Colts shouldn’t choose Jadeveon Clowney over Justin Houston

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 12: Jadeveon Clowney #99 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 12: Jadeveon Clowney #99 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

On Monday, Indianapolis Colts fans caught wind of the team’s interest in pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who just spent the 2020 season with the division-rival Tennessee Titans.

Some fans might think it’d be a grand idea for general manager Chris Ballard to steal a key player from the Colts’ chief competition, but Indy has had a better version in Justin Houston for the last two years.

Why replace the veteran, who’s been more productive and has more familiarity with the defensive scheme, with someone who’s been injured as of late and has seen just 21 games over the last two seasons?

The only explanation here is going with a younger version of Houston and locking Clowney into a multi-year contract, which would be helpful given all his experience in the AFC South.

Here’s why the Colts should choose Justin Houston over Jadeveon Clowney.

Houston’s body of work is much better than Clowney’s. You could point to him having three more years of NFL experience, but the numbers are still damning.

You wouldn’t be lying if you said Clowney’s impact goes well beyond the box score — and it does, he’s a disruptor through and through in both the rushing and passing game — but Houston does that and puts up the important stats.

Let’s do a little side-by-side. Houston numbers are on the left, and Clowney’s are on the right:

  • Sacks: 97.5 vs 32
  • Tackles for loss: 117 vs 75
  • QB hits: 148 vs 86
  • Forced fumbles: 17 vs 9
  • Fumble recoveries: 15 vs 8
  • Games played: 134 vs 83

Houston’s had four injury-shortened seasons over his 10-year career and Clowney’s had that same amount over his seven.

Sure, Clowney would be a “fine” alternative, but there’s no reason to mess with the defense’s DNA if you can help it. Losing Denico Autry was already significant enough. Replacing the production of one such valuable contributor is doable. The front office can’t make Matt Eberflus do that with two.

If this is a ploy to drive Houston’s price down or play games with his representation, that’s one thing. How much money could he possibly be asking for if the Colts are willing to explore another option on the market that probably should be a bit more pricey due to difference in age?

The Colts got lucky with Marlon Mack and Xavier Rhodes. They shouldn’t keep pressing with a guy like Houston, who’s proven to be a leader, top player, and spark plug for other guys along the front seven, who have greatly benefitted from his mere presence.