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The Value of Things: When Do You Cut the Cord?

When do you give up a player?

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

When I first introduced The Value of Things I was thinking of situations like this. The most important thing a team can do in any sport is scout themselves. They need to know the value of their own guys. They need to know which ones to keep and which ones to let go. They need to know which ones to pay and which ones to allow to leave via free agency. It is a difficult process and often times a painful one.

We all have guys we grew up with. We remember them when they were young, strong, healthy, and at their best. We all remember that moment when our heroes weren’t young anymore. They weren’t healthy anymore and their presence began to hold the team back. In Houston, we’ve seen that happen to Hakeem Olajuwon, Jeff Bagwell, and Craig Biggio. it sadly happened to Andre Johnson too. Father Time is undefeated.

The second most difficult part of self-scouting is admitting when you’ve made a mistake. You don’t want to give up on guys too soon because everyone develops at their own rate. Still, eventually it becomes obvious to everyone around you. Keeping that guy eventually blocks someone else from making the team or getting reps on Sundays. If we allow sentimentality to cloud our judgment we will end up watching other teams in January play for the chance to advance to the Super Bowl.

Anyone that knows me knows I am a huge TCU Horned Frogs fan. I am a very proud alum and if you know any Horned Frog in your life you’ll know they are a proud alum. There just aren’t enough of us to be anything else. So, when the Texans drafted Ross Blacklock I was as excited as anyone. I knew exactly who he was and what he could possibly do for the Texans. Gary Patterson always coached great defenses and I just knew Blacklock could be an anchor in the middle of our defense.

Of course, we drafted Garrett Wallow last season, but that wasn’t quite the same thing. Sixth round picks aren’t really supposed to have a huge impact. I figured Wallow would be a Special Teams guy and occasional defender. So far, I’ve been right. Blacklock was supposed to be different. He was our first selection in that draft. He was taken before Jonathan Taylor and other prominent players. He was supposed to at least be a solid starter.

Blacklock started one game during his rookie campaign and two games this past season. He did have two sacks last season, but he was also surpassed on the depth chart by Maliek Collins and Roy Lopez. The team drafted Thomas Booker in the fifth round this season. He has looked better than Blacklock this camp. Blacklock has been given every opportunity to succeed and it just hasn’t happened.

There is always a moment when you know it’s the end. For Willie Mays it infamously occurred when he fell in the outfield during the 1973 World Series. Fans just knew it was the end. For Blacklock it was when he committed three penalties in a two play span. Two of those penalties were lining up offsides. That’s lining up offsides and not jumping offsides. That’s something we learned how to do in seventh grade football. Then, there was the face mask on the same play as when he lined up offsides. I guess these things happen.

It’s always sad when you have to admit that one of your early picks was a bust. The alternative is to keep hoping for something to finally happen. Blacklock wasn’t the first and he certainly won’t be the last. The fact that he’s a Horned Frog makes it that much more of a drag for me. Still, if you want the Texans to be the very best they can be then you have to admit when enough is enough. It is time to cut the cord on Ross Blacklock.