How season finale against Titans could impact Texans future plans

The Texans conclude their season this Sunday against the Titans. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Well, the Texans’ season comes to a close Sunday. Buck up, it’s emotionally difficult for all of us. The late coach Dennis Green had a famous postgame rant after his Arizona Cardinals blew a 20-0 halftime lead at home and lost 24-23 to the Chicago Bears thanks to two Bears’ defensive touchdowns and a game winning Devin Hester punt return TD. Green yelled “The Bears are who we thought they were!...They are who we thought they were! And we let ‘em off the hook!” The 2021 Texans are who we thought they were. A lousy team and general embarrassment. As the Texans wrap up their 20th season of play, only the expansion 2002 squad scored fewer points per game than this year’s mess of an offense. They sit 4-12 with Sunday’s season finale looming before thousands of empty seats at NRG Stadium. Only three of the 12 losses have been by fewer than 10 points. Eight of the 12 have been by 15 points or more. Four years ago when the Cleveland Browns went 0-16, they lost “only” five games by 15 or more. The 2008 0-16 Lions lost seven times by 15+.

Of course, the organizational intent was to stink this season. More easily accomplished when there was really no alternative, but they nailed it! Reminder that Deshaun Watson picks up one last roughly $600,000 check this week to have gone the entire season healthy and paid in full while basically on strike. With one final defeat the Texans secure the third overall pick in the coming NFL Draft. The Jets and Giants are also 4-12 but the Texans have played the easiest schedule of the three, with strength of schedule the first first round draft order tiebreaker. The Jets are extremely likely to lose at Buffalo Sunday. The Giants are home underdogs vs. Washington. So if the Texans screw up and win Sunday, they could drop to the fifth pick in the first round. With no quarterbacks worthy of top five consideration in this draft, dropping a couple of spots wouldn’t be catastrophic, but the higher draft slot you have the better. In every round.

How bizarre it would be if the stink bomb Texans upended the very good Titans Sunday to make it a sweep of the season series. The Texans would be 4-2 in AFC South games, 1-10 vs. everybody else. That would also cost the Titans the number one seed and first round bye that comes with it in the AFC playoffs. Rather unlikely it happens, but who thought it likely the Texans would win in Nashville in the first meeting.

An aside on the aforementioned Bears-Cardinals game. The year was 2006. Can you name the two starting quarterbacks? Answer below.

No All-Star love for the Rockets?

As shocking as the Texans having no Pro Bowlers, the Rockets have no one in the hunt to be voted to the NBA All-Star Game. The promos the Rockets run during their telecasts encouraging fans to vote for Christian Wood (!) Kevin Porter Jr. (!), Jalen Green (!) and others (!) invite derision.

Alabama vs. Georgia

I know the real why, but why is Georgia favored over Alabama in Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship game in Indianapolis? The Bulldogs are three point favorites. In the SEC championship game just over a month ago the Crimson Tide spotted the Dawgs a 10-0 lead, then pummeled them 41-14 the rest of the way for a 17 point win. Yes, new day new game, but while Georgia certainly could win the game the Tide has more talent, decisively so at quarterback with Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young over Georgia’s okay Stetson Bennett. The idea that it’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season? Not if one team is flat out better than the other. While if I had a farm I wouldn’t bet it, Bama plus the points definitely seems the sensible pick as Nick Saban tries to make it a ridiculous seven national titles in the last 13 seasons. The last three championship games have been routs. Last good one was in 2018, Alabama over Georgia in overtime. Next year’s finale is scheduled for Los Angeles. The 2023 season culminates January 8, 2024 at NRG Stadium. Jimbo Fisher’s monster Texas A&M recruiting class will be sophomores in 2023. Hmmm.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. The Bears-Cardinals starting QBs: future Texans Rex Grossman and Matt Leinart. Grossman would end that season starting in the Super Bowl.

2. UH center Josh Carlton dropped a 30 point game pretty much out of nowhere Wednesday night. Akeem (at the time everyone thought it was Akeem) Olajuwon had two 30 point games as a Cougar. Elvin Hayes had 52.

3. Greatest ever offense only NBA Texas teams players: Bronze-George Gervin Silver-Hakeem Olajuwon Gold-Dirk Nowitzki But wake up Steve Kerr and anyone who agrees with him that Dirk is the greatest international player in NBA history. Dream on.

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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