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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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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