FALCON POINTS

Why this key to the Texans' success deserves more attention

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

One of the underreported story lines of the 2020 Texans season is the team will be going with rookie co-ordinators on both sides of the ball. Play-calling is a specific skill; good coaches put their players in the best chance to succeed. If they execute, the play works. If not? That's not always on the coach.

But what do we really know about new OC Tim Kelly and DC Anthony Weaver?

Kelly was in on play calling last year, and theoretically will take it on full-time this season. But we should not expect a lot to be different. Kelly is a Bill O'Brien protege and the system should not change much on that side of the ball. The personnel should be there for the Texans to have a very good offense. The more interesting hire is on the other side of the ball.

The Texans did this two years ago, promoting Romeo Crennel to Assistant Head Coach and making Mike Vrabel DC. It was a mixed bag. The team was 28th in passing yards allowed, but third against the run and 12th overall, and Vrabel has since gone on to have success as head coach of the Titans. Crennel returned last year, and the defense was worse, finishing 19th in points allowed, 29th in passing yards allowed, 25th in rushing yards allowed and 28th overall in yards allowed. Instead of going with a proven name to replace Crennel, O'Brien chose Weaver.

Once again, Crennel is assistant head coach, with Weaver taking over the defense. Weaver is highly regarded, but until he actually starts calling plays, what do we really know?

Crennel, for one, thinks Weaver will do a good job.

"Anthony is a smart young man," Crennel said. "He really is. He's organized. He's thoughtful. That's the thing that I kind of look at. I know that he's a good football coach because I've seen him coach his position. They do very well. He relates to the players and they relate to him. So now, it's to the point about game planning, putting in a system and then getting the players to buy into that system so that it can be a productive group. I see that occurring and taking place and I feel good about what he brings to the table. So, so we'll find out. That's the thing about football, you get a chance to find out how things work. I think with what I've seen so far, I think that he'll do a very good job." (quote via Houston Texans PR transcript)

And maybe he will. Coaches have to get a start somewhere. But the personnel might not be good enough. Counting on J.J. Watt to stay healthy this late in his career is iffy, and without Watt, there is very little pass rush, which puts pressure on a secondary that is mediocre at best. Can Weaver get more pressure on the passer? Can his secondary hold up? Those are things that might not be in his control. But if you can't stop the pass in this league, there will be struggles. And if you can't stop the run or the pass, which was the issue last year? The 10-6 record was almost a miracle.

The offense should be what we are used to seeing; a top 15 or so unit that at times is explosive and at others impotent. But how far the Texans go this season will depend on improved play on the other side of the ball, and Weaver has been tasked with that job. If he can improve that group, then there is reason for optimism.

It certainly will be hard for them to be worse.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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