The football gods clearly won't let Houstonians have nice things.
Already saddled with a tortured history laced with playoff and regular season disappointment and heartbreak aplenty, and carrying around the burden of a 357 day streak of winless football, it wasn't in the cards to have the gods just leave us alone for a week and let us enjoy our 17-6 win over the Washington Redskins, hideous as it may have been to non-Houstonians.
No, they had to lace our sweet bowl of J.J. Watt Butter Brickle ice cream (or whatever flavor he pimps for HEB this week) with a scoop of Clowney Torn Meniscus Turd.
As we talked about yesterday in "4 Winners, 4 Losers", the Texans rookie first overall pick tweaked his right knee in the second quarter of the Texans win over the Redskins on Sunday, leaving for the remainder of the contest and causing some overnight worry about what the prognosis would be for the rest of his rookie year.
After clarification on Sunday evening that Clowney indeed tore his meniscus, on Monday, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien clarified the latest with Clowney at his weekly Monday afternoon press conference.
"Right now, he underwent arthroscopic surgery this morning and he'll probably be out from 4-6 weeks," O'Brien offered. When asked if the surgery was for a meniscus tear, O'Brien got coy, "I'm not a doctor, so I don't know. It was just something, they went in there and tried to fix it and it seems like it went well, and he'll be out 4-6 weeks."
So, from where we all sit, here are the important questions as pertains to the Clowney Situation (yes, as the first overall pick in the draft, Clowney's situation gets proper noun status, like the Bonnie Situation in Pulp Fiction):
1. How difficult will the absence of Clowney really be over the next month or so? If you pretend for a second that the Texans drafted a quarterback with the first overall pick, you'd be going to battle essentially with the defense that ended the game on Sunday against Washington, with a healthy Brian Cushing, a healthy and motivated Johnathan Joseph, a renewed and refreshed Brooks Reed, and the ubiquitous J.J. Watt. That's a pretty good group, right?
Now add in that the next four games are against a rookie quarterback related to David Carr, Eli Manning (whose relation to Peyton Manning is not relevant), E.J. Manuel (who is bad enough to compel the Bills to spend $11 million on Kyle Orton), and Tony Romo (three picks Sunday). If you're a Texans fan, sports-prayer for Clowney's return by the Thursday home game on 10/9 against Indy is both reasonable and acceptable.
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2. How concerned should we be about Clowney's overall health? Anywhere from moderately to very. Consider that Clowney is only 21 years old and in the last 13 months (maybe longer) he's dealt with rib cage strains, bone spurs on his foot, groin issues, a sports hernia, two concussions, and now knee surgery. Guys like this don't tend to become healthier over time, and guys with that body type that feel too good to be true, often are. At least when they play for Houston teams.
3. How concerned should we be about the overall health of NRG Stadium's grass? The one salacious nugget to come out of the Monday media sessions was safety D.J. Swearinger revealing to Albert Breer of the NFL Network that Clowney suffered the injury when his foot landed in one of the "holes" in the field, presumably referring to the infamous ridges where the slats of grass meet each other on NRG Stadium's turf. These same turf goblins have, in the past, swallowed up Wes Welker's ACL and possibly ended the career of former Texans punter Brett Hartman (according to his lawsuit against the county). The condition of the grass field at NRG Stadium has long been an issue with players and coaches, and given that the recent LSU-Wisconsin game used field turf (everyone seemed to enjoy themselves) and the Texans recently invested $100 million in J.J. Watt, the permanent conversion to field turf must be discussed, right?
4. Um, Whitney Mercilus??? This is a big year for Mercilus, as he heads into the third year of his rookie contract. This is the season after which the Texans must decide whether or not to extend his four year deal by one more year. Right now, that answer would probably be "No," but these next few games give the former first round pick a chance to prove he can play at a high level. He needs to take advantage.