Sunday night, the Texans did something not many truly thought was possible: they dominated the Patriots. I know the 28-22 final score and total yardage differential aren't indicative of domination, but the eye test told a different story. As I stated in my recap of the game, Tom Brady's frustration was visible early on. A ton of credit goes to
head coach general manager grand poobah of all things Texans, Bill O'Brien (more on his new title later). The players were so excited about the win and the roll O'Brien played, they gave him the game ball. It felt good to beat Bill Belichick, especially since he gave O'Brien a shot at the NFL level of coaching. This was a big win for this organization and the fans, but there's more to do.
Sure, beating the team that has owned you is a good look, but there's more to achieve. There are several reasons why I believe O'Brien is out of excuses. Here's why I think it's time for him to bleep or get off the pot:
News came down on Sunday that the Texans won't be hiring a general manager. This essentially means O'Brien is the Grand Poobah of the Texans. The only people who are more powerful are the McNairs, and they seem OK with giving O'Brien all the stroke he needs to do whatever he feels is necessary to build a winner here. With him as the GM and head coach, he only answers to the McNairs. Bill Parcells once famously stated "If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries." O'Brien now has the card, cart, and is all alone in the store.
O'Brien calls the plays, but Watson executes them. Often times when the called play goes awry, Watson improvises and makes chicken salad out of chicken bleep. His ability to extend plays is uncanny. He's enough to cover up some poor play calls and/or accentuate the good ones. O'Brien has the most key piece any grand poobah needs to succeed in football. He even calls certain plays to cater to Watson's abilities. The story about O'Brien and his coaching staff asking Watson what he felt most comfortable running and implementing those plays in his rookie year shows that he has the ability to adapt to Watson. If O'Brien wants to have continued success, Watson will play a very large part.
No one left to blame
Often times when things don't go well, people will blame others around them and absolve themselves of any responsibility. There is literally no one left for O'Brien to blame. He's now taken over the organization and holds all the keys to the kingdom. There's no Rick smith or Brian Gaine to get in his way of doing anything and everything he wants. Anybody with a seat at the table is probably too scared to say anything against him because O'Brien could have them removed. One of my favorite rappers growing up in New Orleans (B.G.) had an album in 1997 called "It's All On U" and this perfectly describes O'Brien's situation off Kirby.
Shooting his shot
After firing Gaine, O'Brien was the de facto GM. He went out and traded a motherload of draft picks for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. He also traded Jadeveon Clowney for some loosies, a case of quarter waters, a 3rd round draft pick. He then traded another pick for Gareon Conley, and later claimed Vernon Hargreaves off waivers. All these moves were made to fill holes the team has, and to clean up the messes that were made by previous personnel decisions, or lack thereof. The lack of draft capital over the next couple years makes it hard for anyone to come here and think he could turn things around quickly. He decided to go all in, now it's time to produce tangible results.
The win over the Patriots was nice, but let's see long term sustainable success. Winning the division six of the last nine years (if they hold on to win this year, which they should) is somewhat impressive, but the lack of deep playoff runs has been underwhelming. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see the team in the position that they're in. However, I'm ready to see them advance beyond their current state of perennial playoff team and ascend into the realm of Super Bowl contender. The only way to do that is to consistently make AFC title games and Super Bowl appearances. That ascension rests squarely on the shoulders of O'Brien. It's time for him to lead this team to the Promised Land, or move along. Either bleep, or get off the pot.
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.