It took less than forty seconds in two plays for Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney to introduce himself to his hometown fan base. In that stretch, Clowney brought confidence to a team that was searching for answers and breathed life into a team looking for something to build off of.
With 9:03 left in the first quarter, Clowney lined up on the right side of the defense and at the snap was in Falcons’ running back Antone Smith’s face
before the play even developed. In one quick movement he took Smith off his feet that sent the stadium into a frenzy, then at the 8:23 mark he showed his
speed to get around offensive tackle Sam Baker to get a sack on Matt Ryan capping off why he was the top overall selection in the draft.
Clowney talked about those plays, “I don’t know, man. I just tried to get back there. I just had my eyes on him at first and then once I flew off, kept my
eyes on that quarterback, tried to get a strip sack.”
Falcons running back, Antone Smith was not amused he was on the backend of the highlight reel tackle, “Just a guy,” Smith said of Clowney. “I don’t see
anything special. He’s just a guy. He’s a guy who plays defensive end. He plays pretty good. Made a good play.”
The top overall pick understands he has to keep making plays and getting to the quarterback. Clowney is keeping the spotlight off of him and on his team,
“It means a lot, man. Trying to help the team out, you know, do my part and rush the quarterback and make plays for the team.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien welcomes the defensive play making ability of Clowney and the rest of the defense,
“I think anytime a player makes two big plays like that, no matter who the player is, whether it’s (Jadeveon) Clowney or (J.J.) Watt or (Brooks) Reed or
J-Mo (Tim Jamison), (D.J.) Swearinger or K-Lew (Kendrick Lewis), whoever it is defensively that helps the sideline. I can remember in other places I’ve
been, when a guy makes a defensive play that’s a big hit, it really lights up your sideline. So it’s great for the defense, it’s great for our team and I
thought it helped our whole sideline.”
Even the Texans offensive players like what they see with Clowney and DeVier Posey was happy to see his early success against the Falcons,
“He is special with what he does.” Posey said with a smile, “We have been seeing it here since the day he has gotten here. We are you guys are finally
seeing it now. He is going to be a special player.”
“I am used to seeing that at South Carolina so it is not a shock to me.”, But Swearinger admitted it always gets him excited when Clowney makes big hits,
“It get’s me extremely excited and it gives the defense a boost. Once one person makes the play it makes the rest want to makes plays.”
If there was any question on Clowney’s game changing ability, he might have silenced those critics in less that 40 seconds in his Houston debut.