As the holdout of Texans left tackle Duane Brown lingers, it makes sense for now to play rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, given (as coach Bill O’Brien noted after Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars) Watson’s ability to escape the pocket. It would make far more sense for the Texans to escape the predicament of not having Brown.
So will they have him soon?
“Again, I have no idea,” O’Brien told reporters on Monday. “I really don’t. I really wouldn’t be able to answer that question at all. I coach the team. The thing that I am in charge of is what you saw yesterday which wasn’t very good and we are trying to work better at it. I’m in charge of what happens on Sundays, who plays and how we play. Other than that, I don’t really have anything to report to you because I don’t know.”
The man who does know is G.M. Rick Smith. But, as one source with knowledge of the situation puts it, Smith seems to have little or no motivation to get the situation fixed.
It may just be a negotiating ploy, a corporate philosophy aimed at not encouraging other players to play the same game. It also may be, as one source has speculated, a lack of interest by Smith in reaching for the proverbial brass ring in 2017 by putting the absolute best players on the field. Or maybe it was his way of forcing Watson onto the field sooner than later, given that Watson is indeed the better option when, as it happened on Sunday, 58 drop backs produce a whopping 26 pressures and 10 sacks.
Another theory could be that Smith and O’Brien simply don’t see eye to eye. With Brown out, O’Brien is placed in a very tough spot, which could hasten his exit and the arrival of a different coach in 2018 — a coach who could be more easily lured to Houston if it appears that a young franchise quarterback is under contract for four more seasons.
Even if Brown were to walk through the door right now, chances are he wouldn’t be helping the team any time soon, and definitely not in little more than 72 hours when the Texans face a Bengals team that will be equally desperate for a win. Regardless, the sooner Brown returns, the better suited the Texans will be to salvage a season that isn’t lost yet — but that quickly could be.