Cult Of Mediocrity

Patrick Creighton: Five years for O'Brien and Gaine? What were the Texans thinking?

Bill O'Brien got an extension he did not earn. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Patrick Creighton is co-host of "Nate & Creight" on SportsMap 94.1 FM Houston, a host on SB Nation Radio and PxP broadcaster for Texan Live. Follow him on Twitter at @PCreighton1

Open your eyes, what do you see?

The Houston Texans handled family business Saturday, announcing they had signed new GM Brian Gaine and extended head coach Bill O’Brien.  That part wasn’t a surprise, as the Texans were widely reported to be working on deals for both.  Their deals were for the same length, also not a surprise, and exactly what I had spoken about on Friday afternoon on Nate & Creight on Sportsmap 94.1 FM.

But five years?  Talk about handing over the keys to the Ferrari….

Bill O’Brien isn’t a bad coach.  He isn’t a great coach.  He also has never proven his ‘'quarterback guru’' label that he came to Houston with was anything other than “he coached Tom Brady.”   He is 31-33 in his 4 years in Houston, mostly on the back of a 4-12 meltdown littered with IR designations.   That being said, the three biggest takeaways from O’Brien’s season this year were, in order:

  • Chose Tom Savage over Deshaun Watson to start season.

  • Got scared late vs Patriots, took ball out of Watson’s hands, chose to punt and lost.

  • Got scared late vs Seahawks, took ball out of Watson’s hands, chose to punt and lost.

Only in Houston, where Bob McNair detests change, could such a season merit a 5 year extension, one that coincides with the deal given an unproven GM, who was hired primarily because the head coach likes him.

Maybe it’s just me, but 9-7 isn’t something to be excited about.  I would have understood a two year extension for O’Brien and a three year deal for Gaine (remember O’Brien is already under contract for 2018) would have given this tandem three years to prove their mettle and that they can be successful together.  Five years is far too long a commitment, especially to a head coach who hasn’t shown he’s truly committed to the franchise with his camp’s media leaks of how unhappy he is and always wanting changes to the organizational hierarchy or he may have to move on at the end of the last three seasons.

The past two drafts, according to sources, Rick Smith phased O’Brien out of the draft process.  Those two drafts have been the two strongest in the O’Brien tenure.  It was Smith who wanted Watson, had him rated as the top QB in the draft (O’Brien preferred Mahomes) and pulled the trigger to land the guy who is now firmly entrenched as the franchise quarterback.  O’Brien hasn’t proven so far to be a great talent evaluator.   Who knows what Gaine will be as a GM, but I wouldn’t be willing to bet five years on a guy that the organization had just allowed to walk away eight months ago.  

I’m glad McNair doesn’t want to be Jimmy Haslam and change coaches and front offices every year or two, but the length of these deals has no basis in football sense.   The five year deals are clearly a commitment to continuity, but I can’t say they are a commitment to excellence.  It’s more a commitment to mediocrity.

Three mediocre 9-7 seasons in a bad division and a 4-12 bottom out.  Five year commitment.

Ask not what the Texans can do for you……

 

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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