Jadeveon Clowney's star-crossed rookie season is coming to an end — with nothing to show for it but frustration.
Clowney will have a second surgery on the right knee that's been hurting him for months, turning him into a shadow of the dominant force the Houston Texans drafted with the No. 1 overall pick.
"This guy's been injured," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said moments ago in his daily press briefing. "And it's time to get it right."
Clowney obviously played in pain against the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals in Weeks 11 and 12. Despite a reputation that's dogged him since his South Carolina days, it's ridiculous to argue that Clowney hasn't given it his all to help the Texans.
"He's a tough kid. He tried to play."
His body just hasn't been right since he hurt the knee in the first half of the Texans first game of the season. A visit with the famed Dr. James Andrews in Florida this week convinced everyone that Clowney trying any more this year would be counter productive and potentially harmful.
"He's a tough kid," O'Brien said. "He tried to play."
It'd be easy to declare that the Texans made a colossal mistake in taking Clowney No. 1 now. And many are. But that's shortsighted and silly. You don't pass on a talent as blinding as Clowney. You can anticipate this type of injury. And a rookie season hardly makes a career.
There will be plenty of time for Clowney to still validate the supernova talent that had some comparing him to Lawrence Taylor.
It's much too early to say the Texans are in a Derrick Rose situation — as many Twitter geniuses are. As troubling as needing a second surgery on the same knee is, it's still only one injury in Clowney's case. He's also shown anything but a hesitancy to try and play. If anything, Clowney probably should not have tried to come back again and again this season.
"We need to get him healthy," Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. "When he's healthy, we know what he's capable of."
In a way, it's a remarkable that the Texans (6-6) are still hovering on the edge of the AFC playoff race having gotten nothing out of the No. 1 pick. Clowney is clearly one of the three most talented players on O'Brien's roster — along with J.J. Watt and Arian Foster.
Clowney's return will be the biggest reason to hope the still quarterback-unsettled Texans can be better next season. This year is a complete loss for the No. 1.
But that doesn't mean the pick was.