THE PALLILOG

Texans latest move is not a great look, but it was justified

The Texans fired HC David Culley on Thursday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

No pity party is warranted for ex-Texans Head Coach David Culley. He impressed as a head coach not at all. His retirement is funded by millions more dollars than it would have been had he remained an assistant coach in Baltimore or anywhere else. Still, washing Culley down a gulley after just one season makes Texans’ Emperor of Football Nick Caserio (and of course Cal McNair, and probably Jack Easterby) look worse.

It’s de facto acknowledgment that the Texans botched the hire when after one season they deemed their choice so bad that it was time to cut bait despite Culley having three more seasons of guaranteed salary. After the Texans’ miserable season mercifully ended Sunday, doing the deed took until Thursday? It took the last few days to put together the evaluation and decision? ? Somewhere on a spectrum from unimpressive to buffoonery, with disingenuous somewhere in there. Nevertheless, if Culley was determined to be over his head (he was) or at least immediately replaceable by someone better (he better be), firing him is of course justified. Cut your losses, move on, and do better with the next hire. Nevertheless, not a great look for the Texans or NFL that the only African-American hired as a head coach between the 2020 and 2021 seasons got only one year before getting his pink slip, albeit with a multi-million dollar go away check. As fair counter to that from the Texans’ perspective: Rick Smith, Romeo Crennel, Lovie Smith, Culley. Meaning the Texans’ resume of hiring minorities to positions of authority is not blank.

It’s not as if Culley underachieved. Of course, he didn’t overachieve either. The Texans’ 4-13 record was in line with low preseason expectations. The roster was terrible, in part by design. The greatest jockey in the world isn’t winning thoroughbred races saddled upon a jackass. Culley clearly was no great jockey. He certainly was guilty of too many bungled in-game decisions and explanations. Might he have grown in the job some in a second season? We’ll never know, but he didn’t look a good bet.

The idea that no decent coach would touch the Texans’ job with a ten foot pole is nonsense. Plenty might opt to wait for what they consider a better opportunity, but there are only 32 NFL head coaching gigs. Even on the low end, they pay well. The natural candidate pool of links to Caserio’s time with the New England Patriots includes Pats’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, 35 year old Pats’ linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and Brian Flores, fired Monday as Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins.

The Texans have back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2005 and 2006. Last time the Rockets finished with losing records in consecutive years? 1983 and 1984. Damn impressive. That changes in the next month, month and a half with the Rockets lugging their 12-31 record into the weekend.

Turn back the clock

Had NFL all-time great safety Kenny Houston on the radio show this week. If only vaguely or not at all familiar with him since he last played in 1980. think a blend of Ronnie Lott and Ed Reed and you get a pretty good idea. Houston played six seasons with the Oilers before being dealt to Washington where he played his remaining eight seasons. 12 time Pro Bowler, 12 times named first or second team All-Pro, named to both the NFL 75th and 100th anniversary teams. Pretty good for a ninth round draft choice out of Prairie View A&M. Houston was drafted in 1967, a class which produced eight Hall of Famers. No class since has produced more. 55 years ago is obviously a long time, but it is still notable that among Houston and his Class of ’67 Hall brethren not one played his college ball in the Southeastern Conference or Southwest Conference. Four of the eight played at so called “black colleges.” Houston at PV, Rayfield Wright at Fort Valley State, Lem Barney at Jackson State, and Willie Lanier at Morgan State. Gene Upshaw played at Division Two Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville). Among those five only Upshaw was a first round pick.

Can you name the three “big school” Hall of Famers from the NFL 1967 Draft? Hints of course! Purdue quarterback, Syracuse running back, Notre Dame defensive lineman. Answer below.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. The Hall of Famers: Bob Griese, Floyd Little, Alan Page.

2. In Houston NFL head coach annals David Culley is no Bill Peterson. In 19 games as Oilers’ HC in the early 70s, Peterson went 1-18.

3. Betting the farm on it, most likely Super Wild Card Weekend upset winners: Bronze-Raiders Silver-Cardinals Gold-49ers

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ROCKETS FALL TO WARRIORS

Critical takeaways from Rockets' 105-103 loss to Warriors

Rockets fall short against Warriors. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

This wasn't the typical Houston Rockets-Golden St. Warriors game when Mike D' Antoni and Steve Kerr were having an offensive battle of wits. James Harden, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was nowhere in sight for the Rockets Friday night. Although the Rockets are in rebuild mode, it was still an interesting game. The intensity was high throughout the entire game. Emotions between Stephen Silas and Kerr were heavy, as they were yelling and jumping up-and-down along the sidelines.

A series of runs and back-and-forth scoring gave a slight reminder of the old rivalry between the Warriors and Rockets. Steph Curry was having a tough game, but with 5.1 seconds left, he was able to create great separation from a step back and drained an incredible midrange shot over Kevin Porter Jr. It was heartbreaking because Porter played great defense on Curry throughout the entire game, with Curry only making 6 out of 22 shots. Porter had a tremendous first-half defensively on Curry and recorded an 88.9 defensive rating. Porter had a good feel for guarding Curry, he didn't allow himself to switch away from him. He anticipated passing lanes and ripped Curry a couple of times.

Besides Porter playing great defense, the Rockets played good as a whole. They finished with 10 steals. Their main technique was to switch everything on defense, and Kenyon Martin Jr. and Christian Wood did a good job. It's never easy staying in front of Curry and Jordan Poole, but if they could hold their ground for five seconds, it became possible. Porter did a great job at times by communicating on defense, so he could tell Jalen Green and Eric Gordon when to switch.

And speaking of Green--- he had a strange night offensively. He went 0-11 from the field but made two great plays in the fourth quarter. Instead of Silas keeping Green on the bench because of his cold hand, he kept him in the game for learning purposes. Green made an outstanding play on Curry at the 2:52 mark in the 4th quarter. Before that, he missed a shot from three but fought hard for the rebound, then found a cutting Wood towards the rim. Green might of struggled, but the effort was there.

This was a tough loss for the Rockets, but they are steadily improving. The Rockets are 3-5 in their last five games.

Up next: The Rockets face the Spurs on Tuesday night.

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