Houston Texans: Exploring real reasons behind Randall Cobb’s signing
By Jair Lopez
There are several ulterior motives for the Houston Texans adding Randall Cobb to their offense for this upcoming season.
It’s interesting to go back to the first instance that head coach Bill O’Brien likened Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers in his first year with the Texans. O’Brien was very complimentary of Watson’s game in an informal pregame exchange with former assistant coach Wes Welker.
“He’s a very smart young player. Knock on wood. He really plays the game in a calm way. So I’ve been showing him a lot of Aaron Rodgers. Not saying he is Aaron Rodgers, but I’m saying he plays the game in a calm way”. To which Welker responded, “I think he will be. I’ve never seen anything like it, ever.”
Watson only ended up playing six games in his rookie season before being shut down for the rest of the season with an ACL injury. However, a compliment like that shouldn’t have been taken lightly coming from Welker, who played with future first ballot hall of fame quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in his stops with the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos.
O’Brien went on to elaborate on what similarities he saw between both players on The Adam Schefter Podcast after Watson’s first year with the Houston Texans.
"“The poise, the calmness, the ability to keep your eyes down the field. Obviously, the athletic ability, the ability to escape, the ability to keep plays alive while still in the pocket or obviously outside the pocket. You can’t be herky-jerky in those moments. You have to move ever so slightly and sometimes you have to move more than that. But you have to do it in a way that keeps the play alive and shows your teammates that a play is still alive. I think that’s what obviously Aaron Rodgers has and I think that’s a good guy for Deshaun [Watson] to look at, in addition to other guys. But I think just as a skill set that’s a good guy for him to look at.”"
The feeling that Watson could be a great quarterback was also reciprocated by Rodgers who had high praise for him after his rookie season in a media interview he had at a golf tournament with ESPN.com:
"“I think you’re seeing the quarterbacks now coming in a lot more ready to play more than I was 13 years ago. I think he’s really put himself in a position to play and play effectively. My hope for him would be that he gets to come along at his own pace and gets in there when he’s ready and has a great career, because like I said, I’ve heard nothing but good things about him.”"
Watson has done just that as he has quickly risen up to the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the league with his play, and the Texans have made a concerted effort to build a strong supporting cast around him.
To make matters more interesting, it seems of very little coincidence that O’Brien signed one of Rodgers’ favorite teammates and receiver in Randall Cobb to a three year $27 million deal as the Texans’ new general manager. Although the deal is front-loaded in terms of guaranteed money for the first two years, Houston opted to let a potential high compensatory pick go out the window with D.J. Reader leaving on a big contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in order to secure Cobb’s services in free agency.
There’s a lot Cobb, and the Houston Texans can take away from each other outside of the obvious benefit of going on a potential Super Bowl run, Watson can get the invaluable opportunity of working and learning from one of the better slot receivers in the last decade. Although Cobb has lost a step as he turns 30 in August, he was rather productive last season with the Dallas Cowboys finishing with 55 receptions, 828 receiving yards, averaging a career-high 15.1 yards per reception, and hauling in three touchdown receptions.
Cobb fills a need in the offense and arguably stands as one of the better if not the best slot receiver the Texans have had in franchise history. Since O’Brien came in 2014, Texans attempted to use Damaris Johnson, Keshawn Martin, Braxton Miller, Keith Mumphery, DeAndre Carter, Keke Coutee, and other receivers in the slot with no avail. Even though there exists a small chance Coutee could turn the corner, he has a long way to go to regain the trust of the coaching staff after being a healthy scratch in more than a few games this previous season.
Cobb has been in this game for a long time entering his tenth year in the league, and there are several things he has learned along the way with Rodgers in his eight-year stint with the Packers that he can show Watson as he continues his path as one of the young up and coming superstars in the league.
Cobb noted similarities Watson and Rodgers both share in their game, “I see a lot of the same characteristics in Deshaun,” Cobb said. “The way he’s able to escape the pocket and keep his eyes downfield and find receivers.”
It’ll be intriguing to see if this move pays off on the field, but on paper, the Houston Texans have one of the better skill groups in the NFL heading into next season.
Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills, and Cobb are solid four options at receiver; that isn’t including the two running backs the Texans have in David Johnson and Duke Johnson that are also viable receivers out of the backfield.