Maybe we should have seen the end for D.J. Swearinger in Houston coming.
Sometime after the end of the Houston Texans 2014 season and before Monday, when Swearinger was placed on waivers, head coach Bill O’Brien spoke at a coaching seminar at the University of Notre Dame. In it, O’Brien tells a story that may apply to Swearinger, and confirm rumors about the reason behind the former second round pick’s departure.
In a lesson about battling entitlement and instilling a winning culture, O’Brien draws on a story about a second rounder that in O’Brien’s first year in Houston seemed uninterested in playing special teams.
“One of the things that I do is, I have a team meeting, and then following that, I have a special teams meeting. And so, the first time we did this in OTAs — I’ll never forget this — we had a special teams meeting, and like four or five guys — and I still need to improve this, this year — and like four or five guys, soon as we broke the team meeting, and we’re going to the special teams meeting, four or five guys stand up and they walk out. So I go out (in) the hallway, and we’ve got kids here, so I won’t tell you exactly what I said, but I said, Where the bleep are you going? Well, we don’t do special teams, Coach. You don’t do special teams? You better go back in there because, the way you’re gonna make the team is through special teams. One guy looked at me and goes, Make the team? I was a second round draft pick. I don’t care what draft pick you were. That was just where you were picked. Once the draft’s over, now you gotta come in here and earn your keep in here every day. The more you can do. So communicating a strategy of Team in Houston is a big deal, and we’re still working on that there.”
Assuming the player wasn’t drafted by another organization, the only second round picks on the Texans roster last season were Swearinger (2013), Xavier Su’a-filo (2014) and Brooks Reed (2011), who was a regular on special teams heading into that season. Houston didn’t have a second round pick in 2012, and Ben Tate, GM Rick Smith’s 2010 round-two selection, hit free agency that offseason. Su’a-filo also wasn’t with the Texans for their first 10 OTAs, thanks to UCLA’s quirky trimester system.
If Swearinger was the player O’Brien was talking about, and was cast off at least in part because of that, it makes you wonder who the other three or four players from the story were, and what their futures hold.
Earlier, O’Brien lauds the attitude and professionalism of J.J. Watt, saying that after last season, O’Brien reviewed Watt’s film and mentioned how impressive it had been — particularly with how versatile and valuable he had been to the team and coaching staff. Watt brushed it off by saying, per O’Brien, “That was last year.”
Matt Hammond is the producer and update anchor of The Triple Threat, weekdays from 2-7 pm CT on Sports Radio 610, and hosts weekends and fill ins during the week. You can, and totally should, follow him on Twitter, and check out his daily podcast.