As much as the Houston Texans could have defeated the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens, did many neutral observers actually think they would?
Two days after the Houston Texans fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020 NFL season opener on Thursday Night Football, the Houston Rockets were sent packing from the NBA bubble on a Saturday night, eliminated 4-1 in their Western Conference Semifinals series by the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the waning minutes of the game, the announcers of the television broadcast began discussing then-head coach Mike D’Antoni’s future with the Rockets. As D’Antoni’s contract was set to expire, it was clear that speculation was already mounting as to whether or not he’d be returning to lead Houston next season (as it turns out, he will not).
Whatever you think of Mike D’Antoni and the Houston Rockets, one of the announcers brought up an interesting point on national television.
To paraphrase, he said something to the effect that yes, it certainly was disappointing for the Rockets not to advance past the Lakers to the Western Conference Finals. But, the announcer then argued, was anyone really that surprised?
After all, the Lakers were heavily favored to beat the Rockets… and not just the Rockets, but also many other teams in the playoffs. Los Angeles was (and is) a heavy favorite to win it all this year.
As such, while it’s certainly natural for Rockets fans, players, coaches, etc. to feel dejected or disappointed that they couldn’t upset the Lakers and advance, should D’Antoni really get penalized for something he wasn’t — technically-speaking — even expected to do?
The announcer’s point wasn’t that the Rockets couldn’t be the Lakers. His point was that they shouldn’t beat the Lakers, at least not in the minds of most neutral, rational observers, oddsmakers, and analysts who don’t have a rooting interest in the game.
Simply put, the Lakers are the better team this year.
He went on to apply this same logic to the Rockets teams of the past that fell at the hands of the Golden State Warriors dynasty.
Again, while it would have been awesome and unexpected for Houston to knock off the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and the rest of that star-studded lineup, no one really expected the Rockets to do so at the time.
After all, those Warriors teams won championships and made history.
Now, if the Rockets had fallen a round earlier this year to the Oklahoma City Thunder — the team they jettisoned Chris Paul to — that would have been a much different story, this announcer argued.
That would have been an example of an organization failing to live up to expectations, and that would have been the perfect opportunity and excuse to really question D’Antoni, Rockets GM Daryl Morey, and the whole Houston small-ball approach. If Houston loses that Game 7 to OKC, then maybe it’s only logical and appropriate that ‘heads should roll.’
The Texans can take a page from the Rockets in reacting to their 2020 start
The Houston Texans can look to their NBA brothers in the Rockets for inspiration as to how they might properly cope with and move forward from a disappointing start to their 2020 campaign.
After they were blasted 34-20 by the defending champs, the Texans lost their home opener in Week 2 to the Baltimore Ravens 33-16.
While Texans fans — and especially Texans players and coaches — decidedly have a right to be upset about the way they’ve played, it’s important to keep both of these losses in proper context.
After all, the Chiefs and the Ravens are the current class of the AFC. Taking bias and personal preference out of the equation, most level-headed NFL observers would rank both teams at the very pinnacle of not just the conference, but the league overall, in 2020.
The Ravens were the No. 1 seed last year. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl. Neither team suffered significant personnel losses in the offseason; on the contrary, both got even stronger through notable acquisitions in the draft and free agency.
Doesn’t it stand to reason then that the Texans would probably lose to both of them, especially this early in the year, and especially without the benefit of a preseason, a normal training camp, or a normal offseason overall?
The Texans underwent massive changes between 2019 and 2020. Their coordinators are different. Their star players on both sides of the ball are different.
Why would anyone think a team that’s still trying to figure all that out might be able to knock off arguably the two best teams in the NFL… especially when those two teams are even better this year than they were last year, and certainly more stable?
Again, none of this is to say that the Texans couldn’t beat the Chiefs or the Ravens.
Houston has played both squads tough at various times the past couple years, and the final result might be very different in January should the Texans get another crack at either one of them in the playoffs.
But for now, Houston fans should take solace in this optimistic — but also realistic — viewpoint regarding the true nature of their 0-2 start to the season.
The Texans have a lot of work to do, sure, but their losses to the Chiefs and Ravens shouldn’t be viewed as shocking or unexpected if we take personal bias out of the equation… and we should.