Deal or no deal?

Timeline: Complete breakdown and analysis on Texans debacle with Earl Thomas

What happened with Earl Thomas? Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The past 48 hours have been a roller coaster of a ride for the Houston Texans. They went from a team on the verge of upgrading their secondary with one of the best defensive backs of the past decade in Earl Thomas, to conflicting reports to why the workout had stalled.

After hearing from head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien Wednesday morning via Zoom, here is a complete timeline of the events that took place between the Texans and their debacle with Thomas' workout, featuring the one and only — coronavirus.

A.J. Moore's injury opens the door for the Texans to sign Earl Thomas

When the Texans dropped their third consecutive game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston also lost safety A.J. Moore in the process. The 24-year-old defensive back from Mississippi left Sunday's game with a severe hamstring injury and did not return. Monday morning, the Texans announced that Moore could miss up to three weeks.

With Moore placed on injured reserve, O'Brien and his staff felt it was time to search the free agency pool in hopes of finding a player who can help fill in the empty void at safety. Although several players on the market could have stepped in for the injured Moore (i.e. Eric Reid and HaHa Clinton Dix), the Texans arranged a workout for free-agent Earl Thomas set for Tuesday, September 29. Thomas — along with several other players — made their way to Houston late Monday afternoon for their respective workouts.

Thomas' fit with the Texans & "signing this week is more likely than not"

Albeit Thomas' potential signing would have been a replacement for the injured Moore, the seven-time Pro-Bowler would have made an immediate impact on the Texans' secondary.
During his lone season with the Baltimore Ravens, Thomas, 31, proved he can still be a productive player on the field — despite being a year removed from a broken leg he sustained during his final season in Seattle.
In 2019, he re-established himself as a Pro-Bowl safety with 72 tackles (32 solo hits), six QB hit, and two sacks on the season. However, Thomas' best attribute to a team remains his pass coverage abilities, as he registered four pass deflections, four interceptions and only allowed 44% of passes (25 targets) to be completed in pass coverage.
In comparison to the Texans, Justin Reid has been Houston's most reliable DB through the first three games of the season, as he has only allowed 50% of passes to be completed in pass coverage. The second-best for Houston has been Vernon Hargreaves — who is allowing close to 70% of completions in pass coverage (66.7%) thus far.
The arrival of Thomas would have been a steal for Houston. However, with the narrative of being a locker room cancer, it appeared that the Texans were willing to look beyond Thomas' flaws in character. Late-Monday evening, all signs pointed toward a potential signing that was "more likely than not, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Virus outbreak alters Thomas' workout with the Texans

Early Tuesday morning, O'Brien and his staff received a call from the league office stating that eight members of the Tennessee Titans (now nine) tested positive for the Coronavirus. The NFL's first outbreak of COVID-19 led to several teams around the league to alter their plans for the week — including the Texans.

O'Brien said instead of having Thomas — along with several other players — held up in a hotel due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID; they felt it was in everyone's best interest to cancel all workouts scheduled for Tuesday. But instead of rescheduling, the Texans ceased Thomas' workout.

Speculations to why Houston canceled Thomas' workout altogether spread like wildfire. The most discussed reason, "the Texans decided Earl Thomas was not a good fit for their locker room." Both parties credited the latter. And late-Tuesday night, the outspoken future Hall-Of-Famer confirmed via Instagram that COVID was the reason behind his nixed workout with the Texans.

Ahead of practice Wednesday morning, O'Brien reaffirmed that Thomas' canceled workout was nothing more than concerns surrounding COVID. He has not ruled out the possibility of revisiting Thomas in the near future, so a potential signing could be put on hold for the time being.

"Earl Thomas is a hell of a player, he's had a great career," O'Brien said. "We had a bunch of guys in and we decided to cancel. We'll see how it goes moving forward. That's really what it was. It's not anything other than that. We've got a lot of respect for Earl."

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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