There are many times when NFL teams try and make big splashes in free agency it might not pan out, but the Houston Texans took a calculated risk this offseason and hit pay dirt.
The Texans signed the "second best" cornerback on the market in Johnathan Joseph, from the Cincinnati Bengals to a 5 year deal worth $48.75 million and $23.5 of that is guaranteed. The production that Joseph has given in his first 10 games as a Texan has been a sight to see.
In his 6th year out of the University of South Carolina, Joseph had formed one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL with Leon Hall in Cincinnati. With so much unrest in Bengal land, Joseph was shown the dollar signs and came to Houston to fill a much-needed void in the Texans defense, a premier cornerback.
In camp Joseph was slowed by a groin injury and only played in one preseason game and saw limited action. Since week one he has made his presence felt and help develop a new identity for the Texans defense. Defense has been an optional word in Houston football, but he has help bring back respect to the Texans organization.
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In 10 games Joseph stat line looks like this....
10 starts- 32 total tackles, 11 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
What is not measured on the stat sheet is his big hits to change games, like the one in the Tennessee game separating wide receiver Damian Williams early in the first quarter to set the tone, in the Pittsburgh game he left his man to stick tight end Heath Miller short on a key third down play to force the punt or his latest one on Kellen Winslow to knock the ball loose for a Brian Cushing interception. Joseph has made so many impact plays for the Texans, he is well worth the money spent.
Joseph may not be the best defensive player on the field, but he is definitely the most important to the Texans scheme that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips wants to use. Joseph's signing allowed Glover Quin to move to the safety position, a more natural spot, and it lets Kareem Jackson and Jason Allen split time and let the Texans roll with the hot hand. His signing alone has created more depth in the secondary than expected, and his influence alone has helped picked up the expectations for the secondary. With Joseph in the starting lineup the Texans have 14 total interceptions in 10 games and 8 behind the franchise record of 22 which was set by the 2004 Texans defense.
Joseph is a great football player, but the attitude and professionalism he has brought to the Texans is what makes him the complete football player. It was apparent why Bengals fans were so heart-broken when he signed with the Texans, we are watching what they have seen for the past 5 years, a playmaker.