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O’Brien should get a pass, Rockets keep rolling, rat’s in the cradle and more: The Dec. 18 update

Let’s say you have one foot in a bucket of ice and another foot in a bucket of burning coal. Statistically, the two would cancel each other out and you would be fine.

Being a Texans follower this year is a lot like that two-bucket scenario. But it does not feel fine.

The Texans were fun to watch when Deshaun Watson was the quarterback, but they have been difficult to stomach after injury upon injury.

I have decided to make a positive out of it. The back-ups who are playing now and getting experience will be an important cog of next year’s team. Surely, the injury bug cannot be this bad next year. And with that thought in mind, when someone does get injured next season, another player who has gained experience this year will be able to step in with confidence.

That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I think the Texans will be glorious next year with Watson. I know that there will be more than one WR to throw to, which has been a problem for Tom Savage and T.J. Yates.

There will be help on the offensive line, and the defense will have quality players back. I still have my doubts about the DBs for next year.

That having been said, the roar from the crowd tends to be: Get rid of either coach Bill O’Brien, or GM Rick Smith, or both. And: The team is laying down this year.

Just because a team loses is not necessarily a reflection on the coach or the GM (non-Cleveland category of the NFL). It looks to me like O’Brien didn’t have enough bullets for his gun. I think he should be given another year to see what he can do with a full team.

People turned on Gary Kubiak, and he later won a Super Bowl with Denver. When I was young, I remember fans turning on Dallas’ Tom Landry when they had not won a Super Bowl, and management stuck with him. His successes after that are well-documented.

But there also have been coaches who did not succeed in particular situations.

Is O’Brien a Kubiak or Landry? Or is he just a failed quarterback whisperer? I saw him open up the offense with Watson. I would like to see what he does with Watson next year. And then throw the bum out if that does not work.

Harden with hands up in colorHOT ROCKETS – Wow. The Rockets keep on winning. I wrote that they were hot last week, but now they have won 13 in a row. One recent win was against the Spurs, who play the game of basketball the way it should be. Should Houston lose one just to take the pressure off? <sarcasm font>

RAT PATROL – So, there I was working in my home office a few days ago at 5:45 p.m. just after it had just turned dark, and I heard noise in the kitchen. I thought it was my dog, Willie, shredding a napkin with his mouth. He holds the napkin between his paws and tears the napkin into even strips with his mouth (one of his favorite things to do that annoys me the most). Then, I slowly realized that I heard my dog growling at the back door. I walked to him and saw that he was mad at a bird that had invaded his outside airspace.

So I slowly shuffled into the kitchen and looked around. There in the trashcan that was filled to the top with refuse was a rat. The rat had opened the flip-top and was literally swimming among the trash, going up and down like a world-class breast stroker. He was about six inches long, plus another five inches with the tail. I’m sure there are bigger rats somewhere, but a rat that big looks huge when you first see it in your own home.

Normally, I would retreat and live to fight another day, but instead I got angry. In fact, I was pissed. I WAS giving a rat’s ass. Why was this rat swimming gaily in my trash?

I tried to grab the rat’s tail and flick it against the opposite wall – a sort of Death To The Invader, Genghis Khan-meets-Bruce Lee move. But the rat moved around to where it could see me, putting his tail out of reach. (Upon reflection, that move could have been one of the worst decisions I had made in my life, if not the worst, if the rat had has own form of Rat Lee move and bit me.)

In the meantime, my dog has stopped making noise, so I called to him to come and assist in the Great Rat War of 2017. I called loudly. All right, I was yelling my head off. However, Willie is 15 in human years, and his hearing isn’t what it used to be. And neither is his smell. As an Irish Terrier, he has tracked and killed several rats in my back yard in the past, but failed to notice this one. He apparently was too busy threatening birds.

I grabbed a skillet from the stovetop and looked at the rat. He looked at me. The music from the grave scene in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly starts to play in my head.  Tuco, Blondie and Angel Eyes all look at each other while an out-of-tune guitar plays four notes over and over and over, until a trumpet blasts out a refrain. And then the out-of-tune guitar starts to play again as the actors look at each other – a combination of fear and loathing.

And so it was that the rat, as our eyes never left each other. It literally was almost a 10-minute stare-down. So I decide to do something: I kick the trash can. The rat does nothing. I kick the trash can a second time, again calling for Willie to help with the rat-killing.

Like Usain Bolt, the rat jumps out of the trash can and speeds toward an opening at the bottom of the dishwasher. The open space is literally a quarter of an inch wide. I fall to my knees and slam the skillet to the floor, and even though I aimed in front of the varmit, I wasn’t even close to hitting him – or even his tail. He was that fast. The rat also was fat. I thought, dang, what if it was a pregnant female? What if I had squashed the babies out of the female rat with a direct hit? Yuck.

The rat slams into the small opening and – boom – is gone behind the dish washer and into the wall. I slam the skillet on the ground again, hoping that (s)he thought I missed him/her on purpose and would think that there was more rat-hating, floor-slamming where that came from. I think my ruse worked as I haven’t seen the rat since.

I called an exterminator, and he said that the rat has plenty of room next to the bottom of the dish washer to move about. We put out traps.

He asked me if I knew the difference between a rat and a mouse, and I said no, other than the obvious size difference. The exterminator said “about 15 cents.” I was confused so he went on with his explanation. A rat can get into a space that is as big as a quarter, and a mouse can get into a space as big as a dime, he said. So the difference between mouse and a rat is 15 cents.

I didn’t laugh. I was thinking how many new, improved Irish terriers I would need if a family of mice decided to make my home their winter dwelling.

ROMO UPDATE – As a person who made fun of Tony Romo when he was a quarterback for Dallas, and put up my fair share of anti-Romo memes, I have one confession to make. Romo is pretty good when it comes to announcing football games on TV. But if you tell anyone I said it, I will deny it.

Die Hard-Hans Gruber fallingNATIONAL FILM REGISTRY – I have chronicled here that I have loved the Superman concept since I was a wee child. It gives me great joy to see that the Superman movie has been selected to join the national film registry. Titanic, not so much. And of course, it is not Christmas until I see Hans Gruber falling from the Nakatomi Building in Los Angeles. 

CLASSIC NOTES – The Trio/Il Treillo, Ennio Morricone, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Music to stare at rats by.

QUOTE OF THE DAY – “I’ve learned that something constructive comes from every defeat.” – Tom Landry



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