After climbing in the NFL Draft to select former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans' head coach Bill O'Brien has been adamant Tom Savage is the team's starting QB right now.
Still, I firmly believe Watson will be Houston's signal caller this fall and the decision will be made sooner rather than later.
Let's sort through the factors in play:
Can we slow our roll on Savage for a minute? It almost seems like everyone in Houston was just blown away with the former Pittsburgh QB with his limited in-game action. Let's take a look at Savage's stat line in the five games he's played.
|Games Played||Comp %||TD's||INT's||Fumbles||QB Rating|
Underwhelming. It certainly doesn't scream "we have our future," and the Texans' aggressive move to land Watson leads me to believe they agree. Savage is a heady guy who has mastered the nuances of the offense, but the dude hasn't even thrown a touchdown in the NFL.
This isn't a knock on Savage. He's had very little time, and has shown enough to warrant a spot on an NFL roster, but to just pencil him in as the Texans' starting passer for 2017-18 is a massive stretch. The only other option is Brandon Weeden, the 33-year-old six-year vet. He's not really an option. (Fun fact, Russell Wilson is younger today than Brandon Weeden was the day both quarterbacks were drafted back in 2012.)
Writing on the wall
The Texans' coaching staff has not insisted Watson will sit on the bench for his first year to learn and develop. We saw the Jaguars do that with Blake Bortles during his rookie year and the Rams took a similar approach with Jared Goff last season. Outside of Aaron Rodgers and a few choice examples, those situations usually don't pan out in the modern NFL anyway. But O'Brien has been open and honest on where he sees Watson, at least for now.
"We run a competitive program," O'Brien said Wednesday on ESPN's Mike and Mike. "Tom Savage, we put in a lot of time with this guy, he was our starter at the end of the year before he was injured in the Tennessee game. He's our starter right now. But we run a competitive program so Deshaun will be given a bunch of opportunities here. We'll bring Deshaun along at his own pace, we know that he's a sponge, he's a guy that will really work hard to learn as fast as he can."
That certainly sounds like a coach who is far from sold on his presumed starter. When WATSON jerseys start selling and the fans start calling his name, we all know what will happen. It's only a matter of time. The problem for Savage? He has almost no room for error. He has to be perfect from the first snap of training camp or the Texans' fan base will start demanding the rookie.
The rest of the team
The Houston Texans are built to win right now. The only thing that has strapped this team for real contention in the AFC is the lack of a capable signal caller. If Watson can master the playbook and take on a game-manager role early, the weapons around him will make the whole thing run smoothly. Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller on the outside? Lamar Miller in the backfield? Watson, bringing the added threat of his legs? Come on now.
On the other side of the ball, we're looking at a defense that finished No. 1 overall in the NFL last season. Enough said.
The Watson Effect
I've always been adamant Watson was the best quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft class and it wasn't even close. Still, this is a kid playing with a chip on his shoulder, and I'm fully confident he will do everything in his power to make it an easy decision for the Houston coaching staff.
Here's a stat for you: Watson faced 44 defensive players who would go on to be drafted into the NFL during his time at Clemson. Patrick Mahomes faced 20, while Mitch Trubisky faced just 12. How does that translate to future NFL success? I have no clue, but Watson will be ready quicker than most believe.
He's a winner and has proven himself over and over again in college football's biggest moments. It will be fun to watch his progression with the Texans.