Texans Quarterback Dilemma

Like the fan that’s switching “lucky shirts” in hopes that this one will never fail to bring his team a victory week after week, the Texans will again hope an unproven quarterback can be the franchises missing piece. Unfortunately, unless you’re a fan of Alabama football or the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers you know how this will turn out.

After the fans, media, players, and perhaps even head coach Bill O’Brien realized that Brock Osweiler would not provide the upgrade at quarterback the Texans desperately needed, O’Brien pulled the plug on the failed experiment midway through the second quarter last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Texans owner Bob McNair called the move brave. Everyone else saw the switch to Tom Savage as long overdue.

While some fans will see Savage as a savior, most realize that he provides about the same potential to lead this team to a Super Bowl as the fanatic’s new lucky shirt. In truth, the move from Osweiler to Savage is like too many made by O’Brien. It wreaks of reaction.

“We don’t make decisions based on anything other than what’s best for the team. We make decisions on what we think is the best way to help the team, what helps the team win.” O’Brien said on Monday when naming Savage the starter. To me the statement seems like a response to an accusation, as if O’Brien has been painted as a coach that kept starting Osweiler because the team invested $72-million ($37-million guaranteed) and not because he was the best option at QB.

What coaching staff doesn’t try to do everything it can to help the team win? After Savage replaced Osweiler and led the Texans to a 21-20 victory over the Jaguars, O’Brien said, “I think you’ve been around me long enough to know that I just try to make decisions in the best interest of the team. Any decision that we make here is always made in the best interest of the team.” 

He continued to explain himself saying, “I think we’ve got three really talented quarterbacks here. I really do. You can call BS on that, you can say whatever you want. I think we have a really talented quarterback room, and we don’t make decisions on how much a guy gets paid. We make decisions on what’s the best way to win a game.”

So the quarterback change was in the best interest of the team. Noted. Also noted, he said the same thing about the quarterback room a year ago and other than Savage who spent the 2015 season on IR, the other “talented” QB’s have long since been discarded.

If you’ve watched the Texans this year it would be impossible not to believe anyone would be an upgrade over Osweiler. It got so bad even O’Brien had to know his compliments rang hollow. “He does a nice job. He’s very prepared. He works very hard to understand the game plan week in and week out. I have a ton of respect for Brock Osweiler. Is a true professional. Always wants what’s best for the team.” O’Brien says. 

No offense to Brock, but these are the accolades of any hard working individual, not the specific attributes needed to be a successful NFL quarterback. O’Brien is clearly using the old, “Is she good looking? Well she’s really nice and smart too,” defense.

At this point the entire Brock Osweiler experiment seems like yet another patch on the tire for this organization and yet another glaring example of excuse-making by O’Brien. For a guy that snapped at the media that they create the narrative following another uninspiring Osweiler performance against the Colts two weeks ago, O’Brien sure seems like a guy that is constantly coaching to control the narrative.

After a 30-0 beatdown at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs in last year’s Wildcard playoff game, the owner guaranteed the quarterback position would be addressed, so we know throwing millions at Osweiler before even meeting him was a rash move. The entire O’Brien era can be summed up as one in which reaction to criticism has been the guiding force.

Meanwhile, under McNair’s watchful eye the organization’s handling of the quarterback position has lacked understanding and urgency. Since the Texans selected David Carr with the team’s first-ever draft pick, they’ve drafted just one quarterback in the first three rounds of the draft, Dave Ragone of Louisville in the third round in the 2003 draft. Has the team not invested in a quarterback following its first two seasons because they feel burned (not an acceptable excuse), or because they don’t understand quarterback is the most important position in team sports? (Also unacceptable.)

Since Rick Smith became general manager the Texans have selected Alex Brink (who?!!) in ’07 in the seventh round, T.J. Yates in the fifth round in ’11 and Savage in the fourth round in ’14. For comparison sake, the New England Patriots – the team the Texans are trying to emulate – have drafted three quarterbacks in the third round (Jacoby Brissett ’16, Ryan Mallett ’11, and Kevin O’Connell ’08), one in the second round (Garoppolo ’14) and one in the seventh (Zac Robinson ’10) since Smith became Texans’ GM.

Can someone please explain why a team that has best quarterback of this generation and arguably the best quarterback in NFL history – see Tom Brady – has invested significantly more in the quarterback position than a team that’s only missing piece is a competent QB and the franchise’s best is Matt Schaub?