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The Great Leap Forward - Johnathan Joseph

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How many of you watch the "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Blogger Reindeer" at Christmas every year?  Remember when Rudolph and his homies went up to the Island of Misfit Toys?  And Rudolph promised the misfit toys that he would come back to get them on Christmas?  Well, during the free agency extravaganza, as each hour passed by, I was starting to feel like one of those misfit toys.  I started thinking that Christmas had passed us by again this year, as it had the last several years before.  And then, at around 5 p.m. Pacific time (yeah, yeah, inferior time zone, blah, blah, blah) I heard the jingle jangle of tiny sleigh bells off in the distance.  Could it be?  Could it be true that after all these years, Santa would finally come to the Island? 

As it turned out, it was all true, it was not our collective delusions imagination playing a sick joke on us, it was not the false rumors of hack journalists (coughBarryWarnercough coughMichaelLombardicough) gone seriously awry.  Christmas came for the Texans and we didn't get yet another bottle of bleach lump of coal in our stockings.  Instead we got one of the best cover corners in the league in Johnathan Joseph.  We also got Danieal Manning, but that's for another time.  This is about Johnathan Joseph and what part he'll play in the Texans' Great Leap Forward.

To find out more, click on the Charlie-in-a-Box...I mean jump.

What Joseph can contribute to the Great Leap Forward:  As anybody with a pair of eyes who directed them at a Texans game can tell you, the biggest problem the Texans had last season was that the corners did not give up big enough cushions to the wide receivers they were covering.  Hang on.

::whack!::

Damn gremlins.  What I MEANT to say was the problem was the secondary was one of the worst units in the history of football.  In other words, dead people could have put together a better secondary than the Texans last year.  Joseph is integral to the improvement of the Houston Texans as a whole.  Without him, the defense is almost right back where it was last year, except with, ostensibly, better safety play.  How does Joseph make them better?  Well, I'm glad you asked, even though it was a rhetorical question and I did the asking.  Joseph was ranked as the 6th best cornerback in 2009 by Pro Football Focus.  His coverage skills (yes, Houston, we have a corner with coverage skills...sounds weird, doesn't it?) will inevitably lead to additional coverage sacks by Mario Williams and our revamped front seven.  I'm sorry, I need a minute to soak that thought in...

::Muzak::

Thank you.  I should also add that, according to Football Outsiders, he was the ninth best cornerback just last year when it comes to receivers getting yards after the catch, allowing only 2.3 yards after each catch.  Compare that to Kareem Jackson and his nausea-inducing 6.0 yards allowed after the catch.  I'd say this is a vast, badly-needed, improvement to the secondary.

Potential Problems:  What worries me most of all is that Joseph has only played two complete seasons in the league since being drafted in 2006; of those two seasons, only in his stellar 2009 season did he start all 16 games.  Make no mistake, there are injury concerns swirling around him like...um...big swirling things.  I would feel infinitely better if I could get some kind of guarantee in writing that Joseph will get through a complete 16 game schedule.  What I think will help in this respect is, oddly enough, the lockout.  Since there weren't as many offseason training activities last year as there would be in a normal year, it might have given his nagging ankle injury more time to heal than it ordinarily would.

Expectations and Pointless Predictions:  I think this is the year.  Joseph's signing (and Manning's) has effectively transformed the secondary and while this doesn't answer the injury concern; I also think that with our fast and furious front seven causing havoc at the line, it will make Joseph's job a little easier, just as having a supremely talented cover corner will make things easier for the front seven.  I love symbiosis.  A real cover corner...I'm all tingly.