Why They Need Him
New England needs all the help it can get.
Tom Brady is gone, as are a handful of other players for various reasons, yet expectations remain high that Bill Belichick won’t miss a beat. Whether he likes it or not, the narrative of this Patriots’ season will be determining if it was Belichick’s system or Brady’s excellence within it that defined the dynasty that has yet to officially crumble.
Belichick swapped out Brady with Cam Newton — a player who also carries to Foxborough his own baggage of wanting to prove the haters wrong. Add Fournette to this mixture and all of a sudden there’s a trifecta of extra texture that could result in the Patriots continuing to dominate the AFC East and push for a seventh Super Bowl under Belichick’s reign.
Will It Work
This feels like a vintage Bill Belichick move. In an offseason where he bided his time and still ended up signing Cam Newton to a team-friendly deal, Belichick can double down and add Fournette as well.
In an offseason where Tom Brady leaves and multiple players opted out due to concerns over COVID-19, the Patriots answer to the doubters finally dancing on their grave is to sign Newton and Fournette thus reminding us that it’s never a good time to count New England out.
Fournette would join a pretty crowded backfield and would have to accept a role as Just Another Patriot, but it could be the best thing for him. Like Newton, Fournette could sign a lowkey deal that positions him well to have a phenomenal and high profile season that results in a nice payday in 2021. It’s a gamble, but there are worse places to spend a season proving your worth than in New England trying to win a Super Bowl.
Why They Need Him
Deshaun Watson is the best quarterback in the NFL that no one gives enough credit to. He’s in serious danger of being the Russell Wilson of this next generation of quarterbacks, which is more of an insult than it should be. Like Wilson in Seattle, Watson is so good at what he does that for some reason his front office uses his talents against him when it comes to building an offense around him that can truly be great.
Look no further than trading away DeAndre Hopkins for what amounts to spare parts this offseason as proof positive of this. Watson is expected to Houdini the Texans out of the garbage situations Bill O’Brien puts them in and he does such an exceptional job of almost always doing this that his hard work is deemed good enough to carry the offense.
David Johnson was the big return in the Nuke Hopkins trade and while he unfairly received the brunt of the criticism for the trade he isn’t any sort of answer to the problem of how to fix the Texans lack of weapons for Watson. Adding Fournette might not be the ultimate fix either, but he’s a gift-wrapped mulligan for Houston’s grave error in trading away Hopkins.
Look at it this way: After the Texans traded Hopkins, the Rams cut Todd Gurley who could have been added to Houston’s offense instead of Johnson. Fournette is a chance for the Texans to have a do-over of that moment and add a solid back behind Watson and make up for some of the muster lost by trading away one of the best receivers in the game.
Will It Work
Few things in a Bill O’Brien plan work, but even a blind squirrel finds a few nuts. Fournette’s best chance to be an unchallenged starter on a winning team is in Houston, and pairing him with Watson will give him something he never had in Jacksonville. We don’t know what Fournette looks like with a next-level dynamic superstar quarterback and we don’t know how much better Watson can be with a star back behind him.
The dream for Texans fans would have been to still have Hopkins and form a three-headed monster by adding Fournette to the offensive mix. But given how terrible Houston’s offseason has been, signing Fournette is the best consolation prize Bill O’Brien in no way deserves but has somehow lucked into.