Jaelen Strong – Cut for being too talented?

If you follow the Texans, you very well may have come across the name Patrick Starr. With over 12,000 Twitter followers, a respectable website, and even the occasional appearance on local sports talk radio, one might expect that he’s adept at providing meaningful and thought-provoking content about the hometown boys.

Such is most definitely not the case with one of his more recent offerings: The Football Reasons the Texans Parted Ways with Jaelen Strong. But before we get into that…

I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t go off on bloggers who write about the Texans. Most of them are just extremely loyal fans who enjoy putting their opinions out there in cyberspace because they mistakenly think that others will enjoy reading them (I know what you’re thinking, so stop it right now). But seeing as how Starr has acquired quite the following and even appears on the radio for crying out loud, I figure he’s fair game.

Buckle up, kids:

“With the 2017 season so young, it was surprising when Jaelen Strong was moved from the Houston Texans roster this week.”

Couldn’t agree more. Weak wide receiving corps, rookie quarterback, abysmal offensive line. The more help we have at that position, the better. What the hell, Texans front office?

“Strong served a one-game suspension due to an arrest over a year ago (prior to the 2016 season) which apparently played no bearing on the organization moving on from him.”

Wow. The Texans thought enough of the guy to keep him around despite the weed arrest, then suddenly dropped him after his first appearance of the season? Even more surprising. What are these jokers over on Kirby doing?

“From a football standpoint, Strong was on the outside looking in during training camp, with the Texans giving plenty others opportunities. Even when injuries hit DeAndre Hopkins, Braxton Miller, and Will Fuller, the Texans opted to work Dres Anderson and Bruce Ellington before Strong.”

So, maybe it wasn’t a surprise that he was cut? I’m confused. I mean, if he couldn’t even get on the field during training camp, even with a severely depleted wide receiver corps, why would it be surprising that the team parted ways with him?

I won’t profess to be an expert on these types of things, but I’m fairly certain that making a statement in your opening paragraph and then almost immediately offering evidence that contradicts that statement is the very definition of a poorly constructed argument.

“That was the start of the Texans figuring out that there could be a life without Jaelen Strong in Houston.”

It had to be absolutely gut-wrenching for the Texans to even consider life without Jaelen Strong. I can’t even begin to imagine the enormity of the struggle to put aside the fond memories of life with Jaelen Strong: when Houston traded up in the 2015 draft to select him with the sixth pick of the third round, only to see him miss 14 games in his first two seasons, catch a grand total of 28 passes during that same time frame, and serve a suspension for marijuana possession.

“Strong took 20 snaps on Thursday in his first game back and most of his work came in sets with 3 wide receivers in empty formations. He was not even targeted once or even glanced at in the passing game to attempt a look.”

I have no idea what in the hell that second sentence means, so I mentally chopped off the phrase “to attempt a look” to keep my head from caving in on itself.

Notice what Starr is doing here. So far, he’s assigned absolutely none of the blame for Strong’s release to Strong himself. The Texans opted to work other receivers in camp. His arrest had no bearing on their decision to move on from him. It has nothing to do with his not getting open in games or being bad at football, it’s because he wasn’t targeted or even glanced at in the passing game.

Remember, this is a high third round pick (that the team traded up in the draft to select) who showed up to rookie minicamp 20 pounds over his playing weight after notoriously giving a post-draft interview to local radio host Sean Pendergast from The Cheesecake Factory.

“Even with the wide receiver shortage, the Texans opted to go with Ervin and other sets that did not feature more than two wide receivers.”

It’s as though Starr views Bill O’Brien as some sort of crazed supervillain, twirling his handlebar moustache while evil-laughing into his headset, while Strong – affectionately dubbed “Captain Catch-A-Lot” by adoring fans who marvel at his pigskin-snatching super powers – continues to rot away on the bench.

“Additionally, the Texans are slowly moving away from personnel in their wide receiver group who do not fit what they want to do.”

Let’s take a gander at a few of the things that Jaelen Strong does that make him “not fit” what the Texans want to do:

  1. Misses almost as many games (15) as he plays (19)
  2. Gets suspended for marijuana possession
  3. Gains only slightly more receiving yards in his first two seasons combined (292) than Andre Johnson once gained in a single game (273)
  4. Catches two or fewer passes in 15 of his 19 games as a professional “guy whose job it is to catch lots of passes”

I may be reaching here, but perhaps the fact that a half dozen other teams opted to pass on Strong and select a wide receiver with a lower pre-draft grade prior to the Texans’ pick at #70 should have raised a few eyebrows within the team’s war room. But hey, who am I to judge a front office brain trust who burned three of its four third round picks in the previous two seasons on Louis Nix III, Trevardo Williams, and Sam Montgomery.

(Fun fact: those three combined to play a grand total of zero regular season snaps for the Texans)

“This leads to the last level of team personnel where Strong could help: special teams. Strong is not known for his special teams work – nor should he be.”

At long last, we’re back to making at least marginally-logical statements.

“He is a wide receiver first and has shown during his time with the Texans, when given a chance, that he can produce.”

Welp, that was short-lived.

On what planet does being an injury-prone, poorly-conditioned wideout who can’t beat out the likes of Dres Fucking Anderson to get reps during training camp somehow demonstrate that you can produce? The guy surpassed 40 receiving yards in a game a whopping two times in the 19 games he played. He scored two touchdowns in his first NFL game and only one in his next 18 games. He hasn’t been in the end zone since just before Christmas two years ago. I don’t know what you call that, but you sure as shit don’t call it a demonstration that “when given a chance, he can produce.”

“This is not an indictment of Strong’s skill level…”

Yes it is.

“…but more of being phased out as an option offensively with the team clearly going in a different direction personnel-wise.”

You know what direction that is? Trying to acquire wide receivers that catch fucking passes and score fucking touchdowns.

Step one in that direction? Stop drafting guys like Jaelen Strong.

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