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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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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