The Pallilog

Texans continue to underwhelm in the off season

Tashaun Gipson

An NFL's team offseason certainly is far from wholly defined by the first few days of free agency, but out of the gate the Texans certainly have underwhelmed. Armed with one of the largest war chests of cap space in the league, General Manager Brian Gaine and Head Coach Bill O'Brien have thus far combined to add zero talent to boost the Texans' very undertalented offensive line. That is weak. They are worse at safety in the exchange down from Tyrann Mathieu to Tashaun Gipson, though Bradley Roby at cornerback brings more upside than Kareem Jackson.

Tactically overpaying is sometimes a necessity, whether to retain one's own players or to add from the outside. Gaine and O'Brien talk about developing and keeping their own as the primary way to build. Well, they better improve at that. See A.J. Bouye, Brandon Brooks, and even Ben Jones. In five seasons O'Brien has yet to develop and keep an above average o-lineman.

The Texans have two more seasons of Deshaun Watson on the very cheap. J.J. Watt turns 30 next week. This is the window to step up aggressively. Fortune favors the bold. The Texans are more bland than bold. Bold does not mean reckless.

The Texans are armed with a first round pick and two second rounders. Given the mess of the offensive line and a remaining clear deficiency at corner, it is a huge fail if they can't nab at least two instant starters.

Rocket roll

Last season the Rockets had three winning streaks longer than 10 games. Their chance for a 10-gamer this season was a grand opportunity, but they weren't up to it in losing Wednesday night to Golden State. A fully healthy Rockets team on a nine game roll was significantly outplayed most of the way, at home, by the Kevin Durant-less Warriors. That essentially killed off any revived hope of the Rockets making a run at the top seed in the Western Conference. The Rockets do have a soft remaining schedule which should position them to finish third in the West, which would mean avoiding a prospective second round series vs. the two-time defending champs. DeMarcus Cousins dominating Clint Capela was especially disconcerting if thinking of a Rockets-Warriors postseason sequel.

State of college hoops

And now the college scene. The Houston Cougars are the rightful favorites to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament, but it is not a given. Their semifinal game comes against the Central Florida team that beat them at the Fertitta Center, or a Memphis team playing on its homecourt. After their second half devastation of Cincinnati Sunday to win the regular season title outright, the Coogs have a chance to take a 32-2 record into the NCAA Tournament.They are locked in to be at least a number three seed, with some possibility of a number two. The top three ACC teams (Virginia, North Carolina, and Duke) are all locks to be properly seeded above UH. Gonzaga will be a one or at worst a two. Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan State make seven teams highly likely to be ahead of UH. The committee could slot the Cougars as the lowest number two, with Florida State, Kansas State, and Purdue among other possibilities. Texas Tech badly hurt its claim of a two seed by going down in flames to last place West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament.

Speaking of down in flames, 16-16 for the Texas Longhorns. No .500 team has ever received an NCAA at-large bid and the Horns certainly don't deserve to be the first. Shaka Smart is 66-66 at Texas. If Smart didn't have roughly 13 million guaranteed dollars left on his contract he'd be a strong candidate to be fired. Five years ago when a coveted coach at VCU, Smart would have scoffed at the idea of taking the UH job. Meanwhile Kelvin Sampson stands a good chance of winning at least one National Coach of the Year award. Texas A&M fell apart this season, hence Billy Kennedy is out after eight seasons in College Station. It's understandable, but Kennedy did coach the Aggies to the Sweet 16 in two of the prior three seasons. Shaka has zero NCAA wins at UT.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Fun matchup if it's Texas Southern vs. Prairie View Saturday for the SWAC title and automatic NCAA bid. 2. Verlander and Cole mean the Astros' rotation is clearly the best in the AL West, but there is definitely cause for concern behind them. 3. Worst ex-Astro misreads of their free agent value this offseason:Bronze-Martin Maldonado. Silver-Marwin Gonzalez. Gold-Dallas Keuchel

Every-Thing Sports

Texans vs Chiefs: Good, bad & ugly

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The Texans and Deshaun Watson won the battle of the two best quarterbacks from the 2017 draft over Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs 31-24. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Although both young quarterbacks had two turnovers each, it was Watson who outdueld Mahomes. He had a total of 322 yards and three touchdowns to Mahomes' 272 yards and three touchdowns. It was his ballsy playmaking ability on two fourth down conversions, as well as his timely rushing touchdowns in a big time road win that put him over.

-Rookie defensive lineman Charles Omenihu had a crucial strip sack of Mahomes just before halftime. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney recovered the fumble and the Texans scored on the next play to go up 23-17 with their 20th unanswered points of the first half. This was a huge momentum shifter.

-Tashaun Gipson caught the first Mahomes interception of the season in the second quarter. The Chiefs were driving again and in field goal range when Mahomes took a shot at the end zone thinking he had a free play because of a potential pass interference/defensive holding call. The refs remarkably overruled the original call and ruled it an interception. Shocker!

The Bad

-Whitney Mercilus jumped offsides and Mahomes took a deep shot knowing he had a free play. Tyreek Hill won the jumpball over Justin Reid and Phillip Gaines. Hill is listed at 5'10, but looked as if he was 6'7 when he leaped to catch the ball. Reid appeared to have the ball in his grasp, but came up empty.

-Carlos Hyde fumbled on the first play from scrtimmage where he appeared to have simply lost his grip on the ball. The no-contact fumble was recovered by the Chiefs and led to a field goal to put the score at 10-0 about five minutes into the game.

-Watson threw a pick into double coverage trying to go for DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone while thewy were in field goal range down 24-23. It was his second pick of the day. It also came after Hopkins dropped a potential touchdown catch uncharacteristically taking his eyes off the ball before securing the catch.

The Ugly

-Horrible missed call on an offensive pass interference on the Chiefs opening drive! Travis Kelce basically threw a pass block that opened up Damien Williams for a huge 52-yard gain. The Texans challenged the call and the refs upheld it. This was the epitome of ref C.Y.A.

-The two teams combined for 14 penalties for 114 yards in the first half. That was most in a half this season. In an offensive shootout, penalties can kill you. They ended the game with 21 combined penalties for 149 yards.

-Rookie offensive lineman Tytus Howard was carted off with a leg injury on the third play of the 3rd quarter. It looked to be somewhat serious as his leg was rolled on and bent in a weird way. Bradley Roby gingerly walked off the field mid way throught he 3rd quarter and left the Texans with four healthy corners. Few plays later, Chiefs went up 24-23 on another Hill touchdown catch.

The Texans put together a great gameplan and it went as well as one could expect against a juggernaut like the Chiefs. Bill O'Brien deserves come credit. He gambled on a couple key 4th down conversions because he trusted Watson to do the right thing. He also committed to the run to the tune of 192 yards on the ground, despite Hyde's early fumble. Hyde himself ended up with 116 yards rushing. If O'Brien and Watson keep this up, there could be big things on the horizon. Next week's matchup against the Colts in Indy will tell us who's the big dog in the AFC South. Can O'Brien and Watson make magic again?

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