STRONG TAKE

Deshaun Watson's mentor on the Texans being better without Hopkins

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans begin training camp with a franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson firmly in place but without an obvious number one wide receiver for Watson to throw to. The trade of All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins was one of the most controversial trades in recent NFL history and how Houston will attempt to make up for the loss of Hopkins' production could define the Texans 2020 season.

Even without Hopkins, with Watson entering his 4th season under center for the Texans expectations should still remain high according to Watson's mentor and former NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer. Palmer, 35, who is the personal coach of the Jets' Sam Darnold, the Bills' QB Josh Allen, and now the Bengals' Joe Burrow, privately trained Watson leading up to the 2017 draft and has seen the signal-caller take massive steps forward during his first three seasons in the league.

"Deshaun has really grown into himself," Palmer said on The Jake Asman Show on SportsMap Radio. "It's not just that he is smart, he also has the study habits to go with it. Deshaun's a kid that was on honor roll starting in third grade every single year until he graduated on the dean's list at Clemson in three years. So that foundation has allowed him to go further faster in that offense."

Last season in 15 games with the Texans, DeAndre Hopkins, accounted for over 100 catches, 1,100 yards, and 7 touchdowns. How will Watson adjust to not having Hopkins in the offense anymore? Not many have come out on the record and said they support the off-season that Bill O'Brien has had. However, Palmer actually believes that with Hopkins taking up a large portion of Houston's salary cap the Texans actually made a smart move dealing him to Arizona.

"I think there are going to be areas of the game that makes things more difficult," Palmer said. "At the same time, they added Brandin Cooks and David Johnson. Now neither of those guys are DeAndre Hopkins but you have to make up for productivity, not just a person... David Johnson played with my brother (Carson) in Arizona and I know how dynamic of a runner and pass catcher he is."

With Brandin Cooks, he's really similar to a lot of the body types of receivers that Deshaun played with in college. Brandon is such a consummate pro and veteran and look at who Cooks has played with? He's played with Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Jared Goff. So Brandon is a guy who is also bringing a wealth a knowledge and contributes more than just statistically… I think the addition of those two players if they stay healthy, the productively will be offset and I think this could potentially be an upgrade particularly with what DeAndre was going to chew up in cap space for them, so I actually think big picture this is the right move."

You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM -10 AM Central on SportsMap Radio.

You can listen to the full interview with Jordan Palmer below:


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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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