowney was pretty healthy, and could have played, but the team sat him on the road in Green Bay. The following week they played the Colts in a pivotal AFC South matchup. It worked as Clowney played really well and the Texans won on their way to securing another AFC South banner.

Seems to me if the Texans needed the game yesterday Fuller would have played. I understand the idea, and support it even, but there is a conversation to be had on how much better everything looks with him on the field. It didn't feel like anyone got deep, no deep shots were really taken, and when there were chances they were well covered.

Fuller is clearly a key to opening up this offense. It makes Hopkins more effective, the rushing attack (which played well yesterday) more effective, and Watson's legs are also more dangerous when Fuller is on the field. I expect he will be back Sunday giving the Titans fits.

I bet the Titans don't see Sunday's Texans in Tennessee

The Texans got caught by the sandwich game. Coming off the Patriots game and with the Titans next up the Broncos got the Texans. Fortunately for Houston they have bounced back well after stinkers this season. The Panthers debacle was followed up with a route of the Falcons. The disappointment in Indy saw them fully control Oakland in the second half the next week. The Baltimore blowout begat a Thursday night victory against the Colts four days later.

It would stand to reason Sunday's Texans are gone for at least a week. Credit to Bill O'Brien, they pull up their bootstraps after losses, regardless of the fact those losses are far to familiar.

Speaking of things that won't last, surely Ryan Tannehill's magical season can't continue.

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Have the Astros turned a corner? Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

After finishing up with the Guardians the Astros have a rather important series for early May with the Seattle Mariners heading to town for the weekend. While it’s still too early to be an absolute must-win series for the Astros, losing the series to drop seven or nine games off the division lead would make successfully defending their American League West title that much more unlikely.

Since their own stumble out of the gate to a 6-10 record the Mariners have been racking up series wins, including one this week over the Atlanta Braves. The M’s offense is largely Mmm Mmm Bad, but their pitching is sensational. In 18 games after a 4-8 start, the Mariners gave up five runs in a game once. In the other 17 games they only gave up four runs once. Over the 18 games their starting pitchers gave up 18 earned runs total with a 1.44 earned run average. That’s absurd. Coming into the season Seattle’s starting rotation was clearly better on paper than those of the Astros and Texas Rangers, and it has crystal clearly played out as such into the second month of the schedule.

While it’s natural to focus on and fret over one’s own team's woes when they are plentiful as they have been for the Astros, a reminder that not all grass is greener elsewhere. Alex Bregman has been awful so far. So has young Mariners’ superstar Julio Rodriguez (though not Breggy Bad). A meager four extra base hits over his first 30 games were all Julio produced down at the ballyard. That the Mariners are well ahead of the Astros with J-Rod significantly underperforming is good news for Seattle.

Caratini comes through!

So it turns out the Astros are allowed to have a Puerto Rican-born catcher who can hit a little bit. Victor Caratini’s pedigree is not that of a quality offensive player, but he has swung the bat well thus far in his limited playing time and provided the most exciting moment of the Astros’ season with his two-out two-run 10th inning game winning home run Tuesday night. I grant that one could certainly say “Hey! Ronel Blanco finishing off his no-hitter has been the most exciting moment.” I opt for the suddenness of Caratini’s blow turning near defeat into instant victory for a team that has been lousy overall to this point. Frittering away a game the Astros had led 8-3 would have been another blow. Instead, to the Victor belong the spoils.

Pudge Rodriguez is the greatest native Puerto Rican catcher, but he was no longer a good hitter when with the Astros for the majority of the 2009 season. Then there’s Martin Maldonado.

Maldonado’s hitting stats with the Astros look Mike Piazza-ian compared to what Jose Abreu was doing this season. Finally, mercifully for all, Abreu is off the roster as he accepts a stint at rookie-level ball in Florida to see if he can perform baseball-CPR on his swing and career. Until or unless he proves otherwise, Abreu is washed up and at some point the Astros will have to accept it and swallow whatever is left on his contract that runs through next season. For now Abreu makes over $120,000 per game to not be on the roster. At his level of performance, that’s a better deal than paying him that money to be on the roster.

Abreu’s seven hits in 71 at bats for an .099 batting average with a .269 OPS is a humiliating stat line. In 2018 George Springer went to sleep the night of June 13 batting .293 after going hitless in his last four at bats in a 13-5 Astros’ win over Oakland. At the time no one could have ever envisioned that Springer had started a deep, deep funk which would have him endure a nightmarish six for 78 stretch at the plate (.077 batting average). Springer then hit .293 the rest of the season.

Abreu’s exile opened the door for Joey Loperfido to begin his Major League career. Very cool for Loperfido to smack a two-run single in his first game. He also struck out twice. Loperfido will amass whiffs by the bushel, he had 37 strikeouts in 101 at bats at AAA Sugar Land. Still, if he can hit .225 with some walks mixed in (he drew 16 with the Space Cowboys) and deliver some of his obvious power (13 homers in 25 games for the ex-Skeeters) that’s an upgrade over Abreu/Jon Singleton, as well as over Jake Meyers and the awful showing Chas McCormick has posted so far. Frankly, it seems unwise that the Astros only had Loperfido play seven games at first base in the minors this year. If McCormick doesn’t pick it up soon and with Meyers displaying limited offensive upside, the next guy worth a call-up is outfielder Pedro Leon. In January 2021 the Astros gave Leon four million dollars to sign out of Cuba and called him a “rapid mover to the Major Leagues.” Well…

Over his first three minor league seasons Leon flashed tools but definitely underwhelmed. He has been substantially better so far this year. He turns 26 May 28. Just maybe the Astros offense could be the cause of fewer Ls with Loperfido at first and Leon in center field.

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via YouTube: stone cold stros - YouTube with the complete audio available via Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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