CODY STOOTS: 3 headlines, 2 questions, 1 bet

Return man and returning man stand out for Texans

With Lamar Miller running well, will it impact what happens to D'Onta Foreman? Tim Warner/Getty images

The Texans continue to add to the longest win streak in the NFL and have a chance to be the first AFC team to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday. Here are three headlines, two questions, and one bet about the Texans. 

"I think about today"

Bill O'Brien might be dodging the question and the thoughts about the Texans clinching the AFC South on Sunday, but we don't have to do the same. The Texans need some help to do it Sunday, the Titans would have to fall to the Jaguars on Thursday, but they might have the chance to celebrate at home. 

As with not taking the cheese and drinking the Kool-Aid last week, O'Brien was cautious this week when discussing anything more than the Colts on Sunday. 

"You really have to get some things corrected and you have to quickly turn the page to the next opponent," he said. "That’s the key. Whatever plays that you had yesterday that carry over to what this game might be, you have to learn from that and then you have to really turn your focus to Indianapolis."

The mentality of the Texans has been spot on during the majority of this win streak. Credit the players for believing in O'Brien and the message and credit the message for not changing. Tyrann Mathieu talked about how they looked at themselves after starting with three straight losses. The players deserve the credit and O'Brien will quickly tell you that. He deserves credit too though. The offense has been good enough to great during the stretch and they've handled various elements of adversity well. It's gone from a potential disaster to history-making in short order. 

First interception since return for Hal

Andre Hal hauled in a Baker Mayfield mistake for his first interception since his return to football after beating cancer. He made his season debut against the Jaguars earlier in the season but was sidelined with an injury until after the bye. He is significant depth and experience for a safety unit that already had some serious success under their belts. He also provides experience on special teams as well, O'Brien praised the work he has done on that side of the football. 

Hal wanted to make something very clear: he can get better. He is still working into the form he believes he can play at in 2018. He mentioned he missed training camp so he is still catching up but he wants to continue to make an impact on this team. He is a fantastic story for this season and it is scary to think what the defense could be should he continue to improve. Romeo Crennel has to relish having three safeties he can trust and interchange in Hal, Tyrann Mathieu, and Justin Reid. 

"The ball's been on the ground"

"He’s got to stop doing that because he has been a good addition to our team," O'Brien said about return specialist DeAndre Carter. "He’s given us some good plays in the couple of games that he’s been here."

The fumbles have been the one spot that wasn't bright for Carter in his short time as the Texans return man. He's had a couple of fumbles that luckily ended up back in the hands of the Texans and not in the grasp of opponents but outside of that all positive. He's much more dynamic than Tyler Ervin. He is averaging more yards per punt return and more yards per kick return than Ervin. His longest punt and kick returns of the season are both longer than Ervin's. In three games he has almost matched Ervin's total yardage output for the season. Ervin played in nine games. 

For a team that typically plays close games, Carter will be an important piece. He can't make poor decisions and leave the Texans with a huge field to cover and he can't keep fumbling the ball. What he can do though is provide a new and dangerous element the special teams previously lacked. 

Will Foreman play again this season?

This week the Texans need to decide to put D'Onta Foreman on the active roster or injured reserve. 

"We’re talking about that," said O'Brien. "I don’t know that that decision has been made. In fact, it hasn’t, but it’s definitely in the conversation."

He's been non-committal about Foreman's potential return. Last week the Texans running back said he was just waiting for the word he was ready to go. This is a much longer recovery time than typical for NFL players at the running back position. According to a study, Foreman should've been back roughly 340 days after surgery which has been discussed for almost a month now on SportsMap. That date would have been the Sunday after the Dolphins game. 

He is behind in some capacity, and, it's worth nothing performance after this type of injury was worse than before the injury for running backs. There has to be serious discussion to this being a lost season for him or he would be on the roster already. It wouldn't be shocking to see him hit IR this week. 

Will the Colts offensive line pull a Browns?

The Texans hit Baker Mayfield once. That's it. Now, there was pressure, and Mayfield made some bad plays because of it. The Browns no sacks allowed streak continued though and it is worth noting their streak supplanted the Colts streak. The Colts struggled early to keep Andrew Luck clean but he's been nearly untouched since the Colts got on track. They had a five-game stretch where they allowed zero sacks on their franchise quarterback. 

Sunday though, the Jaguars got to them. The Colts allowed three Jacksonville sacks and have allowed four in two games after the clean streak. The Texans will likely have to bring some heat on Luck. He stood in the pocket and picked them apart earlier this year in Indianapolis and that can't happen again. I would guess there is more than the Browns game as far as results of the pressure but they may not match the Jaguars total. It will be the key matchup of the game Sunday. 

I bet Andrew Luck lost comeback player of the year to J.J. Watt on Sunday. Both are coming off a lost season due to injury and both are back to their former glory. Luck is slinging the rock with the best of them and Watt is keeping pace in the pass rush race. Luck just put up a donut though. Quarterbacks have an inherent advantage in most awards so a big fat zero in the middle of Luck's resume should tip the scales to Watt.

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Often times, sports can be a copycat forum. Whether it's trying to replicate an offense, defense, philosophy, or outright style biting, we rarely see anything original. Sports sometimes take their cues from Hollywood. How many remakes of old movies and ideas have we seen? Or, how many different iterations of a successful movie franchise will we continue to get shoved down our throats? (I'm looking at you Fast And Furious. But I'm going to see the new one anyway.)

Every so often, we'll get the pleasure of a trailblazer. Someone who stands out against the crowd and prefers to do something so out of the box, we may choose to fully embrace the different approach, or, we may choose to mock the out of the box ideas. The Texans have chosen to blaze their own trail and go with a general manager by committee for the upcoming season. They came to this conclusion (forced into it) after a failed attempt to woo Nick Caserio away from the Patriots amidst tampering charges. Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Chris Olsen, and Jamey Rootes will all play a part in fulfilling the role of GM. I go back and forth as to whether they've made the right decision and whether or not it'll work. Let's take a look at a few reasons to support both sides of the argument:

Will Work: Three or four heads better than one

Texans Chairman and CEO D. Cal McNair

houstontexans.com

Think back to when you were in school. I know that may be difficult for some of us that are long removed from those days. What was one of your favorite type of assignments? Typically, group assignments were fun because you got to collaborate with others on a project. It worked best if you chose your own group because you knew everyone would pull their weight. This may be the case here, as long as there are clear cut lines in which each person will operate and how tough decisions will be made.

Won't Work: Too many sheriffs, not enough cops

Texans EVP of Team Development Jack Easterby

houstontexans.com

Those same group projects have also been known to cause division, friction, and make getting a good grade nearly impossible. All of the guys on this committee have primary responsibilities. Now they have to take on extra duties. This can lead to some lacking in areas of each of their jobs. We've all experienced a collaborative effort gone wrong. Whether someone didn't pull their weight, or someone was a control freak, there's always a chance of something going awry when multiple people have to come together for a common goal, especially when you're dealing with a bunch of alpha males used to being the in charge of their own lane but forced to cooperate and collaborate with others.

Will Work: Everyone's seats are hot

Texans President Jamey Rootes

houstontexans.com

I grew up respecting the knowledge older people could pass along. I may not have always listened to what they said, but I most definitely absorbed those lessons. One saying I remember and still hold onto is "pressure can make a diamond or crack a pipe." The former is why I think this setup will work. When former GM Brian Gaine was fired late into this offseason, it put everyone on notice that their jobs are also on the line. If this group can feel that heat and use it to fuel them positively, this GM by committee thing can work.

Won't Work: No blueprint or copycat source

Texans Senior VP of Football Operations Chris Olsen

houstontexans.com

Like I said previously, sports are a copycat forum. Usually, there's someone somewhere that's done it before that you can get a few pointers from. Hell, the Texans organization has been trying to replicate what the Patriots have done for almost their whole existence! However, there hasn't been an example that I can think of in which any sports franchise has had a committee of people fill the role of GM instead of a single person. When you have an example to follow, it's similar to having directions on assembling a toy you've bought for your kid. Next time you try putting something together, do it without the instructions and see how easy/difficult it could be.

While the draft and the bulk of free agency has come and gone, there's always work a GM is doing that will help his team. There are always players on other teams to watch in case they're cut. There's also college players to keep an eye on for the upcoming draft, as well as a multitude of other duties an NFL GM has on a daily basis. Information funneled through one person and sent out to others is much more concise than being funneled through several and sent out to many.

Signals can get crossed. Critical steps or info can get missed and/or overlooked. However, we don't know if this will or won't work because we have nothing to base it off of. We will have to wait and see how this plays out. Who knows? We may be on the verge of something new and innovative in sports. We could also be seeing a disaster the likes of which we've never seen. Let's wait and see what happens before we pass judgement.

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