Texans-Patriots has a different feel, and making sense out of the Rockets' latest moves

The Patriots return to NRG this Sunday. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

This time last year Patriots at Texans was so much more interesting. Now it's basically not interesting at all, from the Houston side anyway. The 2-7 Texans actually opened as favorites this week, though the wagering on the game soon changed that. The Texans should be favored over no one other than the Jaguars, Jets, and maybe at home vs. the Bengals or any NFC East team. Currently 4-5, this Patriots squad playing here Sunday is New England's worst in 20 years. Two years before the Texans played their first ever game is the last time the Patriots finished with a losing record. They closed 5-11 in 2000, Bill Belichick's first season as their head coach. The following season they launched a dynasty in winning Super Bowl XXXVI. This season New England must win out to get to 11-5. 2009 is the last time the Patriots didn't win at least 11. In the 10 years since they won at least 12 in nine of them. Ridiculous sustained excellence.

Riding with Rice?

Another double digit slate of college football games postponed this week because of coronavirus issues. The Longhorns, Aggies, and Cougars all are sidelined. Go Owls! Rice has played just two games thus far. The Owls are scheduled to play at North Texas Saturday. They are as I type this anyway.

The theoretical best college matchup of the week is third ranked Ohio State vs. number nine Indiana. The Buckeyes are favored by 20 and a half. Among division one schools none has lost more games all-time than the Hoosiers.

Rockets making money moves

The Rockets are not rudderless but one wonders how badly the rudder is mangled. Who knows how things play out with Russell Westbrook and more importantly James Harden, but this week's action leading up to and then through the NBA Draft speaks at least chapters if not volumes. When the Rockets traded Clint Capela back in February they claimed it was entirely a basketball move about being "all in" on "small ball." That was baloney then and it's baloney now. That it was in significant part basketball move, sure. But even pre-pandemic the financials played a role. At cost of a first round pick they had to include in the deal the Rockets got out of the three seasons more than 51 million dollars guaranteed on Capela's contract starting this season and took on Robert Covington who has two years roughly 24 million left. The financials have absolutely played a role in their moves since. Earlier this week the Rockets agreed to deal Covington to Portland for Trevor Ariza who has just one season 12.8 million coming. That actually seemed a decent deal with the Rockets getting the 16th pick in Wednesday's draft included. Then on draft day the Rockets cut a deal with Detroit to send Ariza and that number 16 pick, for zero in return that goes on the Rockets' books in 2020-21. The Rockets do get the Pistons' first round pick if it comes in 17th or lower any time over the next four years.

A twist of fate for George Springer?

Robinson Cano's second PED suspension, this one to cost him the entire 2021 season and his 24 million dollar salary, likely eradicates any shot he had at ever reaching the Baseball Hall of Fame. Strictly by on field results Cano was going to be an easy choice for Cooperstown. Cano played very well in the shortened 2020 season. Considering he was very unlikely to play that level in 2021, the Mets probably catch a big break getting out of Cano's money for the season. New Mets' owner Steve Cohen is worth an estimated 14 billion but billionaires don't like bad investments either, even if they can cover their losses by reaching between their sofa cushions. Bottom line is if Cohen wants to go on a free agent signing spree (think George Springer) he has 24 extra mil for 2021 with which to work. Cano has two years 48 million due over 2022 and 2023.

It's been very quiet on the Springer front. We'll see, but few think he returns to the Astros. The Blue Jays supposedly have the hots for George. If they're ready to pony up and Springer has any interest in them the White Sox still make the most sense to me.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Deshaun Watson said this week that Cam Newton has been his favorite quarterback. 20 years from now who will have had the better career? I like Deshaun in that one but remember that in the 2015 season Cam did win the NFL MVP award and lead the Panthers to a 15-1 record and Super Bowl appearance.

2. My favorite QB ever is the late great "Snake" Ken Stabler. That's Raider Ken Stabler, not Oiler Ken Stabler. And for goodness sakes not Saint Ken Stabler.

3. Most coveted Thanksgiving dinner side dishes: Bronze-cranberry sauce Silver-stuffing Gold-sweet potato casserole

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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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