In a season plighted by Covid-19, the Texans true to form, reached new heights of embarrassment yesterday. Houston’s operational deficiencies came to the fore with a spectacular level of absurdity. As both Bradley Roby & Will Fuller were suspended for 6 games after violating NFL rules for PED’s. This, with only five games left in the 2020 season.
This now leaves a harrowingly poor cornerback group and a thinning looking receiver room. The latter is particularly puzzling considering the recent release of Kenny Still, when the team must have already known these suspensions were quickly approaching.
Their announcements broke in unusual way as the players took to social media which on the whole, is an uncommon route for stories to become public knowledge. As league and media sources, merely screen-shotted or re-confirmed Fuller’s post, to surprisingly reveal the decision. Then merely seven hours later, Roby confirmed he’d suffered the same punishment from the league office.
The timing also stood out as being odd, how the two players, who are both are the Texans best players in their respective position groups, were found guilty on the same day. It begs the question did both players consume the same substance? Did they both visit the same ill-advised specialist? Perhaps based on the recommendation from their team mate? But the ailments requiring attention are still unclear.
Did anyone inside NRG know of this referral or did the players go off-piste and consume something they knew, in their heart of hearts, that it could well be a risk their careers? As there are NFLPA signs in locker room stating these rules – that ultimately the player is responsible for what they consume.
But this failing also shines, yet again, on the Texans in an unflattering light. They have duty of care towards steering these 20-something millionaires. They are in need of guidance and to be reminded of their responsibility to the team and the fans. Both Fuller and Roby are 5th and 6th year players, so their is little room for their excuses of being wrongly advised. It was their responsibility was to check with the team’s medical staff. Why they didn’t is only a question they can answer. But the fact that it was not just one but two players who fell foul of this, comes back to reflect on the team.
The person responsible for football operations, is the much maligned Jack Easterby. Anyone in that position under normal circumstance would be the accountable lead responsible for such a systematic club failing. But the likelihood of him being held to account or the team’s public response being of any note is doubtful, as such poor expectations have been set by this dismally run team.
Many will cite this hurting the momentum built through the previous two wins. Although it undoubtedly will, the reality remains a team who lack a run game, would be promptly undone. Even if they were to be the 7th or even 8th play-off team. These final 5 games will add more strain on the brilliance of Deshaun Watson. The changes around the 4th year quarterback continue to detract from what he brings to the field, adding to his challenges.
Bradly Roby will likely be with the team in 2021 but the new coaching staff’s ability to move in a different direction is eased by the loss of his year-2 guaranteed monies and bonus. The future of upcoming free-agent Will Fuller will be one of interest. Fuller has now lost $3million in earning this year. Whilst he likely has suspended himself into a situation that will have teams questioning their willingness to place any seizable offers on the table, when coupling this with his injury history.
Yet another bad day off the filed in this 2020 season, that only adds to the list of challenges that will be in need of conquering, if they are to become competitive in the years upcoming.