The Pyrite Problem

Over the last two weeks there has been a ton of debate over whether the Texans should have been tanking the last two weeks. Replace these two wins with two losses and we'd be in the driver's seat for the first overall pick. Instead, we are precariously situated with the third pick in the draft. Should the Texans sneak out with another win and we would likely fall out of the top five. It is easy to project a sky is falling scenario with such an end to the season. NFL draftniks fall in love with guys every year and most of the time those guys aren't going outside the top five in mock drafts.

I know culture is a dirty word at this point, but culture really is a thing. There is something to the idea of playing better as the year goes on. There is something to playing better when you're missing a lot of guys and when everyone has bumps and bruises. There is something to winning close games you normally wouldn't win. Also, it should be pointed out that when you look at the history of first round picks in Houston, you'd notice that the three number one overall picks didn't necessarily pan out. The third overall pick is a finalist to go into Canton.

So, my biggest fear isn't winning games at the end of the season. Winning games is always better than not winning games in the long run. The biggest fear becomes what becomes associated with winning games. It is something I call the Pyrite Problem. As most people know, Pyrite is more often referred to as "Fool's gold." It's also what we coaches say as "ignoring in victory what you would not ignore in defeat."

The best analogy is what most of us know as people getting older. You're feeling bad and you go to the doctor. Your biggest fear isn't that the doctor will find something wrong. Your biggest fear is that they won't. Your biggest fear is that whatever is hurting or not working will suddenly not hurt or work when you get there. That's what winning late games can do. It gives you the impression that you really aren't that far off. It gives you the impression that your offensive system is really beginning to work or the defensive system is a breath of fresh air.

At this point, it is harder and harder to justify firing David Culley. When you look at the team from a 100,000 feet level it looks like he'd done a good job. A 4-12 team went to battle without Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, and Will Fuller and somehow won the same number of games. Heck, they have two opportunities to win more games. Yet, the closer you get to the situation the worse it looks. You have crazy, stupid battles with veterans over culture. You have at least one game if not two surrendered because of mind numbingly stupid game management. You have at least one inane comment a week that really exposes just how inept this coach is.

So, you carry him on another year. Suddenly, the nightmare scenario plays out. You keep not only David Culley but you also keep Tim Kelly. You keep the same offensive system that produced the worst offense in the league for most of the season. You keep the same offense that somehow had the best performance of the season with maybe three or four starters available. You keep the same blocking schemes that played it's best game with only one starter. That kind of realization cuts both ways. Sure, on the positive side you can say you're such a good coach that you can play your best football with a bunch of practice squad guys.

On the negative end, why aren't your regulars capable of playing like that? It creates a situation where you have to ask some pretty tough questions. Is it a case where the organization made a ton of mistakes when they selected or acquired these guys? It is a case where the system that is in place doesn't fit the guys you have? Naturally, the combination of those two possibilities is the likely answer. These are questions that sometimes don't even get asked when you finish strong. They need to be asked just the same even if the answers aren't satisfactory.

So, whether you select first, third, or sixth is not really the issue. If you know what you're doing you'll find a good football player you can use. If you make a Deshaun Watson trade and/or Laremy Tunsil trade then you will likely add at least four to five more players that can contribute right away. Who knows, if you hit on some lower round picks it could be even more. That still doesn't answer the question of whether this head coach or this offensive staff is in any position to develop them. Winning games at the end of the year doesn't necessarily answer those questions. Either way, they still need to be asked.