Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on the Texans Losing the Number One Overall Draft Pick

Nick Caserio is probably far less concerned over falling one spot in the draft than fans are.
Nick Caserio is probably far less concerned over falling one spot in the draft than fans are. Photo by Jack Gorman
If you're trying to summarize the race for the top pick in the NFL Draft, particulately in the aftermath of Sunday's 32-31 Texans victory over the Colts, I believe it is best encapsulated by Rosie Perez in the movie "White Men Can't Jump" — "Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win."
Whether it's Lucas Oil Stadium or the now defunct Hoosierdome, the city of Indianapolis has largely been a house of horrors for the Texans, with just four wins now in 21 tries. So you would think a last minute win on a Hail mary of sorts would be cause for celebration, right?

WRONG.

That Texans win set off a wave of vitriol within the fan base that, in recent years, can only be rivaled by the tsunami of anger that enveloped the city in the aftermath of the DeAndre Hopkins trade. That wave of vitriol was so bad that we forgot about COVID shutdowns for about two or three days. That was bad. This was close. Fans, as it turns out, REALLY like the idea of having the top pick in the draft, even if the consolation prize is literally the second pick, just one spot down.

For what it's worth, players and coaches could not care less about the draft slotting ramifications of game outcomes. Lovie Smith said as much following Sunday's game:
Four more thoughts on the improbable comeback that doused the hope of Texan fans' in lighter fluid:

How improbable was the last minute comeback?
I think this might be what irks Texans fans so much about losing the number one overall pick from this game's outcome — not that the Texans won, but that they won by doing things that not only have THEY not done all season, but NO TEAM IN THE NFL has done all season. For example, no team in the NFL all season had converted two fourth downs of 10 or more yards in a single game all season. The Texans did it twice in one series. The win probabilities for the Texans at the time of each fourth down were 7.12 percent on the 4th and 12 near midfield, and 6.79 percent on the 4th and 20 that resulted in the winning touchdown. On top of that, the Texans converted a two point conversion for the win — something they'd done at a 20 percent clip all season.

The worst thing about this win was its total lack of significance
The other understandably infuriating thing about the win over the Colts was there was no significant foundational effect from the win. What I mean by that is that the win would have been easier to stomach if there had been a more formidable opponent or if the players making the winning plays were part of this team's future. But this was a win over a downtrodden, pathetic Colts outfit coached by a guy who was broadcasting two months ago, and the Texans' most valuable player on Sunday was arguably Brandin Cooks, who quit on the team midseason when they refused to trade him. There's NOTHING inspiring about that.

If you're going to blame someone, blame upper management
That said, I can't blame the players for playing hard, nor the coaches for doing whatever it takes to win. That's their job, and they put a ton of time into preparing for each game, even if it doesn't always look that way for the Texans. If there are any fingers to be pointed for not giving the Texans an optimal chance to lose the game in a gentlemanly fashion, it's upper management (Nick Caserio, perhaps ownership) for having the team's best players and starting QB activated for the game. If you want the blueprint on how to tank a game in a respectable way, go look at the Bears lineup on Sunday. They had their third string QB in the game by halftime.

Nick Caserio may not really like Bryce Young, or C.J. Stroud for that matter
The one public service announcement I would give to any of you that are losing sleep over picking second and not first is actually a two pronged announcement. I'm assuming most of you are distraught over possibly losing out on Bryce Young, the Alabama quarterback. First of all, we don't even know if Nick Caserio LIKES Bryce Young. Keep in mind, Young weighs less than 200 pounds, and Caserio is a well known advocate for "prototypes" with high picks. Young is far from a prototype. Second, Chicago, presumably out of the QB market with Justin Fields in the fold, may not be able to trade out of hat first pick and they'll likely take Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson or Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. It all may still work out, Texan fan!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast