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 Astros will look to capitalize on the Rangers' big loss. Composite Getty Image.

Injuries can be a hindrance or a help. Perspective is everything. Whether you're the guy injured, the one stepping up, the teammate of either, or the opponent of either, there's a way to look at things. You can take the positive approach: choosing to see things as a blessing in disguise and look forward to what the future holds. You can also take the negative approach: seeing how bad things are and how they'll torpedo what you're trying to do.

When news came down that Rangers' pitcher Jacob deGrom will miss significant time due to needing Tommy John surgery, I imagine how hard it must've hit their organization. The video of him tearfully talking about how he's going to miss time and whatnot must've been rough for them to watch. As an Astros fan, and admitted hater of all things that far north of The Wall, I didn't shed a single tear. Tough break!

The Astros have dealt with injuries every year since they've become a powerhouse contender. Every year, a prominent piece of this team misses time. And every year, this team finds a way to keep on winning. During the pandemic season, they still managed to make it to the ALCS. Starters, relievers, position players, suspensions, firings, sanctions, regime changes…NOTHING has stopped this train from rolling down the tracks!

If anything, it's motivated them to play harder and forced guys to step up. One could argue it's helped more than hurt. We've seen guys not only step up, but show out when thrust into the spotlight. Remember when Carlos Correa, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr went down? Remember when guys left via free agency? Remember when there was a regime change due to scandal, then another due to creative/business differences? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Do I feel bad for deGrom? Of course. I wouldn't wish injury on any athlete. Well, not most of them. There are a few that…another day, another topic. I hope he comes back better than before. That would make beating them next season and the season after much better because they'll be at full strength. The Astros have constantly risen to the occasion. The Rangers will have to do the same. The difference is, the Astros have done it time and time again. The Rangers haven't won the division since 2016, and haven't been to a World Series since 2011. They don't have the same track record.

That's why I believe this season will be another Astros division title win. They have the firepower to continue to forge ahead, while an injury like this could derail the Rangers. They tried to buy their way to relevance this past offseason. As of this writing, they're 4.5 games up in the division. Other teams that have tried to buy their way into the postseason and/or a World Series aren't doing so well. The Yankees (-7.5), Angels (-9), Mets (-6.5, and Padres (-8) are all teams who've thrown money at attempts at winning and are all behind in their respective divisions.

Refer back to this article in August or September. I guarantee the Rangers will join that list and the Astros will be back in their rightful spot: atop the AL West and headed to the annual AL Astros Invitational, aka the ALCS.

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