The Texans were clearing out their locker and discussed the upcoming offseason

Offseason arrives for disappointed Texans

Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Texans discussed plenty of things as they cleared out their lockers and headed into the offseason.

Bill O'Brien not ruling out new play caller

When asked if he thought about changing the play calling duties for the offense the Texans head coach didn't explicitly state change would or wouldn't happen. He did say it would be looked at by the team.

"I think at the end of the year we evaluate everything," he said. "Obviously, we just ended yesterday. But, we'll take a look at everything. We always try to make the best decisions in the best interest of winning. Like I said after the game, I think we have a very good future here. A lot of things to fix, but like I said, we'll take a look at everything."

Plenty of people would tell O'Brien he needs to give up the play calling to someone else. It doesn't seem likely O'Brien, who passed those duties to George Godsey years ago and took them back after his firing, would again give up the headset and the play sheet.

Quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan has gotten looks as an offensive coordinator before so perhaps he would be a in-house option. Anyone outside the organization forces the team to adjust to their philosophy and has to get along with O'Brien and Watson who already seemingly have a strong bond.

Like O'Brien said, it should certainly be evaluated.

Clowney's future is here

Jadeveon Clowney is a free agent but the impending payday isn't on his mind.

"I ain't thinking about that right now," Clowney said. " Just trying to soak in us losing this game right here. That's what I've been thinking about I haven't been thinking about that."

He said he was really upset with the loss to the Colts and it hurt his perception of the season. Clowney mentioned he thought they had four games left coming into the playoffs, meaning playing in the Super Bowl, and could have done something special.

He did discuss his thoughts on next season though.

"I promise to the Texans, and whoever else is watching, I'm going to be a much better and improved player next season."

Clowney said he went to sleep and woke up thinking about how he can be "much better" player and he hasn't even thought about a contract. He said he was worrying about his craft and he's focused on what's ahead.

When he was asked about potentially being franchise tagged by the Texans and his feeling Clowney brushed it off.

"We'll talk about that when it comes," said Clowney. "I'm going to worry about getting better. If I'm here, somewhere else."

He went on to say the business side getting settled would make him very comfortable and help him take care of his family. He then said he wanted to play the rest of his career with the Texans after spending five years with the team.

Romeo's return expected

Bill O'Brien said he expects defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to return next season. He didn't elaborate, nor did he spend many words confirming the veteran coach's future.

The Texans finished 12th in total defense but 28th in pass defense. Their ability to stop rushing attacks was clear, finishing third in the league. O'Brien wasn't happy with the team's play on third down; they were ranked 20th allowing just over a 40 percent conversion rate. They were 11th in sacks with 43 sacks of opposing quarterbacks.

Crennel did help turn in the team's best takeaway statistic since they led the league in 2014. The Texans had 29 takeaways, up from 16 the year before and good for the fourth best mark in the league.

John Pagano is on the defensive staff as a senior defensive assistant and outside linebackers coach. He previously was the defensive coordinator for the Raiders in 2017 and the Chargers from 2012-2016. If Crennel's return became uncertain there's a chance Pagano could take over for the Texans.

Changes coming at cornerback?

Bill O'Brien made a comment that stood out when he was asked about having a franchise quarterback and not having to look for one anymore.

In listing elements of a successful team O'Brien mentioned "you need corners that can play man" as in man defense. The Texans use a lot of zone with the cornerbacks and the skills of their current defensive backs don't lend itself to playing man coverage.

The Texans have three picks in the first two rounds and will have plenty of money to spend in free agency as well. While people will be focused on the offensive line, the cornerbacks ended up being a weak point on this team as well. Injuries certainly played a part, but even when healthy, they underwhelmed.

Kevin Johnson said he is cleared and ready to get to work as he is under contract for next season. Kareem Jackson is a pending free agent. Aaron Colvin was a big free agent addition this season but injuries derailed him even further after his slow start to the year.

"He's a good guy. He worked hard," O'Brien said. "He was injured in the first Colts game, and I think that was a tough injury. Not to make an excuses for him, but tough one to come back from. It was an ankle injury and it just – I'm not sure that he every fully recovered from it. I don't want to speak for him, but we just felt like at the end of the day, we went with the 46 guys that we felt were the healthiest and the most ready to go."

Loaded with opportunity

The Texans have three picks in the top two rounds and are scheduled to have over $65 million in money so spend on free agency. There is a need for improvement on the offensive line and above we mentioned the cornerbacks as well. For many who want wholesale changes on the offensive line, remember this Bill O'Brien quote when free agency rolls around.

"I don't think you want to build it through free agency," said the head coach. "That's my personal belief. You want to build it through the draft so you can mold the guys. I don't think you want to bring in a bunch of free agents. These are decision that we have to make and these are decisions that we are going to be talking about daily."

O'Brien already has two free agents on his offensive line with guards Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete. He had a big free agent addition at cornerback fail him. They have plenty of players to decide on with Jadeveon Clowney and Tyrann Mathieu among others being free agents. That being said, they will have some needs they can address with the money in free agency and should use it.

Training camp roads bring them back home

The Texans will return to Houston for training camp after spending the past two camps in West Virginia practicing at The Greenbrier. Bill O'Brien didn't confirm it, saying it would be a discussion with Cal McNair, but that it was "trending that way" when it comes to late July.

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McCullers Jr. had nine strikeouts over four

McCullers Jr. looks sharp in tune-up before Rangers overpower Houston's bullpen

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite watching their chance to clinch their playoff spot on the field slip away in the walk-off loss on Friday, the Astros benefited from a loss by the Angels later in the night, securing their playoff berth. That meant they could play conservatively in the final two games of the season against the Rangers in Arlington. Here's a quick rundown of Saturday's matchup:

Final Score: Rangers 6, Astros 1.

Record: 29-30, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jimmy Herget (1-0, 3.20 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brandon Bielak (3-3, 6.75 ERA).

McCullers Jr. looks playoff-ready 

With nothing substantial to play for, the Astros did not expect to ask Lance McCullers Jr. to go deep into Saturday's game, instead giving him a few innings for a tune-up before assuming whatever role he would play in the post-season. He looked impressive, a promising sign after his injury stint and struggles on the road at points this season.

He finished four innings, during which he racked up a season-high nine strikeouts while giving up no runs on just two hits, both singles, and two walks. His final line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0 HR, 61 P.

Both teams trade runs as  they go to their bullpens

Meanwhile, neither team was getting much going at the plate in the early goings, keeping it a scoreless game through the first five. Brandon Bielak took over for McCullers Jr. starting in the fifth but would allow the first run of the night in the bottom of the sixth as the Rangers would get three singles to take a 1-0 lead.

After Kyle Gibson held the Astros at bay for six innings, Houston would get on the board against Texas' bullpen, getting a leadoff double by Aledmyz Diaz in the top of the seventh. Diaz moved to third on a sac bunt, then scored on a sac fly by Jack Mayfield, making it 1-1.

Rangers blow it open in the seventh

The tie didn't last long, as Bielak would put two on base in the bottom of the seventh before giving up a three-run homer to make it a 4-1 Rangers lead. Andre Scrubb was next out of Houston's bullpen and allowed a solo home run on his first pitch. Scrubb would complete the inning, but not before allowing another run on three singles to push Texas' lead to 6-1.

Cy Sneed was next out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth and tossed a scoreless frame with two strikeouts. Houston would not make the unlikely comeback in the top of the ninth, with the Rangers taking the game 6-1.

Up Next: The last game of the Astros' 2020 regular season will be Sunday at 2:05 PM Central, as are most other games on the MLB slate on the league's final regular-season day. Houston's starter is TBD as they will continue to preserve their arms for the best-of-three first round that starts on Tuesday, while Texas will send Jordan Lyles (1-6, 7.08 ERA) to the mound.

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