The GOAT is here! (GOAT, of course, stands for Greatest Of All Time.)
Sure, Andre Johnson would never announce his arrival with such fanfare, but his training camp arrival spoke volumes. For the past two or three months, many speculated, guessticulated (if that's a word) and surmised what they felt they knew about all of the players in this situation - Dre, Bill O'Brien, Rick Smith and the entire Texans organization. In the end, most media pundits marjorly missed the mark but that can be a story for someone else to write and sensationalize on his/her own.
I'm here to talk about what it means, on the field, for Andre and this offense. This is a true football discussion. I'll address the how and the where, and stay quiet on the rest.
Just as Dre would want. It's time to work.
How will he fit in this offense? Let's start by going deep.
Past history can help us a little bit but not entirely. O'Brien's never really had a receiver quite like Dre.
Sure, Randy Moss could run the 9-route like no other, but he wasn't going to win on the digs, curls and in-cuts as Johnson does.
Wes Welker dominated the short to intermediate areas, but he didn't often pose a threat vertically like Dre does.
Andre isn't the deep threat that Moss was and isn't Welker. But Andre's the consummate combination of the two. He's not going to fly by corners in man coverage, but he has such good ball skills on deep balls that he doesn't need to have two steps or one, he just needs to be in the vicinity to make the catch. Furthermore, he's such a good route runner that double moves can get him open by yards as it did against Colts CB Vontae Davis last year at home.
Throwing the ball deep needs three components: Coach/playcaller to WANT to throw deep, a QB to do so and a receiver with the ability to get there.
O'Brien's made no bones about his desire to push the ball down the field. Texans' quarterbacks have both the arm and the desire to throw it deep. And finally, Dre can still get down the field.
Although it didn't happen, Dre's absence wouldn't have precluded the Texans from throwing the ball deep, but his presence makes that level of the field ultra-dangerous.
The next question is "Where does Dre line up?".
Anywhere the staff wants, honestly. The challenge for Johnson is to learn nearly every route from every receiving position. He does need to learn new terminology and concepts but he's learned multiple receiving responsibilties in the past.
Aligning off the ball is optimal for Johnson. When he goes in motion, defenses may show their hand,
coverage-wise. He can line up alongside DeAndre Hopkins. He can line up next to Arian Foster. He can line up inside at a slot position. If a defense's number one priority is shutting him down, his movement throws a distinct monkey wrench into a defense's plans. Furthermore, his presence opens up so much in the passing game for the capable weapons in the Texans' stable.
The opportunities are limitless. I don't think we'll see Andre get any carries out of the backfield but then again the imagination of this offensive staff is without boundaries so I would never write it completely off. Advise against it? Sure. But, if it puts the ball in his hands...
That elicits a smile to think about Dre catching passes for the Texans in 2014. It's just great to know that he'll be here on Saturday to have the ball in his hands and retain his crown as the GOAT.