The time is now for Whitney Mercilus to step up for the Texans

It's now or never. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Texans defenders will have their hands full against the Minnesota Vikings, noon Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Both teams are in a "must-win" situation entering the game with distressing 0-3 marks.

Vikings offensive coordinator and former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak will look to use their vicious run attack (146.7 rushing yards per game) to assault the Texans frontline that has given up 160 or more rushing yards in each game this season.

History buffs will note the last time the Texans did this was 2008.

Much of the Vikings run workload will be on the back of Dalvin Cook, coming off a career performance, 181 yards on 22 carries, including a 39-yard touchdown.

Texans defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver has yet to muster a scheme to stop the run. The defense has allowed 4.49 yards per carry playing in 4-3 (base), and 6.19 yards per carry in nickel. These numbers demonstrate issues defending the run, with Whitney Mercilus as a prime culprit.

For the Texans to have a chance Sunday, it's time for Mercilus to step up and prove he's worth the 4-year 54 million dollar contact Bill O'Brien signed him to this past off-season. Against the Steelers last week, Mercilus failed to set the edge against the run, the third game in a row he's failed to get the job done. With only five solo tackles on the year and no quarterback hits, Texans fans' patience is running short with Mercilus.

It is clear that O'Brien is missing tackle D.J. Reader as part of the box that could slow a heavy run game. O'Brien obviously valued Mercilus over Reader, who left the Texans to sign an almost identical contract with the Bengals (Four-year 53 million).

One strategy that has been floated in preparing for Minnesota is loading the box with safety Justin Reid to shadow Dalvin Cook.

If the Texans had another veteran in the secondary this could be a workable proposal (cough cough Earl Thomas), but seriously they don't have another skill player in the secondary that can be trusted to defend deep pass routes.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is starting to develop chemistry with former national champion LSU burner Justin Jefferson. Cousins has connected with Jefferson 12 times for 245 yards and a touchdown in just three weeks with the rookie.

Jefferson and Pro-Bowl receiver Adam Thielen rank fourth and fifth in Pro Football Focus' Week 4 wide receiver grades. Texans cornerback Gareon Conley remains unavailable, but the young secondary has stayed consistent, ranking fourth in the league in efficiency against the deep ball. Regardless, Texans safety Justin Reid needs to hang back to lock down deep threats against Cousins and his core of receivers. Weaver should plan to have linebackers Zach Cunningham (team leader in tackles) and Bernardrick McKinney stack the box to contain Cook. Hopefully Mercilus shows up to the party.

Hopeful: Texans defensive end Charles Omenihu returned to practice Thursday after nursing a knee injury. Omenihu's return will be an essential cog to stopping the run and applying pressure on Cousins. Omenihu is tied with J.J. Watt for team leader in sacks (2).

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Many of the games have been hard to watch. Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

They say that breaking up is hard to do, then comes the rebuilding, and that's where the real pain happens. Last week, the 4-9 Rockets lost a tough game, 103-91, to the very average San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center. That night, Ben McLemore scored 21 points, while P.J. Tucker contributed four points.

Every other point for the Rockets was scored by a player who wasn't on the team last year. That's no way to build a fan base of young people, or older people, or anybody. Because of COVID restrictions, the Rockets can sell only 3,000 tickets to games, and they're still having to offer special deals like four tickets and four drinks (soda, water, wine or beer) for $79.

The night the Rockets fell to the Spurs, DeMarcus Cousins was out with an ankle injury (surprise), John Wall was out with a sore knee (shock), and Eric Gordon sat with a lower leg injury (stunning). They were not sidelined by COVID protocol, it was age creakiness. All three are on the other side of 30. All have a history of missing games because of injuries. Danuel House also missed the game because of a bad back and COVID protocol.

The Rockets took to the floor with able-bodied Mason Jones, David Nwaba, Rodions Kurucs, Kenyon Martin Jr., Jae'Sean Tate and Christian Wood. They're nice players, for sure, they're on an NBA roster. But the NBA is a megastar-driven operation. How many of them would you recognize if they were standing behind you at Costco? The way the Rockets sign, trade and cut players, many or most of the current roster won't be around next year. Becoming a fan of a current Rocket is like falling in love with the Rug Doctor you rented for the weekend at a supermarket. It's going back Monday.

Last year, the head coach was Mike D'Antoni, the general manager was Daryl Morey. Both are established and respected figures in the league. Would you recognize the Rockets new coach Stephen Silas? Can you even name the Rockets new general manager?

And that's how you sink to 14th place in the Western Conference standings, inevitably a lottery team, the end to the Rockets' eight-year run of making the playoffs … the longest current streak in the NBA. The 2021 Rockets aren't just a lousy product, it's worse, they're a boring team. Gordon and Tucker, maybe the two most popular Rockets veterans, are rumored to be traded soon. Fans will have abandonment issues.

Maybe the Rockets should offer something stiffer than beer on "Guys Night Out" next Thursday when the Portland Trail Blazers visit Toyota Center. Good seats available.

That's not what you want to see

Did you see where the New York Mets fired their general manager Jared Porter because he sent explicit, uninvited, unanswered text messages to a female reporter?. Porter absolutely deserved to lose his job. What he did was awful and cruel. More than just losing his job, he should be committed to a home for the terminally stupid. Who does something that moronic? So unconscionable and abusive, on top of being job-killing.

But not all junk shots are meant to be hurtful – here's one that's actually funny, and totally inadvertent and innocent. Several years ago, a local sportscaster not only took a photo of his naked, anatomically correct body, he posted it on Facebook for all of his friends, indeed the world, to see. I won't name the local sportscaster because he was the victim of his own innocent lack of focus. It could have happened to anybody. Not me, thankfully, but anybody else.

Here's how it happened. The sportscaster was taking a shower, and when he emerged, he noticed his kitten curled up in the bathroom sink. Aw, isn't that cute? The sportscaster grabbed his phone and took a photo.

And posted it on Facebook. He didn't notice that, in the background of the photo, in the mirror, was his naked body. You can't say he was butt naked because it was full frontal nudity. You can't say it was a wardrobe malfunction because there was no wardrobe involved. Fortunately his wife noticed the mishap and told the sportscaster to delete the photo.

Here's the real problem, and his solid alibi. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put huge, wide mirrors in the bathroom, especially opposite the bath tub? There's a good look, you're naked, dripping wet, with patches of soap you missed rinsing off. This should be a fleeting disturbing image, not one to be preserved on film or online. Solution: don't bring your phone, or any photographic equipment, into the bathroom. We've all taken accidental photos. Nobody needs to see a photo of your disgusting body. You are not Michelangelo's statue of David. I don't let my dog watch me take a shower or any other business conducted in the bathroom. There is a reason that bathroom doors have locks. Use them.

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