Thursday, December 30, 2010

Will It Be Kubiak & Phillips In 2011?

 It is starting to look like Gary Kubiak will be back as head coach of the Texans next season and Wade Phillips may be hired as the defensive coordinator.

On Monday most everyone was thinking Kubiak would be fired after this weeks game against the Jaguars. Then on Wednesday Bum Phillips was at Texans practice and spoke to the media about coach Kubiak saying he thinks Gary is the right man for the job. He was impressed with the way the Texans were practicing considering they have been eliminated from the playoffs.

Bum is a legend in Houston and this endorsement could be a sign that Kubiak will be back and that Bums son Wade could be hired as early as next week to be the next Texans defensive coordinator. Wade was fired as the Cowboys coach this season but has a great track record as a defensive coordinator in the NFL.

Wade was on the Oilers coaching staff under his dad Bum in the late 70's and early 80's and Gary Kubiak was a ball boy at that time for the Oilers. Wade is considered a 3-4 coach and could mean that if this happens the Texans could switch to a 3-4 next season.

This is all speculation right now but if this happens I think it will be a good move for the Texans. They play the Jaguars Sunday to end the season and soon after we will find out if Kubiak will return and if Wade will be hired.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oilers @ Bills January 3, 1993

The date of January 3, 1993 is a date that Houston sports fans will never forget. I had just turned 17 and lived and died with the pro sports teams in Houston. Died a little in 1986 when the Astros lost game six to the Mets and died a lot on January 3, 1993 when the Oilers played the Bills in the wild-card game in Buffalo. The game has since been referred to as "The Comeback" as the Bills rallied from a 32-point deficit to beat the Oilers in overtime, and remains the largest comeback in NFL history.

The Bills were the two time defending AFC champions, and recorded an 11-5 record during the 1992 regular season finishing in second place in the AFC East. Buffalo's no-huddle offense led the league in rushing yards and ranked second in the league in total offensive yards.

The Oilers finished second in the AFC Central with a 10-6 record. The Oilers run & shoot offense led the league in passing and the defense was third in the league. The Oilers had nine pro bowl selections, including their quarterback Warren Moon and three receivers.

The Bills and Oilers had faced each other in the final game of the regular season, with the Oilers winning 27-3 in Houston. Bills quarterback Jim Kelly strained his knee ligaments in this game and backup Frank Reich finished the game in his place. Reich would start the following week at home against the Oilers in the wild-card round.

The Oilers dominated the game early, as quarterback Warren Moon completed 19-22 passes for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half. Moon threw 2 touchdown passes to Haywood Jeffires and Curtis Duncan and Webster Slaughter caught one each. The Oilers went to the locker room with a 28-3 halftime lead.

Frank Reich started the second half by throwing an interception off the hands of his tight end and into the arms of defensive back Bubba McDowell, who returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. The Oilers now had a 35-3 lead minutes into the third quarter. The Bills had now lost star running back Thurman Thomas for the remainder of the game.

The Bills got great field position on the ensuing kickoff, driving 50 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown to make it 35-10. Steve Christie then recovered his own onside kick and the Bills would score on the fourth play of the drive to make it 35-17 with a little over 7 minutes left in the third quarter.

Houston was then forced to punt for the first time and the Bills once again had great field position at the their own 41 yard line. Frank Reich would then go to carving the Oilers defense up with a 20-yard screen pass and a 26 yard touchdown pass to Reed to make it 35-24.

The first play of the Oilers ensuing possession, Warren Moon threw an interception to Bills safety Henry Jones and returned it 15 yards to the Houston 23-yard line. Reich then threw an 18 yard touchdown pass to Reed on fourth down and five to cut the lead to 35-31.

The Oilers then moved down the field and attempted a field goal but the holder fumbled the snap and Buffalo recovered at their own 26-yard line. The Bills marched down the field and Reich threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Reed, giving the Bills a 38-35 lead with about three minutes left to go in the game. The Bills had rallied from 32-points down to take the lead for the first time.

Warren Moon then led the Oilers down the field on a 63-yard drive to get the game tying field goal and send the game to overtime 38-38.

Houston won the coin toss but on third down Moon threw an interception to Nate Odomes. The Bills ran the ball 2 times then Steve Christie kicked a 32-yard field goal to give the Bills a 41-38 victory.

The Bills won the next two AFC playoff games to advance to their third of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Rockets Finding Their Identity

 The Rockets started the season 0-5 and was 5-12 before they began to get it together on both ends of the floor. They were trying to work Yao Ming back in the rotation playing only twenty four minutes a game and not playing back to back nights. Aaron Brooks went down with an ankle injury and they had no defense what so ever especially in the 4th qtr.

Tonight the Rockets come into the game against the Washington Wizards 14-15 with a chance to get back to .500 before the Heat game. Aaron Brooks has been back the last few games and Yao is out for the season but it looks as if they are figuring out their identity. It is never good to lose a player like Yao Ming but with his limited playing time before his recent setback it seemed it was hurting the team. It now seems since they know he is out for the season that they are starting to find their chemistry on both ends of the floor.

Kevin Martin and Luis Scola have been the rocket fuel for this team this season averaging about 23 points a piece for the season.

The Rockets are a good team that is fun to watch and though they are not yet a championship contender they are a contender for the playoffs. There is a lot of basketball left to be played this season and they could be just one player away from being a championship contender with the pieces they have now.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Astros Trade Matt Lindstrom

 The Houston Astros are trying to improve the team and save payroll this off season, have traded Matt Lindstrom to the Rockies on Thursday. Matt Lindstrom was due a big raise through arbitration and the team bullpen has a lot of depth and they felt that was an area they could save.

The Astros sent righty Matt Lindstrom to the Rockies for two minor league prospects, righty Jonnathan Aristil and lefty Wes Musick who are both 24 years old.

Aristil is a converted infielder who pitched at all three minor league levels last season.

Wes Musick is from Lufkin, Texas and was drafted by the Astros in the 46th rd of the 2005 draft but chose to attend the University of Houston and was among the Conference USA pitching leaders in most categories in 2008.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Astros Sign Bill Hall

  The Astros have reached an agreement with free agent Bill Hall on a one year deal on Friday. Hall played last season in Boston and batted .247 with 18 home and 46 RBIs in 119 games between left field, second base, right field, center field, shortstop and third base. Hall is a .250 career hitter with 122 career homers. It appears Hall will be the starting second baseman and move Keppinger back to the utility role if he is not traded.

The Astros last month traded for shortstop Cint Barmes and now with the addition of Bill Hall have solidified the offensive fire power in the middle infield positions. The Astros had a combined 9 homers last season from those positions and ranked among the worst in the National League.

The Astros went in to the off season needing to upgrade shortstop and second base and with the team being for sale and having a tight payroll they have done just that. These additions aren't big names but they are good deals that will significantly upgrade the offense.

Last season they signed Brett Myers to a similar deal and he turned out to be their best pitcher and got a contract extension. The acquisition of Barmes and Hall could have the same impact on the team in 2011 and if that happens they will have a much better team in an unpredictable NL Central.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rockets Road Woes Continue

The Houston Rockets were in Oklahoma City tonight to play the Thunder after defeating the Kings last night at home. The Rockets have struggled on the road this season and tonight was no different losing to the Thunder 117-105. The lost drops their road record to 3 -11 this season while going 7 - 4 at home.

The Rockets leading scorers were Kevin Martin with 22 points and Luis Scola who
added 18 points and 5 rebounds. The Rockets shot 46 percent from the floor.

The Thunder shot 57 percent from the floor and were led by Kevin Durant with 32 points. The Thunder made 28 of 29 free throws and out rebounded the Rockets 41-28.

The Rockets are allowing the opponents to shoot a high percentage to often this season and when they play better teams like the Thunder they are unable to overcome it. They acquired Terrence Williams from the Nets today for a future 1rst rd draft pick as part of a three team trade. In a separate trade, they sent Jermaine Taylor to the Kings and cash considerations for a conditional 2nd rd pick in 2011 draft.

These are early moves that could set up a bigger move down the road as the Rockets might be looking to stack young talent to be traded for a superstar quality player. Time will tell but its obvious the front office is working hard trying to get the right mix of players.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Night Football

The Texans get the Ravens tonight on MNF needing a win to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. They find themselves in the same situation they have been in the last four seasons with a 5 - 7 record needing to win the last four and hope they get help from other teams. The last couple seasons they have finished 3 - 1 in 2008 and 4 - 0 last season and missed the playoffs.

 The Ravens have jumped out to an early 7 -0 lead after the first qtr as the Texans defense was unable to get a big stop on the Ravens scoring drive and gave up another conversion on 3rd and long. Then Brian Cushing was called for pass interference at the goal line that set up the touchdown.

The Texans offense haven't been able to get anything going as Matt Schaub started 0 - 5 passing against a tough Ravens defense. Arian Foster has started fast again running the football but unless they make some plays through the air its just a matter of time before the Ravens shut him down. If the Ravens are unable to stop him than the Texans defense will by giving up another touchdown.

The Ravens have just scored again as Joe Flacco throws a touchdown pass to Derrick Mason from nine yards out. The Ravens offense has moved the ball down the field with ease against Houston and are getting the ball back with a 14 - 0 lead.

The game is not over by any means but its looking more and more like another Texans lost. The defense came up with stop on defense but Schaub gave it right back to Baltimore with an interception. The same things keep happening to this team and that is why they will not make the playoffs.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Astros Winter Meetings

 The Houston Astros have been trying to upgrade the team at this weeks winter meetings but have not been able to make any significant moves.

Thursday they announced they signed former Mariner left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith to a one year contract pending a physical. Smith a 27 year old lefty is 12 - 17 in four seasons with a 4.57 era in 115 games, 47 as a starter. Smith is an Australian who had a solid 2008 and 2009 season before going 1 - 10 last season with a 6.75 era. He will compete for the 5th starter spot.

The Astros also selected two pitchers in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, Aneury Rodriguez from the Rays and Lance Pendleton from the Yankees organization. Pendleton is a native of Houston and attended Rice. Rodriguez and Pendleton will invited to Spring Training and compete for the 5th starter spot. The Rule 5 players selected must remain on the active Major League roster next season or be offered back to the original club at half the original price of $ 50,000 dollars.

These moves are nothing major but will give them options for the 5th starter. They acquired Clint Barmes from the Rockies a few weeks ago to play short. I like this move a lot considering they gave up Paulino and his inconsistency for a guy who could hit 20 - 25 homers playing everyday at shortstop. They still would like to upgrade at second and could even trade Keppinger who has some value and or Matt Lindstrom to get more power from the position.

The Astros aren't expected to make a huge splash this winter because of the team being for sale but there are some things and possibilities out there to improve the team.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rockets Struggling

 The Houston Rockets continued to struggle Saturday night losing to the Chicago Bulls 119 - 116 in overtime. L. Scola led the Rockets with 27 points and 8 rebounds and Brad Miller had 20 points off the bench.

The Bulls were led by Derrick Rose with 30 pts and 11 ast. Carlos Boozer had his best game with the Bulls with 25 pts and 9 rebounds.

The Rockets haven't had any trouble scoring points this season but with Yao Ming being injured they lack that defensive presence he brings. When Yao does play they limit his minutes to 24 a game and doesn't play in back to backs. They are also playing without their starting point guard Aaron Brooks.

After 20 games the Rockets are just 7 - 13 playing in a tough western conference. The season is still early with time to turn it around but if they don't figure it out soon it will be time to start thinking about next year.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Defense Still Garbage

  The Texans suffered another heartbreaking defeat in Philly last night thanks to a 4th quarter collapse by the defense.

The Texans shutout the Titans Sunday but it was obvious against the Eagles that the Titans Rusty Smith was most of the reason for the shutout.

Michael Vick is no Rusty Smith and he showed the Texans if it looks like garbage and it smells like garbage than it must be the Texans defense.

Vick was hurried and hit the whole game but kept his cool and sliced the defense with his strong arm and smooth delivery while moving around the pocket just enough to avoid sacks. Vick threw for 302 yards 2 touchdowns and ran for another while being sacked just once.

The defense did a good job in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of putting pressure on Vick and forced an interception but when it came crunch time they had no answer for Vick's pinpoint delivery and poised pocket presence.The big play was a 3rd and 19 conversion for a first down and eventual touchdown late in the 4th.

The defense is bad and it will be the reason why the Texans 2010 season will be no different than any other Texans season of the past, no playoffs.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Texans Keys to Beat the Eagles

 Arian Foster is having a breakout year for the Texans and if they are going to make a playoff push they will need to get him the ball as much as possible. Foster had 30 carries for 143 yards and 9 catches for 75 yards in the 20-0 win over the Titans. That is 39 times that he touched the ball and allowed the Texans to control the clock and the game not to mention the chunk of yards he gets more often than not. If the Texans get him the ball 35-40 times they will win.

The Texans defense has played better the last two games but will have their hands full against the Michael Vick led Eagles. Vick is as good as any quarterback in the NFL this season with 13 TDs and 1 int. in just eight games. Glover Quin had three interceptions against the Titans and the Texans will need to come up with a turnover or two against a much better offensive team.

The Texans offense must protect the football, as the Eagles force a lot of turnovers with 19 int. and 8 forced fumbles. The Texans have not turned the ball over much, but the Eagles will be the best defensive opponent at forcing turnovers they have played since they played the Giants back in week five.

This is a big game for the Texans on the road in Philly and a win in this game would be a huge step if they are going to make the playoffs.