FALCON POINTS

Why this key to the Texans' success deserves more attention

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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 now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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