Since the Houston Texans drafted Jadeveon Clowney in the 2014 NFL draft, they were hoping that the combination of his skill set along with an already dominate J.J. Watt would become a dynamic tandem of pass rushers for the team’s defense.
A few weeks ago, Watt was asked how it felt to have Clowney back from his most recent injury issue. J.J. Watt answered the question and then went on to praise the guy who replaces Clowney when the former number one overall pick misses time.
“It’s good. I think Whitney (Mercilus) played a heck of a game,” said Watt. “You look at what Whitney did out there, he had 3.5 sacks. If you give him the one where he got the facemask penalty, it’s 4.5. The guy is playing great football, so you have to give him credit.”
Watt wasn’t asked about Whitney Mercilus during his media session, but praised the linebacker who was rewarded for a good season filling in for Clowney in 2014 with a new contract before the 2015 season before being moved around and used as a secondary outside linebacker to Clowney.
Clowney recorded his first NFL sack a week prior to Watt’s praise of Mercilus. When the media asked Watt how he felt about his fellow teammate getting his first sack he simply said, “That’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s his job. To sack the quarterback.”
Was J.J. trying to send a message to the coaches and Clowney or just praise a good performance by Mercilus?
Perhaps it was a coincidence, but probably not. Clowney has had his desire questioned ever since his junior year when talk of him sitting out the year to avoid injury was rampant. Clowney then put up weak numbers for South Carolina during the 2013 season and seemed to irritate his old head coach Steve Spurrier.
When speaking on the work ethic of Clowney, the old ball coach said he was “ok,” then praised players like Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram and Marcus Lattimore.
“He was OK. It wasn’t like Marcus Lattimore, you know, every player is a little different,” Spurrier said per ProFootballTalk.com. “His work habits are pretty good, they’re not quite like Lattimore, maybe Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, some of those guys, but when the ball is snapped he’s got something no one else has.”
Sound a little like Watt’s response? Perhaps it’s time a leader like J.J. tries a more direct approach to letting Clowney know how he is perceived. Maybe that could light a fire under the sophomore player. Because until a fire is lit, he will continue to be one of the most impressive athletes with one of the least impressive stat lines in the NFL.
Rumors about J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney’s lack of a relationship or even hostile relationship have been brewing for a while. From what I saw on Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints, things between them could be ready to implode.
There was never any communication between them while they both were on the field. When J.J. makes a great play, his teammates celebrated his efforts but Clowney is nowhere in the mix. On the flip side, when Clowney made great plays, his teammates celebrated his efforts but Watt was not around.
Although the Texans defense is playing at an all-time high, you have to wonder about the future of the defensive front and its chemistry when two of its star players aren’t getting along. There’s no doubt about Watt’s dominance on defense. There’s also no doubting Clowney’s athletic ability. We’ll have to see how this unfolds moving forward.