Every-Thing Sports

The Clowney saga continues to take twists and turns

Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Jadeveon Clowney contract saga with the Texans took a sharp turn today. Rumors persisted that the Texans had a deal on the table to send Clowney to the Miami Dolphins, but Clowney refused to sign long term with them (h/t to John Granato for the tweet and my guy Daniel B for alerting me to it). There was also another tweet by @ThePatrickStorm that alluded to the same thing that Daniel alerted me to as well. While it has been speculated for some time now, the tea leaves are finally giving us a read on how this situation will end for Clowney and the Texans. How did it come to this? What is Bill O'Brien's role in all of this? What's the endgame here? Let's take a look at some of the factors from my point of view:

Clowney drafted in O'Brien's first season

Clowney was drafted number one overall a few months after O'Brien was hired as the Texans head coach in 2014. There was speculation that he wasn't the hardest worker due to some off-hand comments by his college coach Steve Spurrier. Clowney was (and still is) a physical freak. His infamous hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in the bowl game of his sophomore year made his legend grow even more. However, was he truly an O'Brien pick? Or was this a Rick Smith pick? This could be where the friction between the two started.

The injuries

His rookie year was marred by injuries. A concussion, meniscus tear, and eventually microfracture surgery hampered his first year in the league. Despite reports to the contrary, he was able to put the injuries behind him and come back the following year making nine starts and playing in 13 games overall that year. Who comes back from microfracture surgery the following year and performs at a high level? Someone that works his ass off, that's who!

The breakout season and beyond

In 2016, Clowney earned his first All Pro and Pro Bowl selections, as well as being named to the NFL Network Top 100 players by his peers ( number 49). In 2017, he was named to another Pro Bowl and ranked #32 on the Top 100 list. In 2018, he had arguably his best season as a pro, earned another Pro Bowl nod, but was ranked #63 on the Top 100 list. He played 2018 under the fifth year option, which typically signifies a team's willingness to resign a promising young player if they prove themselves. However, it is my belief his fate was decided on January 1, 2018 when it ewas announced that the Texans would hire a new general manger to replace Rick Smith who was taking a "leave of absence" to tend to his sick wife. This was about eight months after Clowney's fifth year option was picked up.

The GM saga

After Rick Smith and the Texans "parted ways", Brian Gaine was brought in as the general manager. He wasn't their first choice, but he was someone who O'Brien was "in sync" with. It seemed as if O'Brien won his power struggle with Smith and got a guy in whom he could control. That lasted all of 18 months as Gaine was fired earlier this year. The organization's infactuation with the New England Patriots continued as they hired Jack Easterby away from the Pats as their new Executive Vice President of Team Development and tried to get him to lure Nick Caserio away at the Pats' ring ceremony. This went down in Hindenburg fashion as the Pats leveled tampering charges, despite Caserio having an illegal clause in his contract. It led to the Texans now having a GM by committee for the upcoming season. Gaine was rumored to be pro-Clowney, while O'Brien was rumored to be anti-Clowney. I assmue Easterby said what he had to say to get the job, and/or cashed the bigger check the Texans wrote him. Again, O'Brien holds all the cards here as his death grip on this franchise grows.

The endgame

As stated earlier, the rumors are hot and heavy as to what will happen with Clowney and where he will play in the future. I have long held the position that if a team doesn't want to resign a player to a long-term deal, they should deal said player to get something in return. Clowney and the Texans are no different. While I believe he should retire a Texan because of his otherworldly ability, they appear as if they don't want to committ to him long term. Therefore, I think they need to trade him to get more than a compensatory pick as compensation for losing a generational talent. This should've happened a long time ago, but O'Brien has dragged this organization further into mediocrity as the years go by. I wrote about a month ago that I believe his ego could be the death of this organization. It seems as if he holds the Texans organization by the balls and will use it to get what he wants until his grip is no more. Ultimately, I think Clowney will get dealt and the Texans will get back more than a compensatory third round pick, but much less than what they could've gotten had they dealt him much sooner. If he doesn't get dealt this season, he will report at some point. He stands to make about $1million/week if he signs the franchise tag and reports every week of the regular season. He can continue to holdout seeking a hardline stance and go the LeVeon Bell route of holding out the entire season, or reporting in week 10 to get that year of service and risk getting tagged again the following year for 120% of the previous year's salary. This situation will be interesting to watch play out. O'Brien seems as if he will get his way by evidenced of him consistently getting his way since he's been hired. Clowney will get moved and it will be another feather in the cap of O'Brien, or the final straw that broke the camel's back. I lean towards the latter since O'Brien has proven to be nothing more than a Bill Belichek wannabe who is more style than substance. Here's to hoping this situation can end happily for Texans' fans. They have become the team who's thisclosetobeinggood, but can't get out of their own way. Here's to hoping they become more.

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Sunday's loss to the Broncos was a complete embarrassment. During the Bill O'Brien era, there have been no shortage of losses like this. Narrowing it down to five was not easy. Let's take a look back at the Hall of Shame:

No. 5: Ravens 41, Texans 7, Nov. 17, 2019

The Texans went into Baltimore on a nice roll, hoping to get a huge win and get themselves in position for a first-round bye. From the first possession, when Deshaun Watson had a terrible turnover, the Texans looked like a bad high school team. They had no answer on defense for Lamar Jackson, and the offense was unable to do anything. The Ravens are the best team in the AFC, so the shame level on this one is not as bad, but the effort (or lack thereof) in such a big game makes this one an easy addition to the list.

The next week: The Texans bounced back and beat the Colts in a Thursday night game 20-17.

No. 4: Falcons 48, Texans 21, Oct. 4, 2015

This game was an embarrassment from the beginning. As in many of these losses, they gave up a touchdown on offense early, were down 28-0 at the half and 42-0 at one point before adding some pointless garbage time points, another common theme in the losses. For O'Brien, it proved his team "didn't quit." In real life, it was a complete dismantling and the late scores were meaningless stat padders.

The next week: The dropped a 27-20 home game against the Colts.

No. 3: Dolphins 44, Texans 26, Oct. 25, 2015

Another where you can ignore the final score. The Texans were down 41-0 at one point and were dominated by Lamar Miller. The worst part? In his quest to make the score look better, O'Brien left Arian Foster in the game late, and he suffered a season ending injury. It was a dumb move to mask how unprepared the Texans were. In all of these games, the Texans were not ready, got in huge early holes, had poor game plans, and looked like they did not belong on the field. This was one of the worst.

The next week: They beat the Titans and reeled off four straight wins.

No. 2: Broncos 38, Texans 24, Dec. 8, 2019

The Texans were down 31-3 at halftime and never had any chance. They added 21 garbage time points to make the score look better, but make no mistake, this was a complete dismantling. As in all the other games, they were clueless on both sides of the ball and looked completely overmatched by a team that was 4-8 coming in and was starting a rookie QB. For a team that had high aspirations, the loss was a complete joke and was the kind of game that makes you question whether or not they can even make the playoffs. Leaving Deshaun Watson in to make the score look better was typical O'Brien and completely ridiculous.

The next week: They play at Tennessee in a game that could knock them out of the division lead.

No. 1: Chiefs 30, Texans 0, Jan. 9, 2016

Hopes were high as the Texans had a home playoff game. The hopes ended on the opening kickoff as the Chiefs returned the initial kickoff for a touchdown. Quarterback Brian Hoyer threw four picks, and who can forget the brilliant idea to have J.J. Watt run the wildcat? The thing that stands out about this game and the Baltimore loss? No empty points at the end to make it look better. In fact, no points at all.

The next week: There wasn't one. They were ousted from the playoffs.

The common thread

In every case, the Texans entered with a bad game plan, got in massive holes, and never had any chance, and O'Brien had no answers. Good teams play bad games all the time, but how often do they look completely unprepared and never have an opportunity? In every one of these games, you knew they were beaten by the second quarter. O'Brien has too many of these clueless efforts on his resume. Will they bounce back next week? History says yes, but after Sunday, do you have any faith in that?

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