LANCE ZIERLEIN

Take a few days off, Twitter finger guy: Your Texans takes are old and tired

Bill O'Brien's play calling is not that bad. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

With a resounding 34-17 win over the Tennessee Titans, the Houston Texans have now won eight in a row and have a commanding lead over everyone else in the division. In fact, they are the first team in NFL history to start 0-3 before landing at 8-3.

There were so many fans on Twitter feeding off on the proverbial flesh of Bill O’Brien and every offensive lineman early in the season….. and not without cause. The feeding has continued deep into the win streak but isn’t it getting a little unfocused and tiring at this point? Angry Twitter Finger guy may need to slow his roll on these popular narratives.

Bill O’Brien - Atrocious Play-Caller

Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that O’Brien is the most dynamic coordinator of an offense that I’ve ever seen, but I feel like this one gets overstated too much. To me, O’Brien’s biggest flaw as a coordinator of the offense is his approach near the redzone. O’Brien has even put blame on himself for his play-calling in that area. However, between the 20-yard lines, the Texans offense hasn’t been all that bad.

Being a good play-caller is about either picking at a defenses deficiencies, keeping the defense off-balance, or limiting your own exposure due to areas of concern with your own offense. While O’Brien has been up-and-down in all of these areas, Monday Night was not the night to come after him on Twitter and yet there was Angry Twitter Finger guy letting the hate flow.

 

The O-Line is GARBAGE

This unit had a 0% approval rate over the first 5 or 6 games of the year and rightfully so. They were ill-equipped to handle anyone’s pass rush and Bill O’Brien was doing them no favors, early on, with some of his game-planning. Then a magical thing happened. The Texans moved Julien Davenport from the right side back to his more natural left tackle spot and added the much-maligned Kendall Lamm back at right tackle.

That doesn’t sound like much, but it added an important level of consistency. Now “consistency” is a relative term, but by the standards set by last year’s unit and the one we saw early in the year, this iteration of the offensive line has been like a team of Pro-Bowlers. In all seriousness, I’m not delusional. I know this team will need new starters at no less than two and maybe three of those spots by next year. At least in a perfect world. With that said, they are fourth in the league in rushing and have done a much better job of protecting the quarterback. Is it perfect or even very good? No, but it’s good enough to lay off the Twitter Fingers and enjoy an 8-game winning streak.

 

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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