Some of my observations from the first day of workouts for the Texans
Texans want Clowney
Bill O'Brien didn't mince words when stating his desire to have his star player back. He made it clear they obviously have to work with Clowney and his agent to make it work for both sides.
Texans have Watt
J.J. Watt at Texans Training Camp 2019
A surprise for sure to see J.J. Watt out and practicing. There was some expectation he would miss a couple of days when he was announced to be on the physically unable to perform list. He missed nothing. Watt joked he found out Thursday morning. He also said his plan was always to practice day one.
He didn't look like he has missed a beat from last season either. He gets limited reps because when he is in the offense can't execute their plays in practice. It's light work the first couple of days but offensive linemen have to breathe a sigh of relief when Watt exits the field.
The first round pick
True to form with most of the Texans offensive linemen Tytus Howard gets work at plenty of positions. He is getting a lot of reps and it will be fun to watch him work when the pads come on. Howard handled Brennan Scarlett on one rep and kept hand fighting with the linebacker for a few moments after the drill was over. He also held his own against Whitney Mercilus in one rep as well.
The young lineman showed good feet and a solid base in some of the drills. Saturday, when the pads are on for the first time, will tell a lot more.
The former first round pick
Matt Kalil was out working with the Texans. The former Vikings and Panthers left tackle got plenty of work for the Texans which was nice since he was recovering from injury earlier in the year. Ideally a veteran presence like him would help should there be a first or second year player next to him at left guard. The experience may not matter if Kalil can't play. He wasn't tested much Thursday.
Is your refrigerator running routes?
I say this with the utmost respect: Jordan Thomas is the size of a refrigerator and he shouldn't move as well as he does. He showed some huge progress as a rookie last year and developed a solid relationship with Deshaun Watson. That has only gotten stronger. Watson and Thomas are always on the same page and I am not sure how teams are going to guard Thomas but I know they aren't going to have an easy time if this continues.
Will Fuller is back
One of the best surprises of training camp is the fact Will Fuller is practicing from day one of the workouts. He looked crisp and on the same page with the quarterbacks. There was a toe-tap back of the end zone catch he easily hauled in. He also snatched a ball out of the air with ease that was a rocket. His hands are worlds better than his last year at Notre Dame and first year in the NFL.
Kinda coach Andre Johnson
Andre Johnson's official title is special adviser to the head coach. Today, and most days, he was working with the wideouts. He coaches like you would expect Andre Johnson to coach. He is quiet and deliberate. Everyone is listening and watching when he shows something. Today he was delivering advice on footwork in a certain drill. Later he pulled second-year wideout Vyncint Smith aside to coach him up.
Lonnie Johnson learning
There were some teachable moments for Lonnie Johnson the team's second round pick this year. He was coached up on how much to use his hands and when to use them. He's a physical corner and when he lines up with any of the wideouts it is apparent what the Texans liked to see. He lost a rep earlier in a drill only to recover later and beat that same wideout to the ball for an interception. There's a ways to go but there is something there.
The free agent corner was a terror in drills. He is freaky athletic and played wideouts multiple ways to his success. Very impressive day for a guy the team is counting on.
Play of the day
Deshaun Watson is a wizard. The drills obviously aren't full contact and they don't even have pads on but there is still a pass rush. J.J. Watt looked to have blanketed Watson on one drill. It was moments away from being blown dead. Then the wizarding started. Watson, off balance, slipped one past Watt's massive mitts into the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. It was incredible.
Quote of the day
"I've always been involved in personnel decisions since I've been here. It'll be no more or no less."
Said by Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien.
A rookie has only won the MVP once. Jim Brown in 1957.
Only two MVPs have won the award and missed the playoffs. Johnny Unitas in 1957, and O.J. Simpson in 1973.
Of the 57 MVP winners, 54 have been offensive players. 38 of that 54 have been quarterbacks.
C.J. Stroud can win NFL MVP as a rookie quarterback. It's possible.
I know what you're thinking. “Oh boy! Jermaine is about to go off on another one of his tangents again!” You'd be half right. I do have a bone to pick and something to say, but it's a legit thing that could happen. What helped me arrive at this conclusion was looking at the factors that go into something like this actually coming to fruition.
First off, let's look at the odds. As of this writing, Stroud is at +2000 betting odds for MVP. He's the sixth best betting favorite. He's coming off a game in which he beat (and outplayed) the fifth betting favorite in Joe Burrow who's at +1200. He's currently the runaway favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year at -2000. Jahmyr Gibbs and Puka Nacua are next up at +1400 each. What I found EXTREMELY odd is Stroud isn't listed as a betting option for Offensive Player of the Year. As a frame of reference for how odd this is, Christian McCaffrey is tied with Stroud at +2000 for MVP, but is the betting favorite for Offensive Player of the Year at +125 along with Tyreek Hill. Hill is at +5000 for MVP. As they say: the math ain't mathin!
Next, I looked at the supporting cast around him. From coaches to teammates to staff/front office, the organization is completely behind this guy. His teammates love and respect him. He's constantly praised for his leadership skills. The coaching staff appreciates his work ethic and dedication to the craft. The staff/front office has spoken highly of him every chance they're asked. He and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik are totally in sync. They can currently do no wrong. There's a reason why he's second in the league in passing yards overall, and leads the league in passing yards per game.
Finally, I looked at team success. Currently, the Texans are in second place in the AFC South. The Jags are in first by a game, but the Texans won their first matchup this season. In fact, the Texans have won 11 of the last 12 games in this series. They own the Jags over the last few years. The Colts lost their prized rookie quarterback for the season and are relying on their defense and offensive line to carry them. The Titans are run by Will Levis and Derrick Henry. Remaining opponents have a combined .446 winning percentage this season. That's fourth easiest in the league.
It's that final factor that I believe will help propel him to unforeseen heights. Nothing and nobody in the AFC South should scare this team after what they've been able to accomplish this season so far. The Carolina and Atlanta losses were inexplicable. They really should've beaten the Colts in that first matchup after Richardson got hurt. A few plays here and there, this team is 7-2. A little more fire and fewer injuries earlier on, and maybe they're 8-1. It really isn't as farfetched as it may seem.
We can't ignore the fact that he's having as good or arguably a better rookie season than any quarterback before him. His drive, focus, and work ethic will propel him to great heights. If he's going to continue to do the impossible, he'll need his organization to fully back him. Everyone has a job to do. If they all continue to do it as well as they all have, particularly over the last few weeks, Stroud should win MVP while the team makes the playoffs. Coming from the depths at which this team was to make the playoffs in one season mainly due to the play of Stroud should not only earn him MVP, but DeMeco Ryans should be Coach of the Year as well. He's the second betting favorite at +250 behind Dan Campbell at +175. Excuse me while I go place some bets.
(*All betting odds are courtesy of BETUS.com)