Kaz’s Korner

Joe Kazmar – For The Record

Despite the fact Major League Baseball is still in its first month of the new season, there has been much news the past couple of weeks about the National Football League’s master schedule of the 2016 season, several teams beginning their off-season conditioning program and the annual draft which begins next weekend.

As predicted, the Houston Texans cut last year’s starting quarterback Brian Hoyer after obtaining Brock Osweiler from the world champion Denver Broncos and signing him to a $72 million deal and then securing Brandon Weeden as his backup quarterback and signing him to a two-year, $4 million contract.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back occurred in the AFC Wild card Round when Hoyer threw four interceptions and added a lost fumble in that humiliating 30-0 loss to Kansas City. Team owner Bob McNair immediately wanted to upgrade the quarterback position.

Hoyer was an undrafted free agent from Michigan State who backed up New England Patriot’s Tom Brady, and had brief stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona and the Cleveland Browns.

He wasn’t a real bad NFL quarterback, completing 58.1 per cent of his passes in eight seasons, throwing for 38 touchdowns, 26 interceptions and an 82.2 quarterback rating.

And he put up solid numbers when he was healthy during last season with the Texans, playing in 11 games but suffered two concussions that sidelined him for a couple of games.

The Texans’ 2016 schedule appears to be at least as difficult as last year’s, but they will have a much higher profile with NFL fans this year because they are playing five prime-time night football games, probably because fans love to watch J. J. Watt do his thing on defense.

The Houston Chronicle beat writer points out that the Texans will be playing six teams who made the playoffs last season, including the World Champion Denver Broncos and the devious New England Patriots.

Houston begins the new season with a pair of home games against the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs and then play a Thursday Night game at New England. They return to NRG Stadium for their first division game against the Tennessee Titans. The Texans play five of their first eight games at NRG Stadium, have a bye week right in the middle of their schedule.

The most difficult part of their schedule begins with the second half of the season when Houston plays four of five games on the road. The Texans play only one home game during the crucial month of November. But the beat writer must see something in that schedule because he predicts the Houston Texans will finish the season 11-5!!!

The Texans and several other NFL teams began their off-season conditioning programs this week. Houston plans to work out at NRG Stadium.

Most of the general managers, owners and head coaches will be focusing on the 2016 NFL draft April 28-30 in Chicago.

The Texans apparently will be scrutinizing the available wide receivers with blazing speed like Notre Dame’s Will Fuller or Baylor’s Corey Coleman.

The Dallas Cowboys are searching for some help in the defensive backfield with Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey high on their list. The Pokes also might be in the market for a quarterback, with California’s Jared Goff mentioned pretty highly.

But the big talk the last week or so has been the blockbuster trade by the Los Angeles Rams to obtain Tennessee’s No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.

The Rams gave up the 15th overall pick, two second-round picks, a third-round pick and a first-round pick in the 2017 draft next year. It seems like an awful lot to give up, but I guess the Rams’ front office knows what they are doing.

As soon as the deal was done, all of the many mock draft gurus had the Rams selecting North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, a 6-5, 237-pound physical specimen.

Although Wentz led his team to two FCS championships and was impressive in the Senior Bowl, he hasn’t really faced the big-time competition of Division I.

KWICKIES…The Denver Broncos continue to rebuild their championship team. According to an ESPN report Monday afternoon, Denver had signed offensive lineman Russell Okung, who was a high draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks five years ago. However, Okung was hurt more than he was healthy.

And speaking of the Seattle Seahawks, several front office members and some players were complaining about their 2016 schedule being a “Cupcake Schedule.” That means they thought the opponents were weaker than in previous years. It looks like bulletin board material for the 16 opponents on the Seahawks’ schedule.

The Houston Chronicle is wondering what’s wrong with the Rockets in this first round of the playoffs. I’ll tell you what’s wrong. They are matched up with perhaps the best team in NBA history as their opponent—the Golden State Warriors. It would be a feather in their fedoras if they manage just one win in this playoff series.

Congrats to the West Orange-Stark Mustangs boys’ track team for winning last week’s District 24-4A track meet. The Mustangs rolled up 137 points to best Little Cypress-Mauriceville’s 122. The Lady Mustangs finished a distant second (127 points) to Hamshire-Fannett which compiled 163 points to win the girls’ division.

Little Cypress Mauriceville’s Lauren Cox was the Class 4A, Region III medalist for the second straight year, winning the individual golf title by a whopping 16 strokes at Raven’s Nest in Huntsville last week.  Miss Cox had rounds of 73 and 74—147. The Lady Bears earned a trip to the state tournament next week by finishing third behind Lufkin Hudson and Caldwell.

Also heading to the Class 4A state tournament at Onion Creek Club in Austin next week will be Bridge City’s Skylar Petroski, who finished in fifth place in the regionals with rounds of 77 and 75—152.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros won their first series of the young season by capturing two of a three-game series from the Detroit Tigers. Houston won the opener Friday night behind the five-hit pitching of lefty Dallas Keuchel, who looked like the Cy Young Award winner for 2015 as he captured a 1-0 victory over the Tigers. Detroit scored five times in the latter innings Saturday after the Astros jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. But the ‘Stroes won Sunday’s rubber match 5-4 to boost their record to 5-8.  Astros fans had better be on the lookout early this week as the team travels to Arlington for a three-game series against the Texas Rangers. This will be the only time to watch them on TV, thanks to Time Warner’s reluctance to make a deal with ROOT and the Astros to televise their games like they used to when they had losing teams.