Tag Archives: Houston Texans

SI Names Jose Altuve and J.J. Watt as Co-Sportspersons of 2017

Sports Illustrated has name two Houston legends – Jose Altuve and J.J. Watt as its Co-Sportspersons of the Year for 2017.  They were bestowed the award for entirely different reasons.

Altuve had one of the most magical seasons imaginable winning the American League batting title, MVP and Silver Slugger awards.  Oh, and yeah – winning the World Series for the first time in Astros history after the city was devastated by Hurricane Harvey.  Altuve carried the team at times during the post-season recording a record 17 hits, 6 home runs and batting .472 at Minute Maid.  Other than Mike Trout he is probably the best baseball player alive right now.  And by all signs a credit to his community for charitable works and tremendous attitude.

Watt on the other hand, had a miserable 2017 on the field.  He played in 4 games with zero sacks and was lost for the season early in the Chiefs game .  All of this coming after losing most of the 2016 season to injury as well.  Whether he ever returns to the greatness he showed during his first 5 years in the league is questionable at this point.  But in the face of Harvey, Watt determined to raise some money for relief.  He set his goal at $200,000 and ended up raising $37 million and it appears that almost all of that money has gone or will go to actual relief efforts.

So two Houston athletes get well-deserved kudos from SI.

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Red’s NFL Picks – AFC South

The AFC South (once the division of excellence) is out of the woods this season and will not be the pathetic excuse for a professional football division that it has been for the last few years – despite the presence of the Jaguars.

Titans  Marcus Mariota is the best quarterback in this division. Sorry Andrew, Tom and whomever is starting for the Jaguars.  DeMarco Murray is the best running back in this division.  Titans have the best offensive line in this division.  Delanie Walker (decidedly a late bloomer) may be the best tight end in this division.  The wider receivers – eh!  But you can’t have it all.  The defense is just good enough to keep the Titans close in a lot of games.  If the ball bounces the Titans’ way this season, then they just might post the best record in the NFL.  Everyone will know after week 3 if the Titans are for real. If the Titans beat the Raiders in the opener and the Seahawks two weeks later (both home games), the buzz will be incredible as they roll into Houston on week 4.  Red can hear the bees humming now.  After dispatching the Texans, the schedule gets much easier with only three potential playoff teams (Stealers, Cardinals and Texans) on the schedule.   Titans stun the league with a 13-3 record and stroll to AFC South title.

Texans  The Texans have a great defense.  Not 84 Bears great, but possibly top twenty all time great if they force 30+ turnovers and have 50+ sacks this season.  And contrary to the public perception, it’s not all JJ Watt.  Red is suffering from a bit of JJW fatigue as heretical as that may sound.  Clowney and Whitney Mercilus (Red’s favorite) are the keys this year.  They both had tremendous seasons last year playing mostly without JJW.  Imagine what they can do when an offensive line has to focus on the big Wisconsinite as well.  The linebacking crew is solid enough and the secondary will miss Bouye but is good enough to hold coverage long enough to force opposing quarterbacks to make bad decisions.  But then there is the other side of the ball.  If the Texans can muster even a mediocre offense, they will be in a lot of games.  Red fears mediocrity may be an unreachable goal with either Savage or rookie DeShaun Watson under center and slim pickings at wideout.  Rookie D’Onta Foreman may be a force if not injured and Fiedorowizc may be moving up to elite TE status.   But may Red just say, he hopes Watson does not see serious action until late in the season.  In fact, Red will predict right now that DW will not take over until the mid-way in the Rams game in Week 10 with the 4-4 Texans trailing the Rams with the season on the line.  If Watson can right the ship at that point, the Texans have a chance to sneak into the playoffs.  But somewhere along the way, they are going to have to beat a good team.  Best chances will be at home against the Stealers or Cardinals.  Texans are 9-7 and slip under the door as the last wildcard team.

Jaguars  Can Tom Coughlin resuscitate the long dormant Jaguars? It seems like ancient history now, but when Coughlin was at the helm at the dawn of the franchise, the Jaguars surprised the football world by playing in the AFC championship game in their second season.  He made the playoffs the next 3 seasons as well – again playing for and losing the AFC title in season 5.  Since then, 3 winning seasons and no playoff victories.  By comparison, the Texans are entering their 16th season and have yet to make it past the second round of the playoffs in their 4 playoff appearances and a current 9 year playoff drought.  Coughlin has tidied up if not cleaned house with 5 new assistant coaches, multiple free agent acquisitions on defense and picking up LSU back Leonard Fournette with the 4th pick of the draft.  But under center is still Blake Bortles.  Red bet big on BB last season and doesn’t really want to talk about it. In his 4th season, BB had better show signs of life or accept his fate as a back-up quarterback.  The Jags are mediocre at best.  But after a 3-13 campaign in 2016, mere mediocrity may be viewed as a triumph.  Jacksonville goes 8-8.

Colts  Who are the Colts anymore anyway?  Red has no clue with the multiple roster changes since last season..  Unfortunately for the Colts neither does head coach Chuck Pagano who has seemed in over his head at times during back to back 8-8 seasons in a division that the Colts used rule like kings of old.  And speaking of old – there’s tired old Frank Gore who probably used up whatever was left in the tank last season when he became the first running back to rush for 1000 yards since John Riggins (OTNAs 1984).  Maybe the news gets any better on defense only because it really couldn’t get worse for the league’s 30th ranked defense.  A whole new linebacking corps led by Barkevious Mingo may help, but beyond Vontae Davis the secondary will likely remain porous.  The whole thing turns on the reappearance of Andrew Luck and that is not a good sign.  Luck at his best with a lot of fearsome weapons was not that good.  A more average Luck with little to work with could be plain awful.  But Luck is the Colts best chance to avoid ignominy this season. Maybe Punter Pat McAfee had it right.  After a nice 8 year career (including two Pro Bowl appearances) he hung up the cleats to try his had at stand-up comedy.  There will be laughs this season, but they’ll be laughing at the Colts not with them.  Indianapolis 2-14.

Red’s 2017 NFL Predictions – the Annual Bitch Portion Thereof

Well it’s time for Red’s Annual Bitch about the favorable TV treatment afforded the Hated Arlington Cowboys franchise.  Hang on to your Stetsons.

 If for some unfathomable reason you are a Cowboys fan, most Sundays you can sleep late, linger over brunch, get in 18 holes, have an under-the-covers nap (aka siesta tradicional) and still be back in the recliner with nachos in hand in time for kickoff. It’s even better this season than usual for all you HAC fans.  All Red can say is – at least your team made the playoffs last season  and there is some slight justification for having a reasonable share of games on National TV – but nothing justifies this:

Week 1       Giants Sunday Night Game

Week 2       At Broncos Sunday Late Game

Week 3       At Cardinals Monday Night Game

Week 5       Packers Sunday Late Game

Week 7       At 49ers Sunday Late Game

Week 8       At Redskins Sunday Late Game

Week 9       Chiefs Sunday Late Game

Week 10     At Falcons Sunday Late Game

Week 11     Eagles Sunday Night Game

Week 12     Chargers Thanksgiving Late Game

Week 13     Redskins Thursday Night Game

Week 14     At Giants Sunday Late Game

Week 15     At Raiders Sunday Night Game

Week 16     Seahawks Sunday Late Game

So adding it all up, the Cowboys get:

3 Sunday Night games

8 Sunday Late Games with only 49ers and Broncos as time zone related

1 Monday Night Game

1 Thursday Night Game (mandatory)

And the traditional Thanksgiving game

For a grand total of 14 national TV appearances. That is well above the standard 11 national TV appearances that the league regularly doles out to America’s Team.

And if you are a fan of the hapless Texans (who have actually won more playoff games in the time of their miserable existence than the Cowboys have during that period) you had better plan ahead and expect that the games will totally mess up your Sunday afternoon plans.

Week 2       At Bengals Thursday Night Game

Week 5       Chiefs Sunday Night Game

Week 8       At Seahawks Sunday Late Game

Week 10     At Rams Sunday Late Game

Week 12     At Ravens Sunday Night Game

Week 16     Stealers Sunday Late Game

That’s 6 national TV appearances which is better than the usual schedule but only because of 2 west coast games against the Seahawks and Rams and the mandatory Thursday night game.

Red calls Bullshit.

 

No Mo’ Romo (cont.)

ESPN is reporting that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will retire and take up a career in broadcasting.  This means that all of Houston can let out a collective sigh of relief (or cry of agony as the case may be).  Red for one is glad that the Texans will not fall for the trap of signing a tired, old Tony Romo to be their starting QB for what would likely be 3 games before he goes down for the season.   The idea that TR was the answer to the Texans’ quarterback problem always struck Red as ludicrous.  Romo had a track record of near abject failure in the playoffs and to think that would change in Houston was a pipedream.

Dallas is expected to designate Romo as a post-June 1 release, softening the blow against the Cowboys’ cap this season. Instead of counting $24.7 million in 2017, Romo would count $10.7 million this year and $8.9 million in 2018. The Cowboys would gain $14 million in cap space, but it would not become available until June 2. But after Tuesday, Romo will no longer be with the Cowboys.

Romo’s decision came down to his health, sources close to the situation told ESPN. Romo, who turns 37 on April 21, believes his family and his health are paramount at this time in his life. He was limited to playing in just parts of five games over the past two seasons because of collarbone and back injuries, and he suffered a compression fracture in his back last August that led to him ultimately giving way to Dak Prescott.

The upside for Red is that Romo is rumored to replace addled and incoherent Phil Simms in the booth next to overrated and annoying Jim Nantz.   Nothing would make Red happier than TR having to put up with prima donna Nantz and his smarminess on 18 weekends next season.

We Still Have Brock Osweiler to Kick Around

Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler continues to be the poster boy (perhaps whipping boy would be a better description) for bad decisions at that position by NFL teams.  Sporting News disses the prospects for Tampa Bay backup quarterback and free agent Mike Glennon by claiming that he would be a worse deal for any team than even the much-maligned Osweiler.  Red for his part thinks the book is still out on the Tall Texan.  BO performed decently when the pressure was on in the last game of the season and in the playoffs.  Playing behind a makeshift line and without several of his best receivers, Osweiler’s numbers in those games were not terrible – merely low mediocre.  Even the playoff game against the Patriots was still within reach in the 4th quarter despite terrible special teams and lackluster (other than forcing 3 TO’s) defensive play.  Yes, BO threw up some INT’s during desperation time, but the Texans were not out of it until the defense gave up 10 points in the 4th quarter.  Still, SN piles on in its argument that Glennon is a toxic commodity – or at least an overpriced one.

Move over, Brock Osweiler. Mike Glennon is about to get a lot more fool’s gold in NFL free agency than you did.  File Glennon as the latest unlikely young veteran poster boy of the league’s most quarterback-needy teams. At 6-6, 225, he isn’t as big or tall as Osweiler, but he might be a bigger bust for whoever signs him, even at a little less the price.

A general recent rule is whatever the Texans do at quarterback, don’t follow. Houston got tired of going the Fitzpatrick-Hoyer route in consecutive seasons, so it panicked and tried to solve QB long-term with Osweiler. That was an extremely expensive backfire.

Congratulations Mr. Mercilus

The appropriately named Whitney Mercilus was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.  Mercilus, the Texans OLB, was indeed merciless against the Bears on Sunday. Mercilus recorded four tackles,  two sacks, two quarterback hits, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble in Houston’s 23-14 season-opening victory.

Mercilus is an interesting guy to boot.  The University of Illinois graduate of Haitian descent has taken an interest in his adopted city and loves classical music.  Lots of NFL players have so-called foundations which are frequently just a way to pay for a party, but the Mercilus Foundation seems to be the real deal.  According to Mercilus, the focus of the MF “is helping underprivileged families raising kids with disabilities.  It’s what I studied in college – Community Health Disability and Rehabilitation Concentration – essentially helping disabled people with home accommodations, home living, work space, transportation and more.” Expect big things from Mercilus on and off the field.

Red’s NFL Picks – Week 2

Last week Red was 2-4  and most embarrassingly missing out on the Sure Bet of the Week in picking the Panthers to cover the spread and going with the over. That Timmy – is why you should not try this at home.  Leave it to the professionals who can afford to lose their lunch money – like old Uncle Red.  Face it, Red had a bad week but still was oh so ever close to “drinking coffee and smoking fine cigars” ala Johnny Cash.  The Panthers, Jaguars, Lions and Cardinals lost games by a collective 11 points and sank Papa Red’s first week.

Sure Bet Pick of the Week – Seahawks over Rams. After last week, Red is only going out on a really strong limb that is supported by a steel column driven firmly into the bedrock.  The Hawk are only giving up 6.5 on some books – which seems like a steal.  But Red is getting “NL” from a few sources – meaning blow out coming.  Red is indifferent about a 38.5 over under.  Take the Seahawks and give up to 9.5 points – but no more.  Seattle 28 Los Angeles 9.

Underdog Pick of the Week – Buccaneers over Cardinals. Four touchdown drives of over 75 yards have Red believing. Four touchdown passes to four different targets has Red believing. The Doug Martin-Charles Sims tandem has Red believing.  Then Red remembers it was a win over the Falcons.  Fortunately, Red is pretty good at that whole “willing suspension of disbelief” thing.   History says that this will be a close game.  History lies.  Tampa Bay 31 Arizona 17.

Rivalry Game Pick of the Week – Bengals over Stealers [sic].  When they last met the “Stealers” lived up (or down as the case may be) to their name when they stole a playoff win from the Bengals.  In reality, the Bengals’ loss was self-inflicted with incredibly stupid penalties by Vontaze Burfict and Adam (formerly PacMan) Jones allowing the Stealers a chance at a last second field goal to win.  SI had the headline right – “Bengals lose all control as all hell breaks loose in loss to Stealers.”  Red salutes SI as it is hard to use lose, loose and loss in one headline and actually get it right.  Bengals are back at full strength with Red Rifle at the helm. Stupidity is kept in check on Sunday in Steeltown.  Cincinnati 28 Pittsburgh 17.

Texas Franchise Pick of the Week – Texans over Chiefs.  Speaking of recent playoff humiliation – Red can’t really recall one worse than the 30-0 ass-whomping the Chiefs put on the Texans in January.  It looked like a Division 6A team playing a six-man squad.  There is no real reason to think that the Texans can compete with the Chiefs – even though Red has the Chiefs as the most overrated team in the league.  But a man can dream can’t he?  Houston 25 Chiefs 23.

Prime Time Pick of the Week – Vikings over Packers. This could be Red’s NFL Game of the Week.  Packers came out sharp in the first half of the Week 1 win over the Jaguars. The furious second half field goal fest (2 for each team for a total of 12 second-half points) showed that the Pack has some work left to do.  Meanwhile, the Vikings walked over the doormat Titans. No such scheduling luck this week.  Shaun Hill showed enough to hold on to the starter’s job for at least another week.  He surprises everyone this week by taking Player of the Week honors in a big win over the Pack.  Minnesota 27 Green Bay 24 .

Shit Bowl Pick of the Week – OTNA’s over Cowboys. The OTNA’s put a merciful bullet in the head of the Cowboy’s season when these two old rivals last met in January. Of course, the OTNA’s had something to play for.  They were 5-7 with four games to play after a humiliating loss to the Cowboys in Week 13.  But they rallied to win four in a row and the NFC East while averaging an incredible 33 points a game.  Much has changed since then, but the Cowboys still look like the dogs of the East.  Landover MD 35 Arlington 20.