20 Thoughts: Clowney, Jeter, Valentine’s Day

20 Thoughts: Clowney, Jeter, Valentine’s Day
February 16, 2014, 8:00 am
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Free agency is almost here. We’re less than a month away. Then, we won’t be far from the draft and OTAs. What offseason?

Here are 20 random Texans (and other) thoughts:

1. I had a chance to catch up with D.J. Swearinger at a Play60 event at Harvard Elementary School on Thursday. Of course, we had to ask him about Jadeveon Clowney. The two played together at South Carolina, so it’s no surprise Swearinger is pushing to get Clowney to Houston.

Clowney is clearly an elite talent. There are questions about his work ethic but I think he’ll be a good NFL player. And Houston would probably be a good situation for him. The Texans have a hard-nosed coach in Bill O’Brien, who wouldn’t take any crap from Clowney, whose work ethic has come into question. Also, the Texans’ strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald kept Clowney in line when Clowney was a freshman at SC. It’s a good situation but Clowney doesn’t play quarterback. And, if you haven’t heard, the Texans need a quarterback.

2. The other interesting thing from Swearinger was how much he likes O’Brien’s team-first mentality. The Texans had large posters in Reliant Stadium for their Pro Bowl players and for players who broke team records. All of those posters are gone; O’Brien took them down. He wants to stress the importance of team-first, which means individual accomplishments don’t mean anything without team success.

3. I really like the Play60 events, by the way. It’s fun to see how excited little kids get to see a football player at their school. The kids at Harvard Elementary were great.
After Swearinger advised the kids to eat vegetables and not too much candy, one little kid asked Swearinger if they were allowed to eat any candy. Swearinger laughed and told them some candy is fine. His favorite: gummy bears.

4. I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day but I don’t get why some people seem to hate it so much. Bitter much? Remember how awesome Valentine’s Day was as a kid? It was great holiday when we were all in elementary school. I say it’s time adults band together and bring back elementary school Valentine’s Day. We should all make mailboxes out of paper bags and construction paper, give out cards with super heroes and eat candy hearts. See, much better.

5. How bad is the AFC South? The Texans have the first pick in the draft and the Jaguars have the third pick. It’s the first time one division has had two of the top three picks since 2006, when the – you guessed it – AFC South picked first and third. Back then, the Texans used their first-overall pick on Mario Williams and the Titans used the third pick on Vince Young.

6. According to ESPN, the Texans have a really easy schedule in 2014. Their opponents had a .441 winning percentage in 2013, ranking the Texans’ schedule 30th in the NFL.

That sounds good but it doesn’t really mean much. There’s so much parity in the NFL. Here’s the example: the Texans were supposed to have an easy schedule in 2013 and it wasn’t. They were supposed to have the fifth easiest in 2013 but they ended up with the second toughest. Their 2013 opponents went from a .473 winning percentage in 2012 to a .559 in 2013.

7. There’s this weird perception among some folks that Derek Jeter isn’t as great as the national media makes him out to be. I disagree. Jeter is an all-time great and he would have been no matter where he played. And, sorry, Houston, he’s just a better player than Craig Biggio was. That’s not a knock on Biggio; it’s about Jeter.

There are three players in MLB history with a .300 average, 3,300 hits and 250 homers: Stan Musial, Hank Aaron and Jeter.

8. For as good as Jeter has been on the field, he's arguably better off it. ESPN made this graphic of the Jeter dating diamond, which sparked a debate among some friends and co-workers about what the batting order would be. Here's what I came up with:

      1. Jessica Biel, RF
      2. Minka Kelly, C
      3. Jessica Alba, CF
      4. Tyra Banks, DH
      5. Scarlett Johansson, SS
      6. Adriana Lima, 2B
      7. Vanessa Minnillo, 3B
      8. Jordana Brewster, 1B
      9. Mariah Carey, LF
      P: Hannah Davis

9. Two great things you need to read from local writers. One is from John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. John spent time with Johnny Manziel in San Diego, where the former Aggie is preparing for the NFL draft.

The other is from Tania Ganguli of ESPN. Tania visited Michael Sam’s brother in jail. She tells the pretty incredible story of Sam’s upbringing and family.

10. Sam showed incredible guts by coming out before the draft. Good for him.  

11. The USA-Russia hockey game that I had to wake up way too early for on Saturday morning was so worth it. T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Quick put on a masterful performance in the shootout with the whole world watching. It still feels great when the USA beats Russia, doesn’t it?

The Olympics are so fun for this reason: normally the country is split by our sports teams and that’s OK. But every two years we all get to root for the same team and it’s awesome.

12. On Thursday, Ed Reed had $50,000 in cash stolen from his car in Houston … $50,000! According to a report, Reed got the money from a different bank and had the cash stolen from his car at the Bank of America on 12000 block of Westheimer.

I can’t fathom having $50,000 in cash, let alone having it stolen. But, to be fair, $50K to Reed isn’t $50K to you or I.

The news of the money being stolen did of course bring a few jokes. “Ed Reed had a chance to tackle the robber but he took a bad angle.” “Reed said he’ll watch the security footage film with anyone.”

13. I did a series last week, where I picked five Texans who might have breakout years in 2014. I chose, Ryan Griffin, Brandon Brooks, DeVier Posey, Jared Crick and Brandon Harris.

The one I got the most backlash on was Harris and I understand why. The corner hasn’t lived up to his 2011 second-round pick. But Harris, at times, has shown some really nice flashes during games. It’s an added bonus that he can play safety too. With how much Brice McCain struggled last year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harris get time as the nickel corner, which is an extremely important position in the NFL.

14. I really like that Manziel issued a warning to the Texans. "It would be the worst decision they've ever made," Manziel said to McClain about the possibility the Texans don’t take him.

Confidence isn’t a bad thing as long as it doesn’t get in the way. In fact, a team wouldn’t want a quarterback who wasn’t confident in his own abilities. It seems like lacking confidence isn’t a problem for Manziel.

15. I have never curled before but I think if I wanted to be in the next winter Olympics, that would probably be my best shot, right? Curling seems more like a bar game than an Olympic sport.

16. Clowney said he wants to run a 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. If he does, it would be an incredible feat.

Sure, plenty of players have run a 4.4 before but Clowney is listed at 6-6, 274 pounds. That’s a giant man running really fast.

Last year at the Combine, 13 players ran a 4.4 or faster. Six, were corner backs, five were wide receivers and two were running backs. The fastest time for a defensive lineman last year was 4.57 from Trevardo Williams. Williams was drafted by the Texans in the fourth round as an outside linebacker.
Clowney will be a lineman in the NFL. Manny Lawson, who was a lineman in college but is a linebacker in the NFL, ran a 4.43 in 2006.

17. The 40 time doesn’t mean everything. In 2011, J.J. Watt had the 15th best 40 time among defensive linemen. He ran a 4.84.

Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph has the eighth best 40 time since 2006. In 2008, he ran a 4.31. The fastest time? Chris Johnson ran a 4.24 in 2008. That’s cheetah fast.

18. April 5 will be a fun day at Minute Maid Park. The Astros will sign Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt to one-day contracts so they can retire as Astros. Then, they’ll have a special ceremony before the game. Neither player will end up in the Hall of Fame but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have really good careers.

19. Berkman finished his career with a .293 average, 1,905 hits and 366 home runs. Since 1999, when Berkman entered the league, six players have hit over .290 with 1,900 hits and 350 home runs: Berkman, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Cabrera and Chipper Jones.

20. Oswalt finished his career with a 102-61 record to go along with a 3.36 ERA and 1,852 strikeouts.

Since 2001, when Oswalt entered the league, three pitchers have won 100 games with over 1,800 strikeouts and an ERA under 3.4: Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Johan Santana.