We are in the NFL Draft portion of the league’s calendar, and you will be seeing all kinds of smoke over the next eight weeks from national media about the rising or falling stock of certain players. Most of these narratives are driven by sources near the players, such as agents or personal position coaches. This is a completely normal part of the draft process, and it can be fun to consume, if you just take it for what it is, and don’t digest it too seriously.
One thing we are unaccustomed to seeing this time of year is those same sources similarly pumping up the skills and resume of existing NFL players, such as a fifth year quarterback who missed last season amidst a sea of sexual assault accusations via civil lawsuits. Indeed, though, that’s exactly what we got when Deshaun Watson’s personal quarterback coaches, Quincy Avery and Jordan Palmer, did a 34-minute appearance on The Ringer’s “Ryen Rusillio Podcast.”
Avery and Palmer opined on a number of topics, including the current crop of quarterbacks set to be drafted in late April, but it was when the conversation turned to Watson where Avery fired off a shot at Watson’s soon-to-be (once he is traded) former teammates with the 2020 Texans. After gushing about how awesome Watson has looked in workouts recently, Avery said this regarding the last time he saw Watson on the field:
“(People) might have forgot that his last year in Houston, when he played, he was carrying like three guys who could have been working at your local Walmart at the receiver position and he went absolutely berserk. If he gets on a team with any sort of talent around him, somebody’s going to have to really watch out.”
The full audio clip can be found here:
So this shot fired by Avery begs a few questions:
Did Watson REALLY go “absolutely berserk” in 2020?
Well, I suppose it depends on what you value in your quarterback. If “absolutely berserk” means passing yards and highlight reel plays behind a bad offensive line, then Watson is indeed The Berserker. He led the league in passing yards with 4,823 yards, and made plenty of plays that very few humans could ever make. On the other hand, the Texans were just 4-12 in 2020, and the offense that Watson oversaw was the 19th ranked scoring offense in football. Not exactly berserk, in my opinion. Look, Watson is a phenomenally talented football player, who unfortunately exercises far better judgment under center than he does in scheduling massages. Let’s get to the part you call came here for, though….
Which three 2020 Texans receivers was Avery likely referring to as “Walmart workers”?
Here is the list of every Texans wide receiver from 2020 with five catches or more:
COOKS (81 catches)
I didn’t include any tight ends or running backs, but probably could have, since I could easily see Jordan Akins, Pharaoh Brown, or David Johnson rocking that blue Walmart vest. I am going to absolve Brandin Cooks of any Avery Walmart shrapnel, as I think even Avery has respect for Cooks’ consistent ability to crank out 1,000 yard seasons. Will Fuller is probably viewed fairly highly by Watson’s inner circle, as Watson’s numbers with and without Will Fuller off the field are strikingly different. Watson was a different guy, in a good way, in the limited games Fuller would play.
That leaves us with five guys — Randall Cobb, Keke Coutee, Chad Hansen, Kenny Stills, Stevie Mitchell. I am going to go with Coutee (chronic fumbler), Chad Hansen (total journeyman, albeit a handsome one!), and Mitchell (career practice squad guy). For the record, all three of them are VERY friendly, so I think they are tailor-made to be GREETERS at Walmart.
Palmer had his own set of Watson assertions, so is Watson really an automatic MVP candidate?
If you’re wondering what Palmer comments I am referring to, listen to these clips, where Palmer says in EACH clip that Watson will be a Top 3 candidate for MVP of the LEAGUE next season:
So, is this more carnival barking from Watson inner circle truthers, or is Palmer onto something here? Look, I said myself earlier this week that Watson is a decent value at 40/1 for league MVP, but I don’t think it’s an automatic candidacy like Palmer does. For the record, I think the trade suitors that give Watson the best chance to win an MVP award in 2022 would be Minnesota and Denver, for similar reasons. Both have really good overall rosters, and both present the chance to face off against top MVP candidates TWICE during the season — Minnesota faces Aaron Rodgers twice per season, and Denver faces Patrick Mahomes twice, as well.
Should Watson be putting a muzzle on guys like Avery and Palmer?
If Watson were coming back to the Texans in 2022, then I would say “Absolutely!”. The last thing Deshaun needs is a loose cannon personal QB coach who throws shade at Watson’s teammates, although admittedly the only wide receiver still with the team from 2020 is Cooks. I think I would still say that Watson needs to have a chat with Avery, as this isn’t the first time he has made Watson-related news.
Just before last season’s trade deadline, Avery was one of the first ones to spill the beans publicly that a Watson trade was imminent. Eventually, the trade with Miami didn’t work, because Watson couldn’t settle the civil lawsuits in time for the trade deadline. For now, with Watson on the sideline until his legal situation is resolved, I guess let Avery and Palmer speak their minds. If nothing else, it’s good for those of us in the content generation business!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 am to 10 am weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.