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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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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