Falcon Points

Texans keep trying to erase mistakes, but at what cost?

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans released cornerback Aaron Colvin on Tuesday, a night after his embarrassing performance against the Saints. Colvin signed as a free agent last season and proved to be a disaster. He was given $18 million at signing, of which the Texans will still have to eat 7.5 million this year.

Signing Colvin did not work out. At least the Texans ejected, and signed free agent Phillip Gaines, who might be an upgrade. Then again, anything would be an upgrade.

Bill O'Brien the GM continues to try to erase mistakes at high costs. And probably making more along the way.

Had to be done

Colvin was clearly a mess, and cutting him probably was a must. It was once again admitting a big mistake. In the last month, they have cut running back D'Onta Foreman, a third round mistake. They traded Martinas Rankin, a third round mistake. They IR'd tight end Kahale Warring, who looks like...you guessed it, a third-round mistake. All they got in return was veteran RB Carlos Hyde, who at least looked good against the Saints. But the assets they have punted on are adding up.

Where it all started

It all began in 2017 when the Texans traded tackle Duane Brown to Seattle for next to nothing. They have been trying to fix left tackle ever since. That led to paying a premium for Laremy Tunsil. When Foreman was cut, they had to pay a premium for Duke Johnson. While those moves might not be bad in the long run, they sacrificed draft picks to try to correct mistakes.

More problems

They likely find themselves having made more recent miscues that will have to be corrected. The Colvin signing cost them money and a possibly the game against the Saints. But that was an easy erasure. The problem was not addressing the corner position effectively in free agency and the draft. They used a high pick on corner Lonnie Johnson, who only played special teams Monday night. While he might eventually work out, the fact that they thought Colvin was a better option...

And they have now invested five premium picks - three firsts and two seconds - on the offensive line. Only Tunsil started Monday night.

Fresh mistakes

They traded Jadeveon Clowney for nothing, weakening their defense, when they could have kept him another year. That is a mistake they will have to clean up next. Then on Tuesday they paid Nick Martin - a below average center - like a Pro Bowler. Don't be surprised if they Colvin that one in a year or two. They could have easily used the Martin money on Clowney. Instead they double down on less than ediocrity.

What does it all mean?

Deshaun Watson covers a lot of mistakes. But at some point, the Texans have to stop making them, and start making good calls. Maybe Bradley Roby works out. Maybe Johnson improves and is a factor by season's end. Maybe Titus Howard and Max Sharping become quality OL starters before the year is out. Those are realistic possibilities.

But what if they are mistakes, too? Watson can only carry them so far. As Bill O'Brien has become the be all, end all, he has erased past errors. Most of them are his own. So can his current moves be trusted?

I have mentioned this before, but this is very much like Chip Kelly's tenure in Philadelphia, when he took over personnel and made one misstep after another. At least when he was fired, they got a real GM and head coach and won a Super Bowl.

Watson should carry them to a winning season and a possible playoff berth, but if not, the mistakes will only be more glaring. And if O'Brien keeps making them? More of Watson's prime will be wasted.

O'Brien keeps making moves and trying to eliminate his missteps. And owner Cal McNair is giving him free reign. But are they making even more mistakes in the process?

We will find out soon enough.

Deshaun Watson had an up and down day. Tim Warner/Getty Images

So what does Bill O'Brien have in store for a Sunday encore in the clock management follies department? All's well that ends well for the Texans if another Billy Botch episode comes with another win. Get it and home games vs. the Panthers and Falcons make 4-1 a very legit possibility.

The Texans have a good shot to get the win in Los Angeles Sunday. They may have half the crowd rooting for them. The Chargers have the lamest homefield advantage in the NFL. L.A. has largely yawned at them since their move up the coast from San Diego. In their home opener the Chargers couldn't sell out the 27,000 seat soccer stadium serving as their temporary facility. Next season they move into the monument of wow and greed they'll share with the Rams. That place will hold about 70,000.

On the field it's a big game for the also 1-1 Chargers if they hope to hang with Kansas City in the AFC West race. The Chargers' three following games are at the joke Dolphins, then home vs. the not good Broncos and the Roethlisberger-less Steelers.

For the Texans, one major subplot is a constant. How porous will the offensive line be? Deshaun Watson has been sacked 10 times over the first two games. The Chargers have one of the NFL's better pass rushing duos in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. If the Texans can protect, opportunity knocks for big plays downfield with the Chargers down both of their starting safeties. Rookie All-Pro Derwin James is on injured reserve recovering from a broken foot, Adrian Phillips broke an arm last Sunday at Detroit.

Warm California sun

So if you were 300 strikeout man Gerrit Cole, what would you be thinking about re: 2020 and beyond? I mean after next month ideally helping the Astros win the World Series. And if you are the Astros what are you thinking?

In his two Astro seasons Cole has been tremendous. The ballclub is tremendous, and if Cole re-signs it that much more figures to stay tremendous for at least another couple of seasons. But Gerrit Cole is to become the most highly coveted free agent on the market. The low end of what he should be able to command is probably in the six years 150 million range. Heck, he could get seven years 250 million.

Next year the Astros payroll is set to soar into competitive balance tax territory. Meaning, in addition to the payroll itself, the Astros are looking at paying millions in penalties if they pay up to keep Cole. To counter that the Astros certainly could pivot and trade Zack Greinke. They basically will be open to giving away Josh Reddick and the 13 million he'll make in the final year of his contract.

Maybe Jim Crane and his partners say this is such a special era, we'll forego huge chunks of profits to keep this core together. That would be fantastic, but drawing a line on how far they'll go to keep Cole would not be miserly. Long term megadollar pitching contracts carry large risks. Cole turns 30 next season.

Cole grew up in Southern California. His wife too. It's where they live in the offseason. He went to high school under five miles from Angels Stadium and grew up an Angels fan. The Angels have a desperate need for starting pitching. Even with Cole though, the Angels can't essentially promise perennial contender status. But the Dodgers can, every bit as much as the Astros, and the Dodgers have much deeper pockets. If the Coles want to spend the rest of Gerrit's prime pitching years living year-round back home in SoCal, no one should take offense. Still, if the Astros’ bid is competitive when factoring in income tax rates, proven comfort level with the team, air conditioned comfort for home games…

Big weekend for Aggies

Better college football schedule this week after the garbage card of a week ago. The biggest game nationally is seventh ranked Notre Dame at number three Georgia. Big game for Texas A&M vs. Auburn at Kyle Field Saturday. The 17th ranked Aggies are three and a half point favorites over the eighth ranked team in the nation. A hard fought loss wouldn't be shameful, but would mean that with games yet to come vs. Alabama, at Georgia, and at LSU, the Ags would have to pull off at least one upset to finish better than 7-5. 75 million dollars to lure Jimbo Fisher were not spent to yield any 7-5 seasons.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Major Applewhite would have coached the Cougars to a 1-3 start much more economically for UH than Dana Holgorsen has. 2. The Tulane Green Wave wearing powder blue uniforms is just as dopey as the St. John's Red Storm and Duke Blue Devils wearing black. 3. Names that Houstonians should rule out for daughters: Bronze-Imelda Silver-Allison Gold-Alicia

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