GLASS HALF FULL?

Here are 3 positives to offset Texans' harsh reality

What is David Culley seeing that isn't there? Composite image by Jack Brame.

Remember when former Texans coach Bill O'Brien sucked up losses with "it's on me," and Texans owner Cal McNair rewarded O'Brien's confessed ineptitude by giving him more money and more power?

Now we have Texans rookie coach David Culley explaining the team's humiliating, worst-ever, 40-0 defeat on Sunday by admitting, "I did not have them ready to play. I've got to do a better job. We got out-coached today. We just played bad football and that starts with the head coach."

What's gonna happen next – McNair gives Culley part-ownership of the Texans? This is how things are done in the Bizarro World, not the NFL.

Culley, who spent three decades in the NFL without a head coaching offer, is showing us why. He watched third-round pick Davis Mills exploit the Buffalo Bills defense for 11-21 completions, 87 yards, no touchdowns (obviously), three sacks, four picks and a puny 23.4 quarterback rating ... and said he's not looking to bring in another quarterback. What is Culley seeing that isn't there? The Texans would have done better with a running back in the wildcat. At least a running back can run.

It's not like the Texans are committed to Mills as their starter and he might benefit from taking his lumps now. He's just a seat-filler until Tyrod Taylor heals up. Getting his head handed to him is not going to make Mills a better quarterback. Remember how David Carr never recovered from his disastrous first year with the newborn Texans? Carr was a tackling dummy in 2002, and still holds the NFL single-season record for getting sacked – 76 times. Don't tell me, well, Troy Aikman's Cowboys went 1-15 and Peyton Manning's Colts were 3-13 in their rookie seasons.

Davis Mills ain't Aikman or Manning. You have eyes, did you see a future Hall of Famer out there Sunday? The most optimistic, glass-half-filled comment I heard about the game was, "at least the defense played OK for a half."

For a half.

Before the season started, I predicted that the Texans would be underdogs every game and finish 0-17, a new record for horribleness in the NFL. I was wrong, it's on me. I underestimated how truly awful and even worse the Jacksonville Jaguars are. Last year, the Jags won their first game and then ran the table with 15 consecutive losses (and still counting, by the way). All eyes are on the Dec. 19 Texans-Jaguars rematch in Jacksonville. I'm thinking it will be pick'em.

What are the positives?

1. Thanks to the Jaguars, the Texans don't even have the most embarrassing coach in the league. At least Culley hasn't been caught dealing with soul-crushing defeat by having a young blonde grind on him in a bar while his wife is home watching the grandkids. Let's go to the video and zero in on Urban Meyer's right hand.

This episode isn't done and it's not going to end well for Meyer. His players reportedly dislike him and he's portrayed as a clown show by NFL media. More important, and really the be all, his team is 0-4. Of course if he pulled this crap in Houston, he'd get a promotion.

Yeah, things aren't going peachy for the Texans in 2021. The team's decades-old streak of sold-out crowds has ended, the natives are restless online, and the team is circling the drain. Fan support is dwindling. And this is Texas, where football is supposed to reign supreme.

2. You want tickets to a Texans game? The team's official website has all you want, and there are thousands of tickets available on secondary market sites. You can get a ticket for next week's home game against the Patriots for the low, low price of $59. That's what a 1-3 record and an out-coached coach will get ya. Let's go comparison shopping. The cheapest ticket available online for the next Green Bay Packers home game - $209. Three times as much for three times as many wins.

3. Of course we can look on the bright side of the Texans humbling 40-0 beatdown by Buffalo. While it's the worst loss in Texans history, it's nowhere close to the most lopsided margin of defeat in NFL history. In 1940, the Chicago Bears walloped the Washington Redskins, 73-0, in the NFL Championship Game, as the title game was known then. Mind you the game was played in Washington in front of a sold-out stadium with 36,034 hometown fans.

It's not known if the Washington coach later said, "It's on me."

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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