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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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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