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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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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