Building Chemistry

Randall Cobb discusses Texans’ offensive weapons and lays out 1 big adjustment he’s making

Composite image by Jack Brame

In a short sleeve hoodie with the words "Houston Texans" in big white letters across his chest, Randall Cobb took questions from reporters in a Zoom press conference on Tuesday. What was noticeably different about Cobb this time around was the goldish pair of glasses upon his face.

Last Wednesday, the 29-year-old receiver tweeted that he had just received his first pair of glasses, and spent the day reading all the labels across the room. Similar to anyone who almost went 30 years without the assistance from their spectacles, wearing eyeglasses daily is one of several intangibles Cobb will have to adjust to in 2020.

"I've had contacts the past couple of years, but I have not had my prescription change in two years," Cobb said. "When I went [to the eye doctor] my eyes have drastically gone in the wrong direction, and it was time for me to get glasses. My wife has been hounding me about that since I've been squinting my eyes at the t.v. — it was time to make that adjustment."

When Cobb agreed to a three-year contract with the Texans in late-March, it appeared that the wideout had more than enough time to get himself acclimated to his new team. COVID had just become an enormous concern in the U.S., but early indications suggested that the virus would possibly be gone by mid-summer. Fast forward to August and COVID is still around and perhaps more dangerous than before.

To help minimize its impact on the league and its players, the NFLPA prohibited group workouts while closing training facilities across the league. For players who deem themselves high-risk rather personally or family members, the NFL has given players until August 6 to opt-out of the 2020 season.

In what would have been a summer working out continuously with his new quarterback, Deshaun Watson, Cobb spent the offseason trying to ingrain himself into the Texans' offense virtually. Furthermore, building chemistry with Watson was far from Cobb's concern. As a husband and father, Cobb said making the decision to play this coming season was a tough choice to decide.

"If you think about it, the offseason program, we probably would have thrown three or four times a week for six or seven weeks — so, you're looking at about 25 to 30 opportunities to communicate, to go through routes and timing," he said. " He [Deshaun Watson] would be able to get a sense of the way my body moves, understanding of how I come out of routes and I would be able to get an understanding of his release, his ball placement and all those things. I think...we've had maybe five to seven opportunities to throw to each other so far."

"I have two young children at home. We spend a lot of time around our family. My wife's parents are above 65, so we understand the risk that we are faced with if they were to visit. It was a decision that definitely weighed heavily on me. I felt in this time, I'm comfortable."

Cobb will have to depend on his past experiences playing alongside other mobile quarterbacks throughout his career, due to the lack of chances to workout with Watson on the field. In his first eight seasons, Cobb played beside Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, where he became a Pro-Bowler in 2014 and recorded 5,524 yards with the Packers. In 2019, he became Dak Prescott's third favorite target (83), recording 828 reception yards and a career-best 15.1 yards per catch.

Despite playing with some of the league's most premier quarterbacks, Cobb missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons since 2017. His desire to compete for a championship consistently is what led to his choice to join the Texans. As a free agent, Cobb had several suitors — including a return to the Cowboys — but felt Watson's ability to win gave him the best chance to achieve his goal.

"One thing about Deshaun watching him on tape whenever I was making my decision is just his accuracy and his ability to make plays," he said. "You look at what he's done just in his first three years. You look at the course of his career from high school — he's a winner. He's found a way to win on the biggest stage at every level and I think he has that ability."

Houston's receiving corps will be under heavy scrutiny in 2020 following the departure of DeAndre Hopkins. Cobb will be one of four receivers expected to replace what Hopkins brought to the Texans' organization for seven consecutive seasons. But notwithstanding the loss of the All-Pro receiver, Cobb feels confident in the weapons the Texans have heading into the new season.

"When you look at what Brandin's (Cooks) been able to do in his career, what I've been able to do, what Will's (Fuller V) doing and what Kenny's (Stills) been able to do...and you put us all in a room together [it] allows us to help each other and play off of each other," Cobb said. "The best teams that I've been on have had three or four guys that you can throw into the game at any moment and they're going to be able to make plays and it's not just a team dialing in on one player, they have to figure out a way to cover the whole field."

Each day that passes will serve as another opportunity for Cobb to get acclimated to wearing his new glasses throughout his life. Hopefully, with figures crossed, that same opportunity will translate to the gridiron, as Cobb continue to get accustomed to the Texans this season.

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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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