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Houston, We Don’t Have A Problem


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“We suck”

Those are the words Andre Johnson uttered following the Texans 13-6 loss to the Jaguars this past Sunday. Frankly, he’s right.

But I’m not here to tell you how bad the Houston teams are and have been the last few years. I’m 21-years old and have yet to actually witness a Houston Championship (not counting the Dynamo). I was just 2 and 3 when the Rockets won the title and barely have memories of Hakeem Olajuwon. My earliest memories of the Astros are in the late 90’s and the Texans have been with me since their birth.

It’s been a long and hard journey for me as a sports fan. Yes, the Dynamo have won multiple championships since their debut in the MLS, but I can’t admit to being a hard-core Dynamo fan. I root for them and watch them when I can, but like most in America, the MLS and the Dynamo aren’t a huge part of me yet. One day.

Being an Astros fan has brought some joy in my middle school days but it’s been a tough go the last few seasons. The days of Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, and Roy Oswalt are long gone and instead we’ve been “treated” with the likes of J.D. Martinez, Jordan Lyles, and Brett Wallace over the last few seasons.

Has it been rough? Heck yea! It’s been brutal. They have been the worst team for three straight seasons. It stinks. It hurts. But it helps knowing that this team is headed in the right direction.

Over the last several seasons both Ed Wade and Jeff Luhnow have made the correct moves to hopefully bring this franchise back to relevance. Once Drayton McLane finally realized that bringing in guys like Woody Williams, Jason Jennings, and Carlos Lee weren’t cutting it, he finally gave the okay to blow things up.

It started with the dealing of Astros icons including Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt. Eventually both Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence were also shown the road as the Astros continued to load up on prospects. Once the 2012 season finished, some thought the Astros were starting their ascent up the standings.

The argument last offseason was whether or not they should spend money in the offseason. I always thought the best thing for this franchise was to be the worst team again in 2013 and hope they could deal ANY veteran player for value.

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And that’s what the Astros did. Purposely? Who knows as the Astros claimed they thought they’d be somewhat competitive during Spring Training. However, things went sour early and it was clear that team was going nowhere. The Astros finished their final step in rebuilding by dealing all their “older” players that have value, and finished last in the MLB, thus assuring themselves the first overall pick for the June 2014 draft.

Now the Astros seem to have a future. They have several players already at the MLB level that can be quality players for the next contending team. What’s better is that they have the best farm system in baseball. Not only do they have seven top 100 prospects, but the depth all across the diamond is infinitely better than it was in 2008.

Houston, your baseball team is in great hands and seems to be on the rise over the next decade. Just entering the 2013 season, Jeff Luhnow had more players on Opening Day rosters than any other head of scouting in Major League Baseball. Now’s the time to jump on this bandwagon.

You could argue the Rockets were in a worse position than the Astros in October of 2012. The Rockets were three seasons into mediocrity. It seemed like they lived for the 14th overall pick. They were constantly the best team out of the playoffs. If there is something worse than being the worst team in the NBA it’s being the 9th seed in the Western Conference.

You can’t rebuild with the 14th overall pick. You can’t get better via the draft and your picks aren’t good enough to trade. Daryl Morey did the best he could in that situation and constantly traded assets for more assets. After swapping assets for more assets for three season, the wheeling and dealing finally paid off.

Just before the 2012 season, the Rockets took advantage of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s financial situation and Morey was able to deal a few assets for James Harden. Once James Harden signed a max-extension, the Rockets were finally out of “mediocre hell” and playoff bound.

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But Dayl Morey knew one superstar wasn’t going to cut it in today’s NBA. This past summer he was (finally) able to bring Dwight Howard to Houston, something he tried several times to achieve over the last few seasons. With Howard, the Rockets have arguably the best shooting guard and center in the NBA and they didn’t have to sacrifice a single asset to acquire the big fellow.

With the superstar combo, along with quality NBA starters like Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverley, and a great bench consisting of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik (both starters in 2012), the Rockets arrow seems to be pointing up.

And the Rockets may not be done altering their roster. Omer Asik has drawn interest across the NBA and I expect him to be dealt before the NBA trade deadline. Morey is always looking for opportunities to improve his roster and it’s clear the Rockets may still be a small piece or two away from defeating the NBA’s best.

Even with the exciting new Rockets roster, the Texans were supposed to be the talk of the town this late in November. Well, they still are, but it’s not for a good reason. As Andre Johnson said, they suck. They’re horrendous. They’re two strokes of luck from being 0-11.

It’s been a disaster of a season for all involved within the Texans organization. Head coach Gary Kubiak has had problems both with coaching the team and recent health issues. Matt Schaub has quarterbacked himself off the Texans once this season comes to a close. What else? More season ending injuries to key players, more terrible special teams play, and more poor discipline and execution. In a “Super Bowl or bust” season, this team is way past the “bust” mark. As John McClain (Houston Chronicle) would often tweet, “They’re Pathetic!”

But we all knew that. Do I think things will get better next season? Well, it’s hard for them not too. At 2-9, the Texans are the worst team in the AFC and will likely finish with a top 1-8 pick in April’s draft.

The Texans are all but certain to take a QB in this year’s draft. The good news is that this is the season to have a high pick for a quarterback. We’ve seen what a new quarterback can do to a team. Andrew Luck has vaulted the Indianapolis Colts to playoff contention, and Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Robert Griffin III have bettered their teams.

Will a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, or Johnny Manziel improve the Texans. I think so and they’ll have early picks in other rounds to plug other important holes.

The Texans have the talent to improve next season. It’s easy to compare them to last year’s Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were littered with talent, but weren’t able to put it all together and they finished the worst in the league. Now, the Chiefs are among the league’s best and the Texans can see a similar turnaround next season.

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Most of the Texans future rides on the shoulders of Owner Bob McNair. Will he decide to release Gary Kubiak of his duties? Once they decide on Kubiak, many other moves will fall into place.  Will Rick Smith decide to gut some “expendable” players such as Owen Daniels or Danieal Manning? It’s certainly possible we see a similar team next season with a new quarterback, but it’s also possible we see several familiar faces let go over the offseason.

One thing to me is clear, the Texans have sucked this season but the talent is there to have a bounce back season in 2014.

2013 was a really rough year for Houston fans. Nick Matthews, the sports editor of the Houston Chronicle, asked followers via Twitter what was the biggest win in the city of Houston in 2013. Sadly, most agreed the Texans playoff win on January 5th was the city’s biggest win in 2013.

But don’t worry Houston fans, the promise land may be closer than ever. The Astros are building a squad similar to that of the NL Champion Cardinals. The Rockets are championship contenders with a great combo of superstars, above average supporting cast, and great depth. The Texans should also rebound in 2014 from their disaster 2013 season.

Houston, We’ve Had A Problem, but happier times are ahead of us.