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

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans out-Patriot the Patriots

Texans take down the Pats. Photo by Getty Images.

Every dog has its day. A broken clock is right two times a day. All the clichés about it being better to be lucky than good can apply here with the Texans 27-20 win over the Patriots. In a matchup that broke a record for the oldest combined age for opposing head coaches, 141 years old, Romeo Crennel beat his former boss Bill Belichick. There were other narratives at work here, as well as a few things (good and awful) that the coaching staff did.

First thing I saw that I liked was the spread and no-huddle on offense. If you've been following this series of articles, you know I've been on this train quite a while now. This allows Deshaun Watson to find the matchup he likes, exposes the defense because they can't sub, takes advantage of Texans' speed at receiver, and creates a tempo most defenses can't keep up with. Not to mention the spread is the offense Watson operated in at Clemson. 28/37 for 344 yards and two touchdowns of production from Watson was enough for me to say they need to have this as their M.O. moving forward.

Tim Kelly called a great game. He used the short, quick pass game in lieu of the run game. This also helped since Laremy Tunsil was out and Roderick Johnson had to play at left tackle. This offensive line is not very good at run blocking. Hence, why Watson was again the team's leading rusher with only 36 yards. Almost all of those were on scrambles. By going spread and no-huddle, Watson can take advantage of man and zone coverages to extend plays or scramble because most teams won't spy him. Even when they do, he makes them look silly.

Not everything was on the up and up. The defense continued to look like booty juice. Cam Newton threw for 365 yards and Damiere FREAKIN Byrd torched them for 132 of those yards! When I heard the quote from Crennel that defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver is getting the most out of his guys, I found it laughable. To double down on that, Weaver was quoted as saying, "This narrative that's being painted like my guys aren't disciplined and running around blocks, quite frankly and to put it bluntly, is bull---t!" Sorry guys, but you're both wrong. This defense can't fight its way out of a wet paper bag if you gave them knives. The worst part about it is that the offense's best chance at success sets the defense up for failure. Their hurry up scheme leaves little time for this porous defense to catch its wind. If they could get some turnovers or just off the damn field and get stops, it would help the offense.

With six games left, their three games outside the AFC South (Bengals, Lions, Bears) are all winnable. The two matchups against the Colts and the season finale against the Titans will prove to be their biggest tests. However, this is the same team that has four one possession losses. 3-7 could look a lot different if the offense stepped up against the Browns, or the defense made stops against the Steelers, Vikings, or Titans. Let's hope they can build off this win and salvage whatever they can of this season.

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