When you think of Jadeveon Clowney, do you think of a unanimous All-American? How about a Ted Hendricks Award winner? Or even the guy who finished sixth in the Heisman voting in 2012, as a defensive player? Maybe you think of him as a former number one overall pick by the Houston Texans, who was picked ahead of two Defensive Players of the Year, in Khail Mack and Aaron Donald? Imagine having to deal with Khail Mack on one end and then J.J Watt on the other! Or Aaron Donald in the middle of the D-line and Watt on the end! But the Texans got an oft-injured player who has never fully lived up to those lofty number one overall pick expectations.
Clowney has never gotten to double-digit sacks, getting to 9.5 in 2017. Sure he has made three pro-bowls, but for a number one pick who has never gotten a double-digit sack season, I think that's not the level of production that the Texans wanted, especially if they could have gotten Mack or Donald. Clowney’s best season came in 2017 when he posted 9.5 sacks, 21 QB hits, made 59 tackles, which 21 of them went for loss, had 2 passes defended, and recovered three fumbles. Best of all, in that season he played in all 16 games, which he has yet to do again. That year his defensive coordinator, and outside linebackers coaches were Mike Vrabel, and Shane Bowen, respectively. Vrabel is now the Titans head coach, and Bowen holds the same position as he did that year with Houston and calls the defensive plays.
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Two years later, when he wanted to be paid, Bill O’Brien traded him to Seattle, where he had some ups and some downs, and a helmet to helmet hit on Carson Wentz. At the end of last season, he was set to be a free agent, but what would his market look like?
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Touted as one of the biggest names in free agency, his interest wasn’t as aggressive. The Tennessee Titans came calling in August, paying the former Texan and Seahawk 13 million plus incentives. Did they think he would register 0 sacks in 8 games and would end up on season-ending IR after knee surgery? I don’t think so.
The 2019 Titans were a surprise, starting 2-4, benching former number two overall pick Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill, and then after sneaking into the playoffs, beating the GOAT himself, Tom Brady. Then in a game that no one thought they would win (even me), the Titans beat the Baltimore Ravens and MVP Lamar Jackson, and making the AFC Championship Game. Tennessee ended up losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champs, the Chiefs, 35-24. Their secondary was getting roasted and the pass rush couldn’t even touch QB Patrick Mahomes. So going into the offseason, after extending Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry, they looked to shore up their pass rush by signing Vic Beasley. That wound up being a disaster, as Beasley never got going with the team. But GM Jon Robinson was looking to make a splash, so in August he signed the man who was wanting to get paid like a top defender in all of football history, Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney, who’s season just ended due to knee surgery, started the season looking like he could be that game wrecker that he was hyped to be coming out of college. He was working with two guys who helped him deliver his best season ever. With him getting doubled teamed, guys like Harold Landry, Jeffrey Simmons, and Beasley could get to the QB. The Tennessee Titans could be a dominant force with this pass rush and the secondary with All-Pros like Kevin Byard, and Kenny Vaccaro. The formula was there, but then the regular season started. About four weeks in, the Titans were among the worst in the league in defense, and among the worst in history in 3rd down D. Clowney was yet to do anything big except get a block in the back on a fumble return that went for a touchdown, getting it called back. His big chance was Week 10 as the Titans played their rival the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football. Well although he had a nice play early on he didn’t really do anything in that game, which may be his last in two-tone blue.
PHOTO CREDIT: titanswire.usatoday.com
With the Titans most likely directing money to re-sign core players like Jonnu Smith, Corey Davis, and Jayon Brown this offseason, let me ask you: Will Jon Robinson resign him, or will he go to a different team? Whatever you think, is cool, but will other GMs see him as damaged goods, or will they take a chance on him? But with other star pass rushers like Shaq Barrett, Matt Judon, and Yannick Ngankue, what will happen to Clowney’s market, and what will people remember in his short stint in Tennessee. Will it remind them of his hype, or of the fact that he may be a bust? Or will it remind people that Houston could have drafted Donald or Mack? Whatever it may be Jadeveon Clowney will remain as one of the most polarizing players in the last decade.