In a stretch in which the Houston Texans have temporarily lost star receiver Andre Johnson and defensive end Mario Williams for the season with a torn pectoral, while losing a game with a bad ending to the Oakland Raiders last Sunday, the Texans have found some veteran help that can get them rolling again.
By making the move for Mason, the Texans aren't content to stand still at 3-2 heading into what could be two more games without Johnson, who's recovering from hamstring injury suffered on Oct. 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and a subsequent surgery. Johnson, QB Matt Schaub's go-to guy, has 25 catches and 352 receiving yards on the year.
The Texans play the Baltimore Ravens, Mason's most recent team of six years before he signed with the New York Jets this offseason, this Sunday, and then the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 23, Mason's first team that he played eight seasons for. For the upcoming two homecomings of sorts, Mason, who the Jets traded after falling out of favor with him, should be able to help as a top-three option. After those games, he'll most likely be one of four in the receiving rotation with Johnson, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones.
Mason will definitely provide veteran leadership, alongside Johnson and Schaub, to a young team that's primed to finally make it to the postseason. He can make the receiving corps work harder to take some of the load off of Johnson. But, most importantly, he will add some swagger to the Texans that can get them even more noticed than they already are. The fear of playing the Texans will go up a notch.
It seems like Mason was out of place with the Jets, though. The swagger wasn't with him while he was there, despite unnoticeable swagger from the Jets this whole season.
The day after trading Mason to Houston, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said the move was based on a lack of production on the field and had nothing to do with the receiver criticizing the team's offense. Mason, who signed a two-year, $1.3 million contract this season, complained after the Week 4 loss to the Ravens, telling reporters that there were cracks in the offense.
I think the hallmark of our program is everyone has to be themselves, Tannenbaum said Wednesday. And clearly that's the environment we have here. What he said after the Baltimore game had nothing to do with the decision we made last night. Obviously the performance on the field wasn't where he had expected to be or where we had expected to be.
Mason caught two passes for 37 yards against the Ravens in Week 4. A week later, a published report said he and fellow receivers Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress met individually with coach Rex Ryan to complain about offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's system.
Ryan and the three receivers refuted the story. ESPNNewYork.com reported Sunday night that Mason was benched for the first half of the Jets' loss to the New England Patriots because of his postgame comments from the previous week.
The Jets denied that, too.
What the Jets can't deny, however, is that they are thin at receiver, with Jeremy Kerley backing up Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress. If there's an injury, they're in trouble.
If the Texans turn things around and the Jets don't offensively, is it possible New York just jumped the gun too quickly?