The Houston Texans are in a bit of a slump so far this year: at 2-5 they’re third in their division and their starting quarterback, Matt Schaub, is out with a leg injury. During such a hectic time is it really wise to cut three players for a minor rule infringement?
For the record, the three in question are defensive end Sam Montgomery, running back Cierre Wood and outside linebacker Willie Jefferson. Other than Montgomery (a third round pick in the 2013 draft) there wasn’t a lot of depth among the three, but that’s cutting away a major chunk of young guys from a team mired in losses and injuries to veterans.
Some context is needed here: according to ESPN, the three were allegedly smoking weed in a hotel room and got caught. So it’s not like they got pulled over by a cop with 5 pounds of hash in the trunk; rather they were sharing a joint after practice. They should probably invest in a Smoke Buddy for next time.
The NFL has strict rules regarding substance abuse, but according to league policy violation of drug rules isn’t a guaranteed removal or suspension. There’s a varied history of star players failing drug tests or being caught with large amounts of hard drugs. In fact, it’s so commonplace that hearing that three rookies smoked a joint one night isn’t that unusual or shockworthy. Typically league commissioner Roger Goodell would hand out a fine or a suspension from play, but over such a small matter the players would normally receive nothing but a slap on the wrists. So why the boot?
Well there’s a multitude of ways to look at this. Perhaps Texans’ coach Gary Kubiak had already had thoughts about dropping the three and this was just icing on the cake. Perhaps he has a much stricter view on substance abuse than any other coach in the league, beyond even what the league requires. Perhaps he saw this as an excellent opportunity to shake things up within his team.
Or perhaps he is the head coach that went from 12-4 in 2012 with a loss in the second round of the playoffs to 2-5 in 2013 with hopes of seeing a playoff berth all but gone. Perhaps he’s a coach with an injured starting quarterback, a touch schedule ahead and ranked in the bottom four teams for the NFL. The Texans are coming off of five straight losses and that number looks to go up as they face the Colts next, who are 5-2 and coming off of a huge win against the Broncos.
So perhaps Kubiak is a coach desperately trying to show he is in control of his team by dropping three players over a minor infraction. Perhaps he’s trying to send a message to Texans’ owner Bob McNair that says, “Look! I got this! Would I be making such odd decisions if I wasn’t in total control?!”
Or maybe Kubiak is in the right. Whatever the case may be, expect at least Montgomery to be picked up by another team seeking depth at the defensive end position. A little weed probably won’t keep him out of play for too long.