To this point, Bill O'Brien has consistently told the media that both quarterbacks are still equal in the ongoing evaluation to determine who will lead Houston's offense for the 2015 NFL regular season.
One thing that we should consider is whether the loss of Arian Foster for at least the first half of the 2015 regular season will play into this decision. If Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer truly end up being graded equally, does scheme play into the decision?
Foster's running style was lethal to most NFL opponents behind a zone-blocking scheme, which happens to also work seamlessly with the play-action approach that Hoyer has more often been successful in with roll-outs/bootlegs. Without Foster, does the offense focus on the man-blocking power-run scheme with running backs Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes, Chris Polk and Kenny7 Hilliard? If so, does that pair better with Mallett at quarterback, given his ability as a traditional tall, strong-armed pocket passer with a lightning-quick release?
In light of O'Brien's ability to tailor the offense to focus on the strengths of his available players and create schematic mismatches of the opponent in any given week, does it even matter?
What would make this whole thing easier is if one of the quarterbacks started to pull ahead of the other at this midpoint of training camp. Is it possible that is happening this week?
Today was Ryan Mallett's day with the first offensive group and he started the day strong. He dropped a beautiful dime in the back of the end zone for a TD early in practice and a few of his other touch throws on the day were on the money.
When Mallett and the offense were backed up in the "going out" drill, he threw two darts - one to TE C.J. Fiedorowicz and one to Cecil Shorts III. That got the ball out of the shadow of their own goal line and a definitive win for the offense.
Brian Hoyer's first throw out of the end zone was a check down to J.L. Grimes in the flat and he was met by ILB Akeem Dent, who has been back in practice this week. Dent let up just a bit at the last minute but, in the game, it would’ve been a highlight hit for sure.
I'll qualify this by saying that nothing can be gleaned from a single practice, but is there a slight trend starting with other reports this week that Mallett is starting to perform more consistently than Hoyer?
Hoyer started slow during team session, after being picked off by Kareem Jackson, who had a strong day. However, Hoyer quickly found his groove making multiple strong throws.
When the second team offense came out, Ryan Mallett completed passes all over the field, including touchdowns to Damaris Johnson and Chris Polk.
Just when you think it might look like there is some separation forming in this race between two competitive signal-callers, you find this comment from Harris:
Speaking of Hoyer, he was brilliant throughout the day, especially with tight throws down the sideline. At one point, he had a perfect throw to Keshawn Martin on a comeback as well as another beauty to Nate Washington on a fade route.
Clear as mud now, right? Throw in the fact that Tom Savage is making a strong case that it should be a three-way battle and it is even more uncertain who will finally be announced as the starter. Well, hopefully we'll get a better feel for things in the upcoming game against the Denver Broncos on Saturday. Until then, this quarterback battle rages along.
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