Even though the Houston Texans missed the playoffs for a second straight season, there is cautious optimism surrounding the squad’s chances of getting over the hump in 2015. While there are many issues that are up in the air as we enter the off-season, not least of which is the quandary at quarterback, there is hope that the Texans will finally be able to see dividends from their number one draft pick from 2014…one Jadeveon Clowney.
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Coming out of college, Clowney was widely regarded as a game-changer. As a unanimous college All American selection as a sophomore in 2012, he set season sack records (13) and tackles for loss (23.5) for the South Carolina Gamecocks before being the overall number one pick by the Texans in 2014. His most famous play came in the 2013 Outback Bowl when he throttled Michigan running back Vincent Smith, causing and recovering a fumble that would lead to a South Carolina touchdown.
The play led to widespread media attention and even some Heisman chatter surrounded Clowney. As his junior year began, however, the highly regarded linebacker appeared to be fatigued and even sat out the Kentucky and Coastal Carolina match ups due to injury. Were these warning signs that the Texans should have taken notice of before selecting Clowney as the overall number one draft pick?
Clowney’s brief professional football career his been anything but a highlight reel. Before the Texans’ third preseason game against the Denver Broncos, he started experiencing concussion-like symptoms and did not take the field for the remainder of Houston’s tune-up games.
He left the season opener in the second quarter with what would later be diagnosed as a torn meniscus which required surgery. He would take the field in just four games in 2014 and be placed on injured reserve to undergo a second surgery in December.
Can Clowney overcome his injury riddled rookie season and perform up to the level that gained him so many accolades during his college career?
There is no questioning the talent level that the Texans’ young linebacker possesses. Should he be able to return to form, the proposition of what he could add to the Houston front would be a scary one for the team’s opponents in 2015.
Even without Clowney and with an injury bug epidemic at quarterback, Houston improved from a 2-14 record in 2013 to a respectable 9-7 mark.
After defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars in their season finale, they were in the playoff conversation until the final hours of week 17 when the Baltimore Ravens victory over the Cleveland Browns gave them the final wildcard spot.
A healthy Clowney could be the biggest game-changer of all for the Texans’ 2015 bid for a post season run.