It's been a rough couple weeks to be a Houston Texans fan, we all know this. Tomorrow will represent the two week mark since Bill O'Brien decided to jam a harpoon through the collective heart of the Texans' fan base by tasing DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. The one thing that I'm realizing very quickly — until O'Brien speaks, and probably for many years afterwards, maybe forever, I am not going to be able to make sense of that deal.
The Hopkins trade has sparked (and is still sparking) a wide range of emotions, and one of the very unfrtunate parts about the grieving process is that any player coming TO the Texans that is tied to the trade, either directly or tangentially, is going to catch heat, through no fault of his own. Running back David Johnson is a direct tie-in to the trade, as part of the package the Texans received in return for Hopkins. Wide receiver Randall Cobb, signed shortly after the trade to a three year, $27 million deal, is more of a tangential target for fan vitriol.
It's not Cobb's fault he signed with the Texans the same day as the trade, AND just so happens to play the same position as Hopkins. It's just the way it is. It's also not Cobb's fault that the Texans evidently drastically overpaid Cobb for what his services likely SHOULD have rendered. Again, it is what it is. So Cobb net with the media on Friday via conference call (social distancing!) and answered a lot of questions.
Here are six questions with intriguing Cobb responses and my reaction to them after each transcription, transcribed answers courtesy of Texans PR:
What was the primary reason you chose the Texans, and what do you think about playing with QB Deshaun Watson?
"The reason I picked the Texans is, obviously, I think that you look at what they've been able to do over the past few years – went to the playoffs four of the past five times. At this point in my career, I still don't have a ring, so I want to be in a situation where I have that possibility. I think when you look at Deshaun (Watson) and what he's been able to do since he's been in the league, I've been really impressed from afar watching him. He has tremendous ability, he's a winner. He's won at every level, from high school to college. I think he has that ability to take us to a Super Bowl and I want to be a part of something special with him."
SP: I guess this is one of those times where, if you were someone who wanted Randall Cobb badly enough, you'd be glad that the Texans at least give off a whiff of being high-level successful. I mean, they do go to the playoffs a lot. I wonder two things — first, does Randall Cobb stop watching the playoffs once the wild card round is over, and secondly, um, dude, you're getting NINE MILLION DOLLARS per year. I'm guessing that played a role.
What was free agency like having to sign with a new team without being able to go visit them?
"That's probably been the weirdest part. This is my second or third time going through free agency, and normally during the tampering period you can't really do anything anyway, but once the league year starts and you're able to go down and meet with the team and meet with the coaches and sit down and watch some film with the coaches and get a good feel for what you're getting into. I didn't get that opportunity this year, so really that's the only thing I've been doing is kind of watching some of the highlights that I could find on the internet on YouTube, and trying to get an idea. I talked to Coach (Bill) O'Brien and kind of felt the way that they're going to use me and how I can fit into the offense, but it was definitely a little weird this year. I still haven't had my physical yet, so I actually haven't signed. I live out in L.A. in the offseason right now. Everything is shut down out here, and I haven't had the opportunity to a doctor's office and get my physical yet."
SP: One of the underrated subplots of this offseason, not just for Cobb, but for all new players, will be how quickly they're able to get up to speed with the playbook and other aspects of the job. My guess is this pandemic is going to have enough legs to impact the NFL offseason, such as minicamp and OTA's, ideal time for the Cobbs of the world to familiarize themselves with the playbook. They'll have to get resourceful in doing so if those workouts are impacted.
What do you think of the Texans receiver group with guys like WR Kenny Stills and WR Will Fuller V?
"I'm a big fan of them. I think you look at Fuller whenever he's healthy and he's able to be on the field, he's an amazing athlete, he's got a lot of speed, he can take the top off the coverages, he makes some big plays downfield, and Kenny is a playmaker. Get the ball in his hands and let him do what he do. I look forward to coming in and being a piece of that. I think obviously with DeAndre (Hopkins) leaving, it's going to be a lot of eyes on all three of us to step up and make some plays, and typically me because a lot of people are looking at me and coming in and being a replacement, even though me and DeAndre are two totally different types of receivers. I look forward to the challenge and coming in and showing what I can do."
SP: Other than Deshaun Watson at quarterback, a position where the pressure is always immense, there's no other position on the team under more heavy scrutiny than receiver. Honestly, my biggest concern isn't the skill level of that group, especially if they use a second round pick on a wide receiver. My biggest concern is health, as all three of Fuller, Stills, and Cobb have had issues over the last few years. Cobb did say he'd strengthened his hamstrings before the 2019 season and that helped. I would ask him to share his exercise regimen with Fuller, whose mammies are made of soggy oatmeal.
How much did you learn from your dad about building a work ethic to help you get to where you are now?
"That's all I know. I come from a little blue-collar town, Alcoa, Tennessee, the Aluminum Company of America. That's all I've ever known. My pops, he worked at a manufacturing company there in town, and then he would come home and do handyman work for people. We would go out in the little bit of snow that we got, but when we did get it we would go out and shovel snow for other families in the neighborhood that couldn't. He's always been one that was always working, always doing something to keep busy, and I kind of picked up that trait from him. He always taught me if I wasn't working, there's somebody out there who’s working to get better than me. That's kind of how I've always looked at it, and sometimes it's been my gift and my curse. Some of the injuries I've had have come from overworking, so it's important for me to make sure that I find that balance and continue to grow as a player."
SP: OK, NOW it starts to come into focus. I can see EXACTLY why O'Brien fell in love with Cobb. Blue collar town... dad who worked two manual labor jobs... shoveling snow for other families in the neighborhood.... using the word "working" about a dozen times in one answer... THIS is an O'Brien kind of guy! Hell, I think Cobb could have gotten this contract based solely on this answer with no film out there, if he caught O'Brien in the right mood. TOUGH, SMART, DEPENDABLE, COBB!
What other teams made you offers before you made your decision to sign in Houston?
“There were a few teams that made offers or showed interest. Dallas and Houston were two teams that offered and it was a tough decision to make. Hearing what my agent was telling me about Coach (Bill) O’Brien and the opportunity that he wanted to give me to kind of do some of the things that I did when I was back in Green Bay, was one of the one of the main reasons that I jumped at the offer.”
SP: Hearing this answer, I am 95 percent sure the Texans were bidding against themselves. Let's move on before I stab my eye with a pen.
Have you had a chance to get to know any of your new teammates even though you're separated?
“No, not really. I reached out to Deshaun (Watson). Me and him text back and forth a little bit. I used to train with Kenny Stills a little bit, so I've been talking to him. Still trying to get in touch with (Will) Fuller (V) and some of the other guys. I'm going to try to get their numbers here shortly so I can reach out and call them and text them and everything. But no, obviously it's an unprecedented time with what's going on I don't know how long we're going to be stuck in L.A. and when we’re going to be able to get down to Houston and find a house and start training down there and everything. I look forward to getting to know everybody and meeting everybody and starting to mesh together.”
SP: OK, with Deshaun's frame of mind being such a huge concern, I was glad to hear that, at the very least, he is texting with one of his new teammates. Now, please, O'Brien, just give the man his money, especially if you're going to keep trading his best teammates away.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.