LOOKING AHEAD

Here's why J.J. Watt's future with the Houston Texans remains uncertain

Watt can't wait on a rebuild. Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images.

A few weeks ago, it appeared as if J.J. Watt had played his last game as a member of the Houston Texans. They had just suffered a 35-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers, resulting in the Texans falling to 1-6 on the season. With the trade deadline looming, a disgruntled Watt walked off the field inside NRG Stadium. The consensus around the league believed that the future Hall of Famer would be one of several players rumored to be on the move in a potential fire sale.

However, the Texans stood pat. Not only did Houston not trade their franchise star, but refused to explore the market by defining Watt as one of their four untouchable players.

Watt, arguably the greatest player in franchise history, will finish his ninth season playing on a team that appears to be heading straight towards a rebuild at the conclusion of the year. It's a path the 31-year-old defensive end says he has no interest in being a part of during the twilight of his career.

"I don't think it's any secret that I don't have 10 years left in this league," Watt said during his virtual press conference on Wednesday. "I personally believe that I do have a few more great ones left in me. But, you also can't — I'm not looking to rebuild. I'm looking to go after a championship and that's what I want to do. Whatever is in the best interest of the Houston Texans, that's in the best interest of myself. But, like I said, I'm interested in winning a championship in this league. That's every player's goal."

Watt has stated an infinite amount of times that bringing a Super Bowl title to Houston remains his ultimate goal. Deshaun Watson echoed the same objective nearly 20 minutes later via Zoom, but the Texans are far from title contention.

In a season that began with a four-game losing streak and the jettison of Bill O'Brien, the Texans will watch the 2020 post-season unfold from the comfort of their homes — more likely than not. With little draft capital and money extremely scarce, it is going to be a daunting task for Houston to address their lack of talent ahead of the 2021 season.

In reality, it may take the Texans two years to get back to playoff contention and another before they can reestablish themselves as Super Bowl contenders. That's an additional three more seasons wasted for Watt — who would be 34-years-old and on the brink of retirement.

Although the Texans retained his services past this year's trade deadline, the idea of Watt finishing his career draped in another team's jersey is still a high possibility. He has one year left on his current contract, and it is hard to imagine Watt still playing for the Texans beyond the 2021 season — especially if Houston has not made any improvements to their team.

A pending free-agency and a distressed star could alas be the formula for a significant breakup between Watt and the Texans as early as next spring.

"We've won some division championships and that's great, but that's not the goal. If your goal is not to win the Super Bowl and your goal is not to do everything in your power to make that happen and make your organization in the best possible situation for that, then that's not going to happen. So, that is my goal. That's why I fought back from all these injuries because that's the goal, and that's what I'm still working towards." — Watt.

Coty M. Davis is a reporter for ESPN 97.5 Houston/SportsMap covering the Houston Texans. He is also the co-host of Locked On Texans, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network. Follow Coty on Twitter @CotyDavis_24.

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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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