Sunday, November 17, 2013
Andre Johnson is justifiably perturbed
By Tania Ganguli
HOUSTON -- "I messed up, I'll leave it at that," Andre Johnson said with a tired-looking smile following the Houston Texans' eighth consecutive loss.
He was talking about the Texans' final offensive play of the game, one that sparked a heated discussion between he and quarterback Matt Schaub. Schaub entered the game late in the third quarter after Texans coach Gary Kubiak benched Case Keenum. After jawing at each other, Johnson walked off the field, away from Schaub.
Johnson said this emphatically after the game: "Matt and I are fine."
He added that he and Schaub talked more in the locker room after they'd each cooled off. Schaub echoed that the two players had no problem with each other.
Players get into it with each other and even coaches on the field sometimes. They get frustrated. They yell. They wave their arms around sometimes. But Johnson's actions were just one sign of mounting frustration for the best player in franchise history.
Johnson slogged through five losing seasons to start his career and didn't have a winning season until his eighth year in the NFL, when the Texans went 9-7. His team finally made the playoffs in 2011 and 2012. With consecutive playoff seasons and a roster that seemed to be getting only better, Johnson thought the days of losing were behind him. Asked last week how tough this season has been, he said it was the most frustrating he has been through because of the expectations.
Now the Texans are 2-8, on a franchise record eight-game losing streak.
"I'm under contract, so I have to play my contract out," Johnson said, when asked if he was happy playing for the Texans moving forward. "I can't do anything about that."
Once more, he was asked if he would be willing to go through more losing seasons as he had before.
"I've always said this is where I wanted to be, so I don’t really have anything to say about that," Johnson said. "I still have an ongoing contract."
It was noted to Johnson that he could ask for a trade.
"Yeah, they can," he said. "I don’t know. I never asked for a trade. Did you hear anything about that?"
His contract goes through the 2016 season, and it's one that has been reworked repeatedly to help alleviate salary cap issues.
He isn't going to ask for a trade, that's just not who Johnson is. But his frustration at this season is completely understandable. Johnson doesn't have another 10 years to be patient through another rebuild. He has never looked elsewhere, he has never even reached free agency. He's stuck with a team, believing in its plan, and now that plan is crumbling.
Is he the same player he was five years ago? No. But last week's two acrobatic touchdowns and the previous week's three touchdowns showed Johnson is still a top-tier receiver, having adjusted to what he does well now.
When Johnson came to Houston, he joined a struggling expansion team looking for an identity. He has already been through one additional rebuild here. It would be a shame if his career ended with another rebuild, on a team that's once again searching for an identity.