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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Jose Urquidy is a surprising choice to start Game 2. Photo by Getty Images.

After a long and tumultuous season, the Houston Astros made it to their 3rd World Series in five years and will take on the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night.

Houston had the better overall regular season record, so games 1 & 2 will be played at Minute Maid Park while games 3-5 will be held at Truist Park in Atlanta.

(If necessary, the final two contests will be played back at Minute Maid Park).

The Braves got this far by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS 3-1 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games (4-2).

Atlanta prevailed with timely hitting from guys like Joc Pederson, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario performing like an MVP this postseason.

The Braves received solid pitching outings from guys like Ian Anderson, Max Fried and former Astro Charlie Morton.

Atlanta used clutch hitting and solid pitching to make to their first World Series since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Astros made it back to the World Series by defeating the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS 3-1 and out-slugged the Red Sox four games to two.

According to Fox Bet, the Astros are favored at -154 to win the World Series. This is certainly an obtainable goal for Houston's team as they have the experience, hitting and pitching to compete with anyone.

Can Houston's bats stay hot?

The most intriguing matchup this series will be the Astros' bats facing off against this Braves pitching staff. On paper, Houston's lineup seems to be favored for their depth. Jose Altuve at the top of the batting order is always a threat to get on base, and behind him are a plethora of hitters who can drive in multiple runs.

The two best bats this postseason thus far for the Astros are ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522 batting average) and this year's American League batting title champion Yuli Gurriel (.455 batting average). The Cuban natives have lit up pitching and will look to continue their torrid hitting in the World Series.

Other Astros who could be impactful at the plate against the Braves include Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. All three of their batting average's in the .200's respectfully and could come up big at any time.

This lineup is so deep, Atlanta's pitchers won't receive many breaks, if at all this series.

Will the pitching step up again?

Losing Lance McCullers Jr. for the World Series certainly isn't ideal, but not impossible to overcome as proven in the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Framber Valdez pitched the best game of his career when he threw 8 innings and surrendered only one run in Game 3, while Luis Garcia had his best start of the postseason and received the Game 6 win. Both of these pitchers have stepped up in McCullers' absence and will have a huge impact on the series. Valdez is set to start Game 1 on Tuesday night.

If Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke can also pitch deeper into games, there will be less stress on the bullpen and give the Astros a better chance to stay in games. And we won't have to wait long to see Urquidy, as he will start Game 2, according to Astros manager Dusty Baker.

In an ideal scenario, the Astros' starting pitchers should throw six innings of work and let Kendall Graveman, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly closeout games as they have all season.

Of course this is the best-case scenario, which doesn't always happen, but other arms can be used to bridge the gaps that include Phil Maton, Yimi Garcia in short relief outings and Cristian Javier and Jake Odorizzi can pitch multiple innings if needed.

Even if a starter has a clunker of a start, this bullpen has done a great job of keeping things close and setting up the Astros for success.

Will this be Carlos Correa's "Last Dance" with Astros?

One can only imagine what is going on in Carlos Correa's mind right now. No one is implying that the free agent to be will not be focused this series, but it's hard to fathom this upcoming offseason isn't a distraction right now.

The 27-year-old shortstop is set to receive multiple offers from different teams and land one of the richest contracts once this season concludes.

If this truly is his final season with the Astros, why not go out on top and win one more title before moving on?

Let's hope this "Last Dance" for Correa is a slow one, so we can all enjoy it a little longer.

Will Dusty's experience prove to be a difference-maker?

Dusty Baker's experience could be beneficial for Houston's chances of hoisting another trophy as he has managed teams in parts of 24 seasons.

He's the only skipper to ever lead five franchises to the postseason and obtain more than 2,000 career victories.

This is the second time he as taken a club to the World Series. He took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the Fall Classic but lost to the Angels in seven games.

It's safe to assume the 72-year-old seems eager to win his first championship as a manager to cap off a Hall of Fame career.

Final projection

As previously mentioned, the Astros are favored to win this series. If Houston can continue to stay hot at the plate, receive solid outings from their pitchers and just play Astros baseball, there is a good chance this city will have yet another Commissioner's Trophy in their display case.

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