Andre Johnson's earned the right to say whatever he wants whenever he wants to say it. Still, the All-Time Greatest Texan's decision to unload on the franchise's direction this week is more than a little curious.
It's like a landlord whose tenant burned down his building screaming at the firefighters called in to try and save it. He's finally complaining now? Really!?
For the first time in forever, the Texans finally have a no-nonsense coach with a definitive vision, one whose idea of success doesn't revolve around an occasional first round playoff win. Could Bill O'Brien turn out to be a flop? Sure, any NFL rookie head coach comes with some risk. But O'Brien's background and his actions in Houston so far indicate a clear plan and commitment to installing the new culture this Houston Texans franchise so desperately needs.
Not to mention the new offense.
Even if Johnson doesn't believe in the QBs, he should at least give O'Brien's intricate new offense a chance.
Johnson stayed silent and complicit through eight years of Gary Kubiak, eight years of two total playoff wins, eight years of a country club atmosphere with little player responsibility demanded, and now he's going off before he's ever even gone through a single Bill O'Brien practice?
No. 80 played seven seasons with Matt Schaub, a quarterback completely unable to get him the ball in the end zone, a quarterback who somewhat stunted the All-Time Greatest Texan's Hall of Fame resume, and now he's apparently upset about the team's QB situation? Despite having Case Keenum, a 26-year-old QB who threw him five touchdown passes in a two-week span, and another talented young quarterback on the roster in Tom Savage?
Unless O'Brien's privately telling Johnson that he needs to take a massive pay cut or that his role in the offense is being greatly reduced or that the Texans are tanking the 2014 season Philadelphia 76ers style (none of which seem likely), this rant is misguided.
Andre Johnson should have been railing against Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith's inability to capitalize on the momentum of 2011 when the Texans were the best team in football before Schaub shattered his foot on that ill-advised quarterback sneak Kubiak called, and still a team capable of making a defensive run to the Super Bowl if T.J. Yates hadn't thrown three interceptions in Baltimore. That's the moment when a real winning window opened up for Johnson — and bungling slammed it shut.
O'Brien represents a chance at another winning window.
A Case Keenum & Clowney Reality
Even if Johnson doesn't believe in the quarterbacks, he should at least give O'Brien's intricate new offense a chance. The Texans offense is certainly going to be more creative and less predictable next season. Johnson likely won't be endlessly force fed the ball like he was under Kubiak, but he's liable to get more chances to make real game-swinging plays in open space.
However gruff or even paranoid you think this Bill Belichick disciple is, O'Brien knows offensive football. He's going to take advantage of chess pieces like Andre Johnson and Arian Foster even as he spreads the ball around. It's no stretch to imagine the presence of weapons like Johnson and Foster is one of the reasons O'Brien jumped at the Texans job.
The timing just seems so strange. This isn't the Texans dark days. This is when there's at least a glimpse of some light at the end of the tunnel.
Again, Johnson has every right to sound off and question whether "this is still the place for me." He deserves to dictate his own fate. His sustained run of excellence, his off-the-field work in the community, make the thought of anything less than that appalling.
The timing just seems so strange though. This isn't the Texans dark days. This is when there's at least a glimpse of some light at the end of the tunnel.
Doesn't Andre Johnson owe it to himself to at least get through the first week of training camp — maybe even the first exhibition game — before rendering a verdict on the new regime and quarterback situation?
Yes, Johnson's on the verge of turning 33. But he's still a dominant receiver. And O'Brien's likely smart enough not to overuse him so he stays a dominant receiver for even longer. Andre Johnson doesn't have to make every catch anymore. He shouldn't have to carry the offense. He just needs the chance to make the plays that decide games.
It seems weird that he's not intrigued by the creative ways O'Brien figures to use him. O'Brien should be pitching No. 80 on just how he'll be utilized, how he can be a difference making force in a winning program.
With the right coaching, this doesn't have to be a long rebuild. Jadeveon Clowney instantly gives the Texans another game changer, another super talent, and the defense has a chance to be dominant within the next two seasons under a creative coordinator like Romeo Crennel. It's fair to question whether any rookie NFL head coach can pull off this turnaround, but it's way too early to deliver any kind of verdict like that on O'Brien.
After years of sticking by Kubiak and Schaub, years of being on a routinely out coached team, Johnson's already questioning his future under the new guy?
Something just seems off about this whole thing. Andre Johnson's well within his rights to skip voluntary mini camp and OTAs, to lash out whenever he pleases.
But now, Andre. Now? Where was this outrage when it really could have made a difference?