This past Sunday a lot of players on the Houston Texans deserved to be benched for their poor play, but one in particular drew the ire of NBC’s Rodney Harrison. Middle linebacker Brian Cushing was called out by the former safety for his poor play and lack of hustle during the team’s melt down last week.
"“You saw some of their key players not even hustling,” Harrison said. “One guy I particular who I love, Brian Cushing, I saw him loaf on a couple of plays. And it was surprising to me that a guy who has a reputation of work ethic and things like that to loaf on a couple of plays like that.”"
In response, Cushing admitted there was some truth to what Harrison said, but then claims that is not necessarily who he is as a player.
"“I know one play in particular he’s talking about,” Cushing said. “I could have played a lot harder. I thought (Jarvis Landry) was out of bounds, or I would have run harder to the ball.”“Knowing what I know now, obviously, I would have gone after the play a lot harder. That’s a player I respect a lot,” Cushing said of Harrison, who was a terrific strong safety. “I hear his opinion, but I’m definitely not a player that loafs."
There are a couple of issues with Cushing’s response to the criticism from Rodney. The first being the simple fact that Cushing admits he didn’t play until the whistle. Regardless of whether or not he felt Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry went out of bounds the rule is play until the whistle is blown.
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This defense was supposed to be good this season, but they have been absolutely atrocious. When someone viewed as a leader is seen pulling up and not fighting through till the end, what message does that send to the rest of the team.
The second issue is that Cushing claims he is not a player that “loafs.” Unfortunately he also says he should have run harder to the ball. The fact that he admits he could have run harder is proof that yes, he did take a play off.
The team needs to send a message to it’s players that this non-chalant and entitled attitude needs to go. Quarterback Ryan Mallett had that attitude and he was cut.
It appears nose tackle Vince Wilfork has that attitude as well. He was too busy showing up to camp in boots and overalls to actually put in any work and it has resulted in a terrible start to the year.
Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney looks like he goes half speed at times and despite being the first overall pick as a premiere pass rusher, just logged his first career sack this past weekend.
Now Cushing is putting himself in that same category. He has put up some good numbers this season, but has been less than impactful in doing so. Perhaps if he could get fired up some and give 100 percent it would rub off on his teammates.
If not, the team should put him on the bench and let someone else show they will go hard until the whistle blows. Such a move may inspire the rest if the under performers on defense to step up their games. Plus, there really isn’t much risk of them getting any worse.