Training camp for the Houston Texans is underway, and on Monday the team will hit the practice field wearing pads. Well, most of them anyway.
Jadeveon Clowney is still recovering from a microfracture procedure to repair his knee and was placed on the preseason physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He'll join his teammates when cleared by the medical staff.
A few days ago, I heard an interesting question brought up on the air by Sean Pendergast, Ted Johnson and Rich Lord on Sports Radio 610. Paraphrasing here, but the question was basically, "What is the minimum number of productive years from Jadeveon Clowney (as a Houston Texan) you would equate to Clowney being a success for the Texans?"
It's a brilliant question, because it strikes right at the heart of the mixed emotions for fans who watched their beloved team invest the number one overall draft pick on a player in 2014, only to then see that player miss most of his rookie season due to: sports hernia surgery, a concussion in training camp, a torn lateral meniscus and then microfracture surgery.
Let's just come out and say it: We feel cheated by this situation. Clowney was supposed to be a "generational talent" and he was Houston's for the taking. It was a reward, of sorts, for enduring the misery of the disastrous 2013 season, where the back-to-back division champions of the AFC South followed Matt Schaub's unfortunate and complete demise.
Well, that's life, especially in the violent world of the NFL. Take, for instance, Brian Cushing. Had he not suffered two rare and highly unlikely season-ending injuries in 2012 and 2013, it is quite possible that people would be talking about his future induction into the Hall of Fame. He was one of the top linebackers in the NFL before he got hurt, and his absence made it clear how much more effective the overall defense was with him at the heart of it. Unfortunately, he lost two seasons during his prime years and is now clawing his way back. Injuries are part of this sport, and nothing is guaranteed.
Now lets look at another player. J.J. Watt was the 11th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft for the Texans, and many fans were scratching their heads about this selection. Clearly few people thought he would amount to more than a starter , but the universe chose to reward Houston with a true "generational talent" who is quickly becoming not only the face of the Texans, but the face of the league. We should count ourselves incredibly fortunate to have a player of this caliber and character on the team.
Let's be honest, though. We are not satisfied. We still want some type of value for that first overall pick from 2014, don't we? Through all the controversy surrounding Clowney leading up to that draft, there were a good amount of folks pulling for Teddy Bridgewater since the Texans still hadn't resolved the ever-critical quarterback position. Others were pining for Khalil Mack. Houston selected Clowney, and then our hearts sank with each report of how he would miss time due to injuries and recovery from procedures. So here we are, on the cusp of training camp for Clowney's second NFL season with no indication of when he'll actually be ready to deliver on the investment the organization made in him.
Say that Clowney does deliver on that investment, but his career is shortened by the wear-and-tear he has been through. Let's also suggest that he does perform at the "generational talent" level that we all hoped he would. How many years of that sort of production would you consider to be the minimum for the team's investment to be a success? What if one, or more, of those years led to a Super Bowl championship for the Texans?
Vote and chime in with your thoughts on this. Next week, the journey begins!