Well, we have had our first organizational shakeup of the season in the NFL, as the Houston Texans have given Bill O’Brien the heave-ho. Romeo Crennel will take over the team on an interim basis, presumably for the rest of the season. And the matter closest at hand is a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, beginning at 1 PM ET at NRG Stadium.
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O’Brien had purportedly won a power struggle to take control of personnel matters as the general manager. But critics pointed to two moves – a trade of DeAndre Hopkins and a deal that brought in Laremy Tunsil in exchange for first-round draft picks – as proof of his failure in that regard. And when you start out 0-4, you don’t usually have a lot of leverage.
in addition, O’Brien encountered some disgusted players, namely franchise icon JJ Watt, who called the 31-23 loss to Minnesota last week “brutal” and “depressing,” and expressed that the team had to start doing something different. He also had some shouting matches with O’Brien on the practice field, according to reports.
O’Brien’s firing was recognized by some of the local media as an example of Cal McNair, son of Texans’ late founder Bob McNair, taking charge. Still up in the air is the exact role a mysterious figure named Jack Easterby played in this drama. Easterby, who may have misrepresented some items on his resume when he got the job as Executive VP, is the interim general manager. McNair says that he will wait until the end of the season to name a GM and coach, and that they will be different people.
In the NFL betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Texans are laying points, although that number has dropped:
Houston Texans -5
Jacksonville Jaguars +5
Over 54 points -110
Under 54 points -110
Whoever comes in as coach and / or GM will need to either get DeShaun Watson some protection, more weapons to work with, a dependable running game, or better quarterback coaching. Or all of those things. He has been sacked 16 times this season, and threw for only 16 first half yards against Minnesota.
There might be a more inviting defense this time around. The Jaguars allowed 505 yards to Cincinnati and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow last week, and they only sacked the kid once. Jacksonville has permitted opposing QB’s to complete 77% of their passes for 8.8 yards an attempt.
But Gardner Minshew is game, and he should have his full complement of receivers. That includes DJ Chark, as well as rookie Laviska Shenault, who’s had some explosive moments.
J-Ville managed just 15 points in two meetings with Houston last season. We are forecasting more success on their part here; the Texans have been absent defense for the most part, yielding 4.9 yards per rush and 71% completions themselves.
We know that bettors sometimes get carried away with immediate reactions to coaching changes. But you have to remember that Crennel, who has a 28-55 record as a head coach, hardly represents “new blood.” And this is the same coaching staff that has contributed to the Houston failure. We’ll stick with Jacksonville and the never-say-die Minshew over a Texans team that might be the product of a very dysfunctional atmosphere.
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