Last week, the Houston Texans embarked on a two-pronged effort to a) restock their quarterback depth chart after star quarterback Deshaun Watson was injured and b) not sign anyone named Colin Kaepernick.
They succeeded by bringing in Matt McGloin, who was last seen completing a whopping eight passes in 2016 for the Oakland Raiders. Few were surprised he was available. Houston’s spin was that this was a third-string position and coach Bill O’Brien knew McGloin from their days together at Penn State.
Days later the Texans cut McGloin, who was apparently so bad in the few practice reps he got that he was fired without ever seeing any game action. (Tom Savage went just 19-for-44 in Houston’s 20-14 loss to a dreadful Indianapolis team Sunday). So much for those fond days in State College for O’Brien and McGloin.
“Colin Kaepernick’s a good football player,” O’Brien said Monday. “Hasn’t played football in a while.”
True, not since last year when he was a starter in San Francisco. Except, the day after O’Brien’s comment, McGloin was jettisoned and the Texans signed Josh Johnson, who hasn’t completed a pass in a regular-season NFL game since … 2011.
He hasn’t even seen the field since 2013. Ten years out of the University of San Diego, he has played in just 29 games.
Johnson threw 22 passes this preseason and looked OK. Of course, the New York Giants still cut him and no one else picked him up.
Look, the Texans, and every other NFL team, are fully within their rights to not want to hire Kaepernick. There is no obligation to do so. Unless the decision was part of an organized league-wide collusion plan, which Kaepernick alleges in a lawsuit, then it’s legal. They can even say they won’t because they don’t like his protests or his grievance against them.
Kaepernick chose to sit and then kneel a year ago, fully aware there would be backlash. This is the backlash.
Still, he stood up for his beliefs.
It’s be nice if the Texans did the same.
Just admit the franchise is not going to sign Kaepernick under any circumstance. Stop dressing up these ridiculous signings with equally ridiculous excuses.
Make a statement about what the organization believes in. Plenty of fans will applaud it. Others will appreciate the honesty. For business purposes, it might even make sense to avoid Kaepernick. If so, explain that. And while some fans would get angry, many others would be ambivalent.
Protests were never a big thing in Houston. No Texans player had even knelt for the anthem until a couple weeks ago, when some 40 of them did in response to team owner Bob McNair saying he didn’t want “the inmates running the prison.” That was a self-inflicted wound.
So too, in football terms, is this.
Is Kaepernick the savior? Probably not, but who knows? He wasn’t as good the past few years as earlier in his career, when Jim Harbaugh coached him and the Niners made the Super Bowl. He’s likely better than what they have though. And his potential is undeniably greater. Savage has been terrible and backup T.J. Yates still can’t beat him out.
The third position would be a perfect spot to bring in someone like Kaepernick and see what he still has for a week or so. If the concern is he hasn’t played much football lately, then have him play (or at least practice).
When a team is taking weekly flyers on Matt McGloin and Josh Johnson, when a team is flailing about in search of some way to right the ship on a once promising season, then in football terms what the heck is there to lose? Why just give up?
Would having a one-time starter on the third string ruin chemistry? If so, drop Kaepernick as quickly as McGloin got dropped. Would Kaepernick’s mere presence divide and distract the locker room? That wasn’t the case in San Francisco. And if it did occur, then, sure, cut him.
If he thrives, then play him. Watson is the man here, so no one thinks Kaepernick is the long-term answer. And Watson is a mobile quarterback, so it’s not about reinventing the wheel.
The other option is the season’s continued descent into the dumpster – 3-5 and fading fast.
The Texans want to pretend that they have an evaluation system that keeps finding players more suitable than Kaepernick. That same system gave them McGloin who they then immediately realized was incapable. So, maybe change the system. Or be honest and tell the players, the fans and everyone else that you’d rather have anyone other than Colin Kaepernick as your quarterback. Say you’re OK with losing because the national anthem means that much to the organization.
At least you could say you’re standing up for something, results and public opinion be damned. Like Kaepernick is doing.
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