And Paul Gallant's other "In A Nutshell" thoughts on Texans - Lions

Uh, What's Going On At Texans Tackle?

To fully get in the mood for the coming hot Texans takes, you're going to need to go back to 2001. To a place of angst, sadness, and alternative metal post-grunge. STAIN[d] YOURSELF.

But I'm going to change the lyrics up for you:

"It's been a while . . . since I could . . . trust the Texans offensive line to not be an accomplice to QB murder!"

"It's been a while . . . since they had Duane Brown."

Songwriter Aaron Lewis said that this song was about addiction and failed relationships. That it's an acknowledgement of the past. And considering the Texans have had a plus starter at left tackle for just 1 of the last 33 games they've played, this song really hits home.

  • They've got an addiction to trying young linemen out at multiple positions from the get go, usually confusing them
  • And they've been through failed relationships with Brandon Brooks and Duane Brown, who have thrived in Philly and Seattle respectively
The Texans seemed to acknowledge their recent past - an offensive line featuring zero blue chip caliber players - by drafting Tytus Howard and Max Scharping in the first 2 rounds of April's draft.
But things haven't looked very improved for the unit thus far this preseason, especially when they've involved left tackle Matt Kalil. That said, Saturday night against the Lions, the Texans had a completely different starting offensive line:
  • Left tackle: Roderick Johnson
  • Left guard: Tytus Howard
  • Center: Zach Fulton
  • Right guard: Max Scharping
  • Right tackle

And the results of this unit? On the Texans first drive of the season featuring both Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins? Well . . .

. . . It looked good! Deshaun had plenty of time, and led the Texans on an easy 11 play, 75 yard touchdown drive that ended with a 4 yard touchdown pass to Hopkins.

I don't know much about Roderick Johnson, and he was only out there for one drive. But based off what I saw Saturday (against a very vanilla Lions defense without its best player: Trey Flowers), and what I've heard from some ex-player colleagues of mine, he's looked better than Matt Kalil this off-season. That said, after the game Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said that Kalil "is the starting left tackle" AND that Kalil will play next week.

Even more unfortunately:

Football coaches are notorious for being misleading and vague, if not outright lying. And Bill O'Brien has been no different. Take the way that he handled Deshaun Watson his rookie season, constantly declaring Tom Savage the team's starting quarterback until just one half of football had been played in 2017. I'm hoping that O'Brien is doing that again, because Kalil sure as hell hasn't looked likesomeone who should be trusted with defending Deshaun Watson's blind side.

[Also, for the love of Tom Brady, please trade for Trent Williams. He will never play another down for the Redskins because they have an incompetent training staff and misdiagnosed a tumor that he had on his head. McClain was probably told by someone in the organization that there's no interest in him on the Texans front, and if that's true, that's simply dumb.]

My other thoughts on Texans - Lions . . .

PLEASE DON'T GET HURT, THANK YOU.

Seeing actual starters playing in the preseason is just a LITTLE traumatizing. The games are meaningless, and even though I enjoy seeing them on the field, I'd MUCH prefer that none of them you know, die.

The Good:

D-Hop gets it. While his teammates were busy being show ponies lightly jogging through a tunnel of cheerleaders onto the field, Nuk took a diagonal path and walked the shortest distance possible to the Texans sideline. He's already the best wide receiver in the NFL. And after further minimizing the risk for a freak accident injury he CLEARLY deserves a 100 awareness rating in Madden.

The Bad:

On a third and 8 from the Lions 12, Deshaun took off on a scramble . . .

[Paul nervously bit his lip]

. . . and when a defender came up to stop him . . .

[Paul frantically began pull his own hair]

. . . he dove . . .

[Paul murmured "no"]

. . . headfirst . . .

[Paul screamed "NO!"]

. . . only to end up a yard short of the first down.

[Paul heckled "DO YOU WANT TO TAKE ANOTHER BUS TO PRESEASON GAME NUMBER 3 IN OKLAHOMA????"]

Tytus Howard already had an uphill battle as a rookie offensive lineman who might be a day one starter. Throwing a broken finger at him will make things even more difficult for him this year, even if it's something he can play through.

That said, maybe now the Texans will keep him at left guard and stop giving him reps / possible confusion by sometimes sliding him over to left tackle.

QUICKIES:

  • He hasn't gone up against any receivers of note. But in 2 games, Bradley Roby has been giving opposing receivers practically zero separation while in man coverage. And Saturday, he deflected a key pass on third down. Was it a poorly thrown pass by a not so good quarterback? Yup. Still, having ANY cornerback who can make plays on the ball is an upgrade.
  • Whitney Mercilus also looked good out there. I'm hoping that the Texans continue to put him in spots where he can get after the passer, because he's pretty damn good at that. But that may depend on whether or not Jadeveon Clowney rejoins the team.
  • There may be an early season roster spot as a receiver up for grabs with Keke Coutee's ankle injury. Unfortunately, Vyncint Smith and Tyron Johnson may have let that opportunity slip through their fingers with a couple of drops. Luckily, DeAndre Carter looked very much like he can still be trusted should Coutee be out a prolonged period of time.
  • The Texans love Joe Webb's versatility. But if backup QB A.J. McCarron's thumb injury lingers into the regular season, they've got to find an actual backup quarterback. Webb can scoot, but between the interception he threw into triple coverage and the one pass he threw left handed, I want zero part of him coming into a game should Deshaun Watson get hurt.
  • And this was awesome...

Paul Gallant hosts the "Gallant Says" podcast (Tuesdays & Fridays), "Just Sayin'", Friday nights at 10:30 on Kube 57, and contributes to SB Nation Radio. Have any questions? Get after him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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After the Mariners came alive late in Monday's series opener to hand the Houston the loss and keep their playoff picture hanging in the balance, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Tuesday to try and decrease their magic number. Here's how the middle game went:

Final Score: Astros 6, Mariners 1.

Record: 28-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (5-3, 3.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Casey Sadler (1-2, 5.40 ERA).

Both teams trade first-inning runs

The Astros struck first in Tuesday's game, not waiting around until the ninth inning to get on the board. Instead, they jumped out to an immediate 1-0 lead after a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker in the top of the first. The Mariners responded quickly, though, getting a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning before a two-out RBI-double of their own to tie it 1-1.

Astros score five in the sixth

The 1-1 score held all the way until the top of the sixth when the Astros would flip the script from the night prior, taking advantage of some mistakes by Seattle to put up a big inning. First, Michael Brantley started the inning with a solo go-ahead homer to make it 2-1. Then, Kyle Tucker would get his third hit of the night with one out before eventually scoring after a walk and two wild pitches, making it 3-2. With two walks to keep the inning alive and put some insurance runs on base, Martin Maldonado took advantage with a big three-run home run to extend the lead to 6-1.

Valdez finishes seven strong, Astros even series

After allowing the one run in the bottom of the first, Framber Valdez recovered and put together a solid outing on the mound. He allowed just five hits total, two of which came in the first, then back-to-back singles in the fourth and a single in the fifth, while otherwise keeping the Mariners at bay. He would end up completing seven innings of one-run baseball while striking out eight. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 108 P.

After Valdez, Enoli Paredes would take over in the bottom of the eighth, working around a leadoff single to get a scoreless inning to keep it 6-1. In the non-save situation, Josh James would come in for the bottom of the ninth and finish off the win for Houston.

Up Next: The finale and rubber game of this three-game set will start a bit earlier on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:40 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Nick Margevicius (1-3, 5.35 ERA) for the Mariners going against Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.90 ERA) for the Astros.

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