J.J. Watt Delivers Epic Rant After Latest Loss for Texans; Watson May Seek Trade

Featured

By Terrance Turner

Dec. 27, 2020 (Updated Dec. 30, Jan. 7)

Photo from Getty Images.

The Texans lost. Again.

It’s not the first time that’s happened this season. Two weeks ago, the Texans lost in a blowout: 36-7, to the Chicago Bears. That loss officially eliminated them from playoff contention.

Last week, the Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts. With less than 30 seconds left, Texans wide receiver Keke Coutee fumbled at the two-yard line. It was the second time this season the team has lost to Indianapolis after a goal-line fumble. The Texans lost to the Colts, 27-20.

Today, they lost again, to the Cincinnati Bengals. Quarterback Deshaun Watson had his shoulder grabbed by Bengal Sam Hubbard, causing a strip-sack with 1:28 left. Cincinnati sealed their historic road win with a field goal. Despite Watson’s three touchdowns, the Texans lost, 37-31.

It’s their fourth straight loss. After a season in which their coach was fired, their best receiver was traded, and their offense stifled, the Texans have lost 73% of their games. They are now 4-11.

Defensive end J.J. Watt was visibly frustrated after the loss. In a postgame press conference, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year delivered an angry, emotional rant peppered with curses. He expressed recognition of his privileged position and sympathy for Texans fans. But Watt also called out his teammates for a lack of professionalism.

“We’re professional athletes getting paid a whole lot of money,” Watt said. “If you can’t come in, put in work in the building, go out to the practice field, work hard, do your lifts and do what you’re supposed to do, you should not  be here. This is a job. We’re getting paid a whole lot of money. There are a whole lot of people that watch us and invest their time and money into buying our jerseys and buying a whole bunch of s–t. And they care about it; they care every single week. We’re in Week 16, and we’re 4-11, and there’s fans that watch this game, that show up to the stadium, that put in time and energy and effort and care about this. So if you can’t go out there and you can’t work out, you can’t show up on time, you can’t practice, you can’t want to go out there to win, you shouldn’t be here.

Because this is a privilege. It’s the greatest job in the world. You get to go out and play a game. If you can’t care enough, even when you’re in week 17 — even when you’re trash, when you’re 4-11 — if you can’t go out there and give it everything you have and try your hardest, that’s bulls–t,” he said. “There are people every week that still Tweet you, that still come up to you and say, ‘Hey, we’re still rooting for you, we’re still behind you.’ They have no reason whatsoever to. We stink. But they care, and they still want to win and they still want you to be great. That’s why. Those people aren’t getting paid. We’re being paid handsomely. That’s why. That’s who I feel the most bad for, are our fans, the people who care so deeply in this city, and love it and who truly want it to be great. And it’s not. And that sucks as a player, to know we’re not giving them what they deserve.”

Watch the now-viral moment below.

UPDATE (Dec. 30): The Texans have closed their facility today after two players (safety Eric Murray and linebacker Whitney Mercilus) tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. According to the Houston Chronicle, players were not allowed to enter the team facility. Instead, they did a walk-through on the practice field and then met virtually.

“Because we have had some positives, we are basically not letting the players into the facility,” Texans interim coach Romeo Crennel said on Zoom from NRG Stadium. “But we are having a walkthrough where we’ll work for about an hour and then they’ll leave. They are not using the facility. They come in. We walk through and they leave. We are hoping to cut down on the interaction with players when you’re not on the football field. Everybody is wearing masks and we’ll get some fundamental work done we need to get done.”

UPDATE: The Texans lost their final game of the season to the Tennessee Titans (who win the AFC South). After the Texans’ 41-38 loss on Sunday, Watt and quarterback Deshaun Watson shared a poignant moment. A video has surfaced of the two walking back to the locker room after the loss. “I’m sorry,” Watt tells Watson. “We wasted one of your years.”

UPDATE (Jan. 7, 2021): Rumors are swirling that Watson may be seeking a trade. NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk intimates that “Watson has quietly broached with teammates the possibility of requesting a trade.” Trading him would result in a cap charge of $21.6 million. 

Veteran Houston Chronicle sportswriter John McClain seems convinced that Watson’s not going anywhere, and a KHOU sports reporter tonight snarkily remarked that the trade story “was written for some clicks on a website.” But just moments ago, NFL reporter Ian Rapoport revealed that Watson is unhappy with the Texans organization (who isn’t?) after being left out of crucial personnel decisions:

“Watson offered his input on potential general manager candidates, but the Texans neither considered nor consulted with those endorsed by their franchise quarterback, league sources told ESPN. “Additionally, the Texans did not inform Watson that they intended to hire Caserio, and he found out about the hire Tuesday on social media. That contributed to Watson taking to Twitter that night to post “some things never change….”

Albert Breer says that Watson advocated for Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to be head coach — but the Texans refused to even interview him, further irking Watson. Over the weekend, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Watson is still angry about the Texans’ “insensitivity to social justices, including hiring practices,” alluding to the team failing to interview Eric Bieniemy. (UPDATE: the Texans finally did request to interview Bieniemy today, Jan, 12. But the window to contact him has closed.)

Rapoport adds that Watson has not spoken to Texans brass in days — though they have tried to call him. This gives new grist to the rumor mill that Watson may be looking for greener pastures. At least one former Texans player is suggesting that some teams may be interested in Watson:

UPDATE: A Texans legend has weighed in on the situation. Legendary Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson set tongues wagging with a tweet today: “If I’m @deshaunwatson I will stand my ground,” Johnson wrote. “The Texans organization is known for wasting players careers. Since Jack Easterby has walk into the building nothing good has happened in/for the organization and for some reason someone can’t seem to see what’s going on. Pathetic!!!”

Johnson’s tweet took a shot at Texans VP of football operations Jack Easterby, which generated lots of online chatter. But former Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins backed Johnson up, quoting Johnson’s original tweet and adding: “When Dre speak listen.”

UPDATE: Former Texans tight end Joel Dreessen also backed Johnson. Asked for comment, Dreessen tweeted: “All I know is when Dre would speak, he was always worth listening to. I don’t know Easterby at all, but it pains me to see how badly the Texans have been put in reverse. Whether it was him or BOB [former head coach Bill O’Brien] who chased off players like Duane, Clowney, Hopkins…& gave up 1st round picks.”

Titans Win Thriller in Overtime vs. Texans

The Tennessee Titans overcame costly turnovers and a valiant opponent to win today’s game against the Houston Texans. The Titans rallied from a seven-point deficit late in the fourth to win in overtime, 42-36.

The Tennessee Titans jumped out to an early lead. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill found tight end Anthony Firkser for a touchdown to make it 7-0. The Titans’ next drive featured a 34-yard carry from running back Derrick Henry, who has become a leading rusher in the NFL. With twelve seconds left in the quarter, Tannehill found receiver A.J. Brown for the touchdown. That gave Tennessee a 14-0 lead.

But the Texans answered with a score of their own. A 13-play drive led to the team’s first TD. On 4th and goal, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass to tight end Darren Fells. That helped the Texans get on the scoreboard, 14-7, in the second quarter.

The Titans took over for a drive marked by some crucial third-down conversions. On 3rd and 12, Titans’ Jonnu Smith had a 13-yard pickup, breaking tackles to extend the drive. Then Firkser had another critical catch on 3rd down. Minutes later — out of nowhere — Tannehill launched a 22-yard pass to Adam Humphries for the touchdown.

The Texans’ drive was hampered by penalties — Tytus Howard got flagged first for a chop block and then for holding. But the Texans prevailed to garner some points. Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn knocked through a field goal as time expired. The Titans led the Texans 21-10 at halftime.

But the second half was a completely different story. Houston scored to narrow the lead, 21-17. Tennessee struggled offensively, with a blocked field goal, a punt, and a fumble on its subsequent possessions. The sack came courtesy of J.J. Watt, who tackled Tannehill and forced him to fumble. That made it 1st and goal for the Texans, and they wasted no time scoring. Watson hit WR Randall Cobb for a touchdown. The extra-point kick by Fairbairn was no good. But the Texans were now leading 23-21, and the momentum had completely shifted.

As the third quarter went on, Firkser made another critical catch, and McNichols had a 15-yard play just before the quarter ended. The fourth quarter began with a missed field goal by Stephen Gostkowski (who’d had a previous field goal blocked). All the momentum appeared to be on the Texans’ side. But their drive stalled. Watson was sacked.

Then, on the next possession, Derrick Henry dazzled viewers with a 94-yard touchdown run. The Titans decided to attempt a two-point conversion; they succeeded. The end-zone catch by receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine made it 29-23. But then the Texans struck back, with a stunning 53-yard TD courtesy of Watson and WR Will Fuller.

On their next drive, the Titans suffered a major setback when Tannehill was intercepted by Texans corner Bradley Roby. The Texans cashed in with a TD by WR Brandin Cooks. But, instead of kickiing the exta point and making it a eight-point game, Texans head coach Romeo Crennel elected to go for two. But the two-point conversion was no good. That left the score 36-29, with just 1:50 remaining.

Scrambling, the Titans hurried to score before time ran out. Tannehill went on a tear, throwing one completed pass after another. But they did some run plays, too. Henry rushed for one play; McNichols ran on another. But the clock continued to run. 1:10 became :53, and 53 seconds soon turned into 30. Then it ran down to 10. With just seconds remaining, Tannehill threw to receiver A.J. Brown, for the touchdown. That left the game tied, 36-36, with just four seconds left.

The game went into overtime. The Titans launched a down-the-field drive that ended in spectacular fashion: Henry got the ball and ran into the end zone for the touchdown. (Henry ran for 264 yards, according to the NFL. He becomes the first NFL player EVER to have 200 yards rushing in three straight seasons.) In the end, it was Henry’s late-game heroics that won the day. The Titans won in overtime, 42-36.

The Tennessee Titans (5-0) remain undefeated.

Chiefs and Texans Unite on NFL Season Opener

By Terrance Turner

Tonight, the NFL season began with a highly anticipated match. The Super Bowl-defending Kansas City Chiefs played against the Houston Texans — but not before a major statement. The national anthem was performed by Chloe and Halle, who wore T-shirts that honored George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — both Black people slain by police this year.

After the anthem, Alicia Keys’ version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (informally known as “the black national anthem” played at Arrowhead Stadium. The Texans remained in the locker room for both anthems, then emerged for an unusual display. After they came on the field, both teams locked arms in a show of unity; in the center were Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Remarkably, fans (who only filled 22% of the stadium) began booing.

There were many opinions about this development:

Another distressing development: the absence of intros. Despite being a Thursday night game, tonight’s contest happened on NBC, which typically airs “Sunday Night Football”. Tonight’s match unfolded much like a typical Sunday night contest, with SNF commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. But the very thing that made “Sunday Night Football” different from every other broadcast — the player introductions, where each player appears on the screen to state his name and the college he went to — were gone. Michaels explained the disappearance of the intros by saying that “we couldn’t get into [training] camps to do them.”

Do players not have smartphones? Are they not able to record their introductions on the field before (or after) the game? Are they not allowed to be filmed in the locker room? Can the players not record intros during the Zoom press conferences while they answer questions? Many observers lamented their absence during tonight’s broadcast:

OK. Back to the game.

The first touchdown of the NFL season came courtesy of running back David Johnson, who rushed into the end zone early to put the Texans up 7-0. Johnson temporarily silenced the deafening chatter of fans who objected to the trade that brought him to the Texans and sent DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals. But it would be the last time the Texans held the lead.

The Chiefs responded almost immediately, with a successful 11-play drive. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce, tying the game. Then the Chiefs gained the lead when Mahomes found Sammy Watkins in the end zone. A field goal by their kicker Harrison Butker put the Chiefs up 17-7 at the half.

In the third quarter, we saw further dominance by rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. (He replaces Chiefs RB Damien Williams, who opted out this season due to concerns about COVID-19. His mother has cancer.) Edwards-Helaire made his debut with a sensational performance, running for 136 yards. His 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter padded the Chiefs’ lead. Then Chiefs rookie L’Jarius Sneed picked off Watson’s pass near the end of the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Mahomes’ interception was negated by a pass interference call against the Texans. Saved by the flag, Mahomes threw a dart to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. That gave the Chiefs a commanding 31-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Texans managed to make things more respectable: Watson himself rushed in for a touchdown, then later found Texans tight end Jordan Akins for another score. But that would be the end of the scores for the Houston Texans. The Chiefs sealed their fate when Butker drilled another field goal to give them the win: 34-20.

“There’s a lot to fix,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said after the Texans’ loss. “It’s only one game. We have to improve pretty quickly. But it’s only one game . We have to get back to work pretty soon and fix these things.” They play the Ravens on Sept. 20.