Andre Johnson didn’t really want to be a Texan for a while and Ryan Fitzpatrick is Ryan Fitzpatrick.

There were plenty of reasons to doubt the Houston offense entering this season. Arian Foster’s not getting any younger, Andre Johnson didn’t really want to be a Texan for a while and Ryan Fitzpatrick is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Too bad for us haters and doubters; the Texans are 2-1, and they scored the lowest Spike Factor of Week 2 against the Oakland Raiders, finishing with a failure rate of just 20.31 percent.

The Texans were gracious enough to pass off their low-spike status to the New York Giants, their opponent in Week 3. Eli Manning’s crew gained yardage on all but 18.84 percent of the plays they ran, the best Spike Factor of last week and the lowest for this season so far. You get TWO scoops of rainbow sherbet after dinner, Eli.

Detroit, Minnesota and Carolina all stumbled to a Spike Factor north of 41 percent in Week 2, but because the Panthers were playing the Lions, by rule, both teams could not lose. Tampa and Denver joined them in that unpleasantly lofty territory in Week 3. These were not offensive performances to be proud of. And yet they don’t even come close to the saddest Spike Factor of the whole damn year.

First, let’s get last week’s highest Spike Factor out of the way: Miami, you had the worst performance in the league, failing to advance the line of scrimmage on 46.27 percent of the plays you ran. Disappointment, disgust, et cetera. The real action was in Week 2. Ready?

New England Patriots vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+3): I was actually tempted by the Chiefs at home, where Arrowhead Stadium can provide a strong home field advantage. The Patriots are not as good as they have been in the past, but I am still willing to take their history against the Chiefs. New England is 4-1 ATS in its last five games at Arrowhead Stadium, and 7-3 ATS in its last ten overall games against the Chiefs.4

The Pacers, at the same time, continue to pursue roster upgrades of their own

Barry Trotz, coach, Washington Capitals: “I think the buildings are probably better than they ever have been. The ice technology and what the NHL does is probably better than ever before. Probably the speed of the game, the technology of the game, the blades are a lot harder using different components, the skates are a lot stiffer, guys are digging in, they’re stronger. It’s sort of evolution. We’re a society that tends to complain about everything. It is what it is. Everybody wants a voice, everybody wants it perfect, and it’s not going to be. Life isn’t that way.”

NHL team senior executive: “We’ve discovered this with our own players. Ice seems bad when someone says it’s bad. When no one’s talking about it, no one notices it.”

Retired player, current Eastern Conference scout: “That’s a tough one. It looks like it varies from building to building. So many events going on in the arenas nowadays. I think it has some [negative] effect.”

Eastern Conference executive: “On one hand, the buildings are being used so much more for non-hockey events. But the NHL is also so much more cognizant of the engineering and technology that go into making the best ice possible. They are surely doing the best they can for the players’ safety and the game. It’s not a major issue, from what I hear.”

USA Today reported Wednesday that George recently met with Pacers owner Herb Simon to expound face-to-face on what he told ESPN’s Marc Stein last week during All-Star festivities on ESPN Radio: George still longs to lead Indiana to its first NBA championship but wants to know he is part of a title-contending roster before committing to a lucrative contract extension this summer.

Sources confirmed to ESPN in the wake of that meeting that Indiana has since invited teams such as the Lakers and Boston Celtics to make pitches for George in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. The Pacers, at the same time, also continue to pursue roster upgrades of their own, after ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported last week that the Pacers have made their first-round pick in the June draft available in trade conversations in hopes of strengthening George’s supporting cast.

 

NFL Combine 2016: Running back drills

The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine is in full swing, with the first group of prospects hitting the field for position drills on Friday. That group included special teamers, offensive linemen and tight ends. Saturday’s group features quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs.

That group arrived in Indianapolis on Wednesday and has gone through medical examinations, interviews, measurements and the bench press. Thirty-six of those players in action on Saturday are running backs, including big names like Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley and Duke Johnson.

But what kind of drills will they be going through? First, the running backs will go through the usual drills that most players experience, including the 3-cone drill, 40-yard dash, shuttle run, vertical jump and broad jump. But there’s also some drills that only the running backs take part in.

Expected to be one of the first players picked in the NFL Draft this year, if not the first, Winston announced earlier this week that he planned to throw at the Combine.

Winston opened his session with a brief statement directed at the off-field concerns that have surrounded him throughout his career in Tallahassee.

“I know made mistakes. I know I have a past. But right now, it’s about me moving forward.”

He came back to the subject again … and again … and again during his brief time on the podium.

“Football is my passion. I’ve been doing this since I was young.” He also mentioned his 7-year old brother and others he wants to inspire by playing football.

World’s No. 4 most deadly spider attacks No. 2 deadliest snake

Growing up in Australia I saw a lot of weird animal-based stuff — but nothing compares to seeing a Redback spider fight an Eastern brown snake. This video, seemingly shot at a car repair shop, shows the spider halt the snake in its tracks with its web and proceed to come down and bite it.

This behavior is very rare for a Redback. They’re known for eating insects and even small lizards that get trapped in a web, but eating a snake is an entirely different thing. Typically the spider will inject its venom into the animal, liquefying its innards before returning to drink it.

The juvenile brown snake didn’t stand a chance.

The leading returning receiver had 12 catches in 2015. An underachieving line has to replace three two-year starters. And a defense that was only decent at big-play prevention must replace its top two safeties and four of its top six tacklers on the line.
Muschamp got a roster with precious little NFL talent.

Every year, though. Every danged year. It’s fun to poke fun at the Cardinals, just like it’s fun for them to poke back with their success. But take just one second out of your day to think about how deflating it is to expect the fun that comes with watching an excellent starting pitcher, only to have it ripped away in a single newsflash. It is one of the worst parts of being a sports fan, and there isn’t much that’s close.

The Cardinals have to deal with that feeling annually. That doesn’t mean you can’t hate them when they’re back in the NLCS. It just means that you shouldn’t feel weak when you feel sympathy for them after their annual rotation surprise. It’s perfectly understandable. They have a weird, unfortunate, and horrible tradition, and it makes me feel worse for them every season.

Jerry Jones not looking forward to seeing Tony Romo in different uniform

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he hasn’t considered the possibility of Tony Romo playing for another NFC team because he doesn’t want to think about it.

“That bothers the heck out of me because I know wherever he goes, he’ll start. I know wherever he goes, he’ll compete, absent injury,” Jones said Friday on J Dub City on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM.

“We saw a guy [Tom Brady] several years older than him win a Super Bowl. I think he’s that kind of player, so you’ve dealt in your own conference, somebody that has the possibility to come back and beat us.”

Dak Prescott passed for more than 3,600 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions this past season. He’s the starter, and it’s unlikely Romo wants to remain on the roster as a backup.

It’s unlikely that Tony Romo will want to stay on the Cowboys’ roster as a backup.

Romo probably will be released or traded during the offseason. It’ll probably happen sooner rather than later because Romo’s new team will want the 36-year-old in his new city as soon as possible to learn the offense and develop a rapport with his teammates.

Why not both? The Bears are absolutely positioned to draft an impact player at No. 3 — whether it be Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, one of the quarterbacks, one of the highly rated safeties or cornerbacks, etc. Alshon Jeffery is independent of that. That situation is all about money. Despite Jeffery’s issues the past two years (injuries and suspension), the Bears still like him.

But at what cost? That’s the core issue. If Jeffery reaches free agency, he will command a multiyear deal that puts him somewhere in the top tier of his position. Some team will pay him a lot of money.

The team isn’t done making changes to its special teams

Warren is the first and only African-American chief operating officer of an NFL franchise in league history. His Vikings duties encompass overseeing marketing, finance, legal, sales, stadium development, public affairs, human resources and several other Vikings ventures.

“We first met Kevin as part of our purchasing the team and he has been a key part of our executive team since,” said Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf, who along with his brother, owner/chairman Zygi Wilf, bought the team in 2005.

“We have the highest respect for his integrity and leadership. He sets a great example on the ground for us in Minnesota. He is our feet on the ground. He has constantly helped people and players in our organization. He has let it be known that he is in support of Adrian returning. People talk about coaches having a coaching tree in this league. Kevin has a vast executive tree in this league of people he has mentored who are now doing great work for NFL teams. We are building a first-class on- and off-the-field experience with the Vikings. We have the best possible leadership in the league in Kevin to help us do that. I know I can say this — every day he looks out for the good of the Minnesota Vikings.”

One of the few weakness of the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers this past season — and one that ultimately cost them a trip to the Super Bowl — was the mediocre play of their special teams unit, which ranked 30th in Pro Football Focus’ ratings. It ultimately cost special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum his job, and resulted in the hiring of Ron Zook to fill the position.

The team isn’t done making changes to its special teams, however. Head coach Mike McCarthy told ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky that they “need to adjust [their] special teams philosophy” heading into next season. McCarthy specifically mentioned the need to use more starters and veterans on the coverage units. In 2014, there wasn’t a defensive or offensive starter that ranked among the top-14 players in special teams snap counts, per Demovsky.