Reaction: Texans got pantsed by the Bears

Reaction: Texans got pantsed by the Bears
It was a long day for the Texans. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Texans vs the Bears matchup was supposed to be one in which Deshaun Watson showed the Bears why they should've taken him number two overall instead of Mitch Trubisky in the 2017 draft. This was supposed to be a step in the right direction, a get right game after suffering that crushing defeat to the Colts. Instead, the Texans got pantsed by the Bears in an embarrassing 36-7 loss. There was little to nothing that worked in their favor.

The offense looked disjointed. Typically, the four and five wide look with hurry-up tempo works. As of late, the Bears defense has been pretty bad. Neither of these things held true as the Bears forced two fumbles, got seven sacks, and held Watson to just 219 yards passing. If it weren't for several Watson scrambles and extending plays, this offense would've looked even worse. Tim Kelly has done a masterful job at times calling plays. For whatever reason, he was off his game against the Bears. Combine that with Watson not having weapons around him, a porous offensive line, and a Bears defense that came to play, it was bound to end in a flaming disaster.

The Texans defense was as putrid as it has ever been. The tackling was just awful and that was apparent on the Bears' first play from scrimmage as David Montgomery took it 80 yards for a touchdown. Justin Reid is not playing to the level that made him a steal in the third round of the 2018 draft. When two of your defensive backs lead the team in tackling, that's usually a sign that the front seven wasn't playing well. The defense did manage to get three sacks, but they also made Trubisky's nickname "Maserati Mitch" hold true for this game. He went 24/33 for 267 yards and three touchdowns. He started by completing his first nine pass attempts and never looked back. I get that there is a talent deficiency, but you'd think Anthony Weaver and Romeo Crennel could come up with a better gameplan against a team whose offense has been so bad this season.

One of the bright spots was running back Buddy Howell. He looked decisive and hit holes aggressively. If Duke Johnson is banged up, Howell should get the bulk of the carries moving forward. Chad Hansen had a decent game. He caught all seven targets thrown his way for 56 yards. Watson seems to have taken a liking to him.

The failure to make any meaningful adjustments shows how inept this staff is. Anyone who thinks any of these guys should be back in any form or fashion is delusional and should be placed under a mental health warrant. The only coach on this staff that may get any remote consideration on sticking around is Kelly. His chemistry with Watson after Bill O'Brien was fired has been impressive. Weaver should be fired immediately. The lack of care and negative body language of the defensive unit was very evident. If your players won't play hard for you, what good are you as a coach? That said, I still think the next head coach should be an offensive-minded guy who can get the most out of Watson. The offseason can't get here quick enough.

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The Astros have their work cut out for them. Composite Getty Image.

Through 20 games, the Houston Astros have managed just six wins and are in last place in the AL West.

Their pitching staff trails only Colorado with a 5.24 ERA and big-money new closer Josh Hader has given up the same number of earned runs in 10 games as he did in 61 last year.

Despite this, these veteran Astros, who have reached the AL Championship Series seven consecutive times, have no doubt they’ll turn things around.

“If there’s a team that can do it, it’s this team,” shortstop Jeremy Peña said.

First-year manager Joe Espada, who was hired in January to replace the retired Dusty Baker, discussed his team’s early struggles.

“It’s not ideal,” he said. “It’s not what we expected, to come out of the shoot playing this type of baseball. But you know what, this is where we’re at and we’ve got to pick it up and play better. That’s just the bottom line.”

Many of Houston’s problems have stemmed from a poor performance by a rotation that has been decimated by injuries. Ace Justin Verlander and fellow starter José Urquidy haven’t pitched this season because of injuries and lefty Framber Valdez made just two starts before landing on the injured list with a sore elbow.

Ronel Blanco, who threw a no-hitter in his season debut April 1, has pitched well and is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts this season. Cristian Javier is also off to a good start, going 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in four starts, but the team has won just two games not started by those two pitchers.

However, Espada wouldn’t blame the rotation for Houston’s current position.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster how we've played overall,” he said. “One day we get good starting pitching, some days we don’t. The middle relief has been better and sometimes it hasn’t been. So, we’ve just got to put it all together and then play more as a team. And once we start doing that, we’ll be in good shape.”

The good news for the Astros is that Verlander will make his season debut Friday night when they open a series at Washington and Valdez should return soon after him.

“Framber and Justin have been a great part of our success in the last few years,” second baseman Jose Altuve said. “So, it’s always good to have those two guys back helping the team. We trust them and I think it’s going to be good.”

Hader signed a five-year, $95 million contract this offseason to give the Astros a shutdown 7-8-9 combination at the back end of their bullpen with Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly. But the five-time All-Star is off to a bumpy start.

He allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a 6-1 loss to the Braves on Monday night and has yielded eight earned runs this season after giving up the same number in 56 1/3 innings for San Diego last year.

He was much better Wednesday when he struck out the side in the ninth before the Astros fell to Atlanta in 10 innings for their third straight loss.

Houston’s offense, led by Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, ranks third in the majors with a .268 batting average and is tied for third with 24 homers this season. But the Astros have struggled with runners in scoring position and often failed to get a big hit in close games.

While many of Houston’s hitters have thrived this season, one notable exception is first baseman José Abreu. The 37-year-old, who is in the second year of a three-year, $58.5 million contract, is hitting 0.78 with just one extra-base hit in 16 games, raising questions about why he remains in the lineup every day.

To make matters worse, his error on a routine ground ball in the eighth inning Wednesday helped the Braves tie the game before they won in extra innings.

Espada brushed off criticism of Abreu and said he knows the 2020 AL MVP can break out of his early slump.

“Because (of) history,” Espada said. “The back of his baseball card. He can do it.”

Though things haven’t gone well for the Astros so far, everyone insists there’s no panic in this team which won its second World Series in 2022.

Altuve added that he doesn’t have to say anything to his teammates during this tough time.

“I think they’ve played enough baseball to know how to control themselves and how to come back to the plan we have, which is winning games,” he said.

The clubhouse was quiet and somber Wednesday after the Astros suffered their third series sweep of the season and second at home. While not panicking about the slow start, this team, which has won at least 90 games in each of the last three seasons, is certainly not happy with its record.

“We need to do everything better,” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “I feel like we’re in a lot of games, but we just haven’t found a way to win them. And good teams find a way to win games. So we need to find a way to win games.”

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