Johnathan Joseph: Best free agent signing in Houston Texans history
By Chad Martin
Johnathan Joseph is one of the most underrated players in the NFL.
When Johnathan Joseph was signed by the Houston Texans back in 2011 as a free agent. he was thought as being the second best cornerback to Nnamdi Asomugha in that class.
Joseph proved to be the best cornerback signed that offseason and has shown that he is the best free agent signing in Texans’ history.
When I watch sports my favorite people to watch are the technicians. The ones who execute the techniques in their sport the way coaches teach them.
If you want to learn how to box you should watch Bernard Hopkins. If you want to learn mixed martial arts you should watch Demetrious Johnson.
And if you want to learn how to play cornerback you need to watch Johnathan Joseph! Every time he is on the field he is running a clinic on how to play the position.
Joseph is so good at his job that even Texans’ wide receiver Deandre Hopkins takes advice from him:
"“It’s not just because of his athletic ability,” Hopkins said. “It’s because of his awareness of knowing football. Every time I come to the sideline, J-Jo is probably the first guy right there talking to me before any offensive guy on how I can beat this defender, on what he’s seeing, on what kind of coverage they’re playing. I need that and he’s been like that since my first year being here.”"
John Harris, an analyst for Houston Texans radio and Texans TV also took notice of Joseph’s excellent technique during a recent minicamp practice this week.
"6. One guy that the offense has a tough time beating, though, is Johnathan Joseph. Each quarterback tried him deep a couple of times down the near sideline and Joseph won every challenge. Nearly every day, I watch J-Jo closely during individual drills and he’s just so smooth, while staying exact with every movement. He’s linear in everything he does – he doesn’t round his cuts as some of the young guys still do."
The respect for Joseph is not just limited to his teammates and team employees.
One big reason that former Texans’ cornerback A.J. Bouye broke out last year after Kevin Johnson went down with an injury was that teams were testing him rather than Joseph.
Teams are well aware of what the top free agent signing in Texans’ history is capable of. They know how much of a challenge it is to complete passes against whoever Joseph is covering.
Bouye was up to the task way more often than not last season and the Texans finished with the No. 2 ranked pass defense in the NFL allowing just 202.4 yards per game.
This past season, Joseph did not have the best year by his standards but he was still pretty dang good. I remember two games from last season that stood out.
The first one was at Lambeau Field when the Texans took on the Green Bay Packers. The game was tied 7-7 entering the 4th quarter and Joseph had done an excellent job keeping Packers’ wide receiver Jordy Nelson in check.
Then Joseph got injured and missed the rest of the Packers game along with the next two games. Nelson then went on to catch the go-ahead touchdown to get the win for the Packers. Had Joseph not gotten hurt… maybe the Texans would have pulled out a win.
The second time was at Gillette Stadium in the divisional round of the playoffs against the New England Patriots.
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Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady and company tested Bouye and Kareem Jackson throughout the game. Sometimes he had success but often times he did not. He completed 18 of 38 pass attempts for 287 yards two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Brady paid Joseph the ultimate respect by rarely targeting him in the game.
It’s no wonder the Patriots wanted to trade for Joseph last season.
Joseph has been a leader on the Texans since he arrived in 2011. He has helped his teammates improve their game and been a rock at a position that is more important than ever as the NFL continues to lean more towards being a passing league.
With Joseph’s technical proficiency and natural athletic ability, he can continue to be a top player well into his 30’s just like cornerback Terrance Newman has done with the Minnesota Vikings.
It also doesn’t hurt that Joseph has the best front-seven in football to help him out.