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The Muff-in Man

Forget baby man Jacoby Jones or Tim Tebow at tailback, another converted QB gives Texans real hope

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Keshawn Martin Texans
Keshawn Martin offers the Texans something of a new hope. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
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Jacoby Jones didn't just make one mistake during his time with the Texans. He disappointed for years. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Keshawn Martin Texans
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Jacoby Jones has come out and said he has no hard feelings toward the Houston Texans. Which is like Dwight telling Angela that he's not mad at her after killing her cat on The Office. Or a cousin who overstays his welcome by about three weeks informing the family he's crashing with that he's not angry that they didn't buy him another dinner.

What would Jacoby Jones have to be upset about?

The only reason he's still in the NFL at all is because Texans coach Gary Kubiak refused to give up on him when he acted about as professional as your average Adam Sandler movie character his first few years in the league.

This idea that Jones is some sort of wronged, vengeful hero, returning with the Baltimore Ravens to show the Texans what they miss in Sunday's showdown between the AFC's two best teams is a joke. General manager Rick Smith cut Jones in the offseason for good reason — one that's not close to being all about Jones committing one of the most boneheaded plays in recent NFL playoff history.

 "I played quarterback in high school," Keshawn Martin says. "They wouldn't let me return kicks." 

Remember, Jones didn't pull a Kyle Williams in Baltimore last January. He wasn't some tragic figure who dropped some punts he needed to catch. No, Jones muffed an already-bouncing punt he never should have gone near in a million years. His sin wasn't physical. It was a complete brain lock.

If you think that play is the sole reason he's not in Houston anymore though, you never watched any of his receiving career.

The 28-year-old Jones is gone because he never came close to improving at any sort of reasonable rate. He certainly never came close to justifying the three-year $10.5 million contract the Texans signed him to after the 2010 season.

"We couldn’t keep him," Kubiak, who remains something of a Jacoby defender to this day, said this week. "I don’t know how else to explain that to you. You can’t pay them all, can’t keep them all."

Actually, the ones you cannot keep, if you want to remain a contender, are the ones who underperform.

Smith understand this. Would you rather have a 28-year-old Jacoby Jones (a player who appears destined to forever frustrate) or take your chances with a 22-year-old Keshawn Martin, a 22-year-old DeVier Posey and a 24-year-old Lestar Jean? Smith didn't jettison Jones until after he'd drafted Martin and Posey.

Do you really want Jacoby Jones standing in the way and slowing the development of wideouts who still have the chance to be more than an occasional flash?

Jones has 11 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown through six games with the Ravens and their pass-dependent, no-huddle offense. He's on pace for a 31-catch season, the same sort of season that drove Texans fans rightly insane last year. News flash: Jerry Rice, he's still not.

 The 28-year-old Jones is gone because he never came close to improving at any sort of reasonable rate.  

Yes, that 108-yard kickoff return against the Dallas Cowboys last week looks good. Never mind that the Cowboys didn't come close to touching Jones even once. Considering the Texans' special teams issues so far, any jolt looks majestic.

But that's not enough to produce real regret. As Texans fans boo Jacoby Jones Sunday, they will not be doing it out of longing.

New Hope

In a week in which some try to cast Jones as a wronged man, a week in which unemployed receiver Chad Johnson shows up at a Texans game, a week in which New York Jets coach Rex Ryan talks about using Tim Tebow at running back, it's another converted quarterback who offers the Texans hope of salvation.

 Do you really want Jacoby Jones standing in the way and slowing the development of wideouts who still have the chance to be more than an occasional flash? 

If Keshawn Martin (six catches through six games) breaks out against the Ravens, it will be fitting.

For Martin represents the hope of moving well past Jacoby Jones. He'll get plenty of chances to touch the ball against Baltimore as well (this will be the rookie's second game returning kicks in place of the dumped Trindon Holliday). 

Martin didn't start returning kicks for the first time until he arrived on Michigan State's campus.

"I played quarterback in high school," Martin tells CultureMap. "They wouldn't let me return kicks."

Martin describes himself as a "running quarterback" who might have been able to play Division II football at the position. He used to joke with Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins that he could still play quarterback if need be.

No. 82 doesn't make those type of jokes in the Texans' locker room. Few of his pro teammates even know that he used to be a QB. "I haven't done anything at this level to talk," Martin says.

If he does something today and spoils the Return Game hype of another, Texans fans will love him forever. It's good to be real hope.

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