It took OFFENSIVE SUPERGENIUS BILL O'BRIEN 53 out of 54 possible bad quarters of football from Brock Osweiler to make a change at QB, but it finally happened. Ladies and germs, I present you Tom Savage. The Texans look to be able to play Brian Hoyer level offense from here on out, which is, sadly, far superior than Osweiler level offense.
But before we get carried away by this change, let's please remember that OFFENSIVE SUPERGENIUS BOB still doesn't know what the kitten he's doing as an offensive play-caller. The Texans were extraordinarily lucky the Jaguars did not recover Akeem Hunt's fumble in the end zone for a touch back. But why, dear readers, is BOB using Akeem Hunt like he's Earl Campbell? BOB's offensive personnel usage is as equally perplexing as his scheme.
The good news is that Savage was at least pushing the ball down the field, and he seems to understand that DeAndre Hopkins guy is pretty alright.
The big story, once again, was the defense. Jadeveon Clowney was fantastic, and Benardrick McKinney continues to be the squad's MVP. Robert Nelson looks like the second coming of Jacques Reeves, so if he can learn to turn his neck, we've found another defensive back gem.
The biggest problem, however, are the Baby-Eating Sister Kitteners of Methoptamia. While the Texans have to play an actual NFL quality team, the Bengals, next week, the BE-SFs now get a bye week against the European Football League's Jacksonville Glitter Kitties. The game is a must win for the Texans, setting up a possible New Year's Day showdown with the BE-SFs for the title of the best football team of the worst division in football.
Where were you when they built that ladder to heaven?
I was sitting in a reclined passenger seat with a sore throat, bloody eyes, and a Waffle House ravaged gut. The car was scooting down some interstate in Arkansas and we were listening to the AM radio version of Redzone. And then it happened. The Texans were down. Tom Savage was in.
I was surprised. I thought there was no way Savage would play this year. If it hadn't happened sooner, I didn't think it was going to. The Texans pay Brock Osweiler so much, he had already been the worst quarterback in the NFL, and it's not like he could play any worse. There are just a few weeks left in the season, and the words spoken in pressers and post games. I was wrong.
Shortly after Savage's entrance into the game, I was forced to follow along through texts and tweets when the radio kicked into Arkansas State basketball. It sounded like everything was cool and fun. Savage threw the ball to DeAndre Hopkins. A Texans quarterback finally hit a receiver in stride. Savage threw outside the hashmarks. The Texans came back and won.
There's two games left in the season. Houston can clinch the division next week with a win and a Tennessee loss. Houston can lose to the Bengals and still win the division in Week 17. If Savage can be even average, the Texans should win the division. If Savage can be average, the Texans have a shot to win a playoff game. That's an entirely different reality than what we were staring into with Osweiler as the quarterback. I'm not going to miss him one bit.
Well, that was the most exciting Texans game I've watched in a while.
It sure was a gutsy call to bench Brock. I wouldn't have made it, I know that much. As much as I thought he was doing badly, I thought at this point we may as well see out the season with him out there, just on the off chance something clicked and he became a serviceable starter.
But everything on offense looked better with Tom Savage out there. It looked like those first two drives against the Titans, if not better.
Now, it wasn't perfect by all means. Savage should have been picked off by Malik Jackson, but he was making throws that haven't been made all season. He wasn't afraid to target receivers outside the numbers. He wasn't scared by Jalen Ramsey (although at times he should have been). He was reading coverage and knew where to go if his first option wasn't open. You can say "it was only the Jags" all you like, but they have a very talented defense.
I think the play-calling with Savage was better, aside from that completely asinine fade on fourth down. Although we do need to start making better use of the skill sets our running backs have to offer.
After this week, we need to heap more praise on Romeo Crennel. How he has gotten this defense performing with so many injuries, I really don't know. Jadeveon Clowney played out of his skin as the Texans' only real pass rusher; he terrorized the Jaguars' O-Line. Now if everyone could just stay healthy...
When the Texans signed Brock Osweiler, with the mantra of "we don't need a guy who's going to light the world on fire, we just need one who won't burn it to the ground," I wondered why they didn't just invest that money in offensive line talent and go with Tom Savage. They could have brought back T.J. Yates, who is a capable backup, and built a really solid o-line with the savings.
But looking at Os on paper (hand picked/groomed by one legend, John Elway, to succeed another legend, Peyton Manning) it seemed like a worthy endeavor. While I'm very concerned with the offensive scheme Houston has and the play calling/game planning aspects of the offense, the fact of the matter is Osweiler can't seem to make chicken salad out of chicken kitten.
Based on the reality of the current situation, bringing in Tom Savage was the right move at that point in the game. Keeping him in for the rest of the 2016 season is also the right move.
If Osweiler is ever going to be the guy that leads the Texans to the promised land, he's going to need a mental reset, an offensive coordinator who can scheme/play call to his talents and a line that can keep his feet from getting too happy.
None of those things exist in H-Town right now.
Thankfully, once again, despite the poor special teams play and upheaval on offense, the defense played like champions and kept Blake Bortles from playing like, well, Tom Savage. Bob McNair needs to make sure Romeo Crennel never leaves town. Ever.
Jacksonville's defense is seventh in the league in yards per game, which says a lot for Savage and his grasp of the dysfunctional offensive scheme. Hopefully, he'll channel his inner T.J.Yates next week and take out the Bengals on Christmas Eve...
Tom Savage made reads, decisions, and throws that we haven't seen from Brock all season. They should keep Tom at QB the remainder of the year and let Brock observe and learn from the sidelines without any pressure to perform. Perhaps he needs a reset of sorts and can get another shot at a QB competition in the off-season. This will give the Texans a chance to see what they have in Savage beyond just a few quarters of film.
The thing that drove me mad throughout this tilt against the Jaguars was how the officials were allowing so much contact on receivers and failing to call defensive holding, illegal contact, and defensive pass interference when it was happening on just about every play. Jalen Ramsey was only flagged once, although he was draped all over Hopkins and other receivers throughout the majority of the game. I saw Ryan Griffin's jersey being stretched out as it was held by a linebacker while he ran a shallow crossing route, and it went uncalled. The very next play, Griffin was flagged for offensive pass interference when he made a catch in the same area of the field. The announcers pointed out that it looked very incidental at best and shouldn't have been called on Griffin.
The officiating in the NFL is absolutely abysmal game after game across the entire league. The inconsistency from one crew to the next just makes this sport nearly unwatchable. It clearly puts far too much subjective influence in the hands of these part-time employees who can sway the outcome of close games. Jalen Ramsey got away with murder all game, but A.J. Bouye was instantly flagged if he made any incidental contact. KITTEN YOU, NFL officials!
Aside from Nick Novak and Shane Lechler, both of whom could be considered team MVP candidates for this season, special teams for the Texans continue to struggle. When I say "struggle," I mean "flat out crap the bed week after week." Houston has changed coaches and personnel, yet they still fail to perform on special teams for some damn reason.
On a more positive note, Romeo Crennel should be awarded Coach of the Year with how he has kept this unit together through significant injuries all season. It is fantastic to see Jadeveon Clowney playing at his true potential and having fun. I hope Houston can afford to keep him together with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for many years.
Pretty straightforward reaction here-despite the lunacy of what both Bob McNair and the CBS broadcast team said on Sunday-no, it was not "a gutsy call" for Bill O'Brien to pull Brock Osweiler. The issue with Osweiler has been a different one than the typical "overpaid starter who needs to be benched," in that Osweiler hasn't been bad - he's been historically terrible. There was no decision to be made here after two bad picks in the first quarter-and-a-half. Should Will Fuller have caught that first one? Yeah, probably, he should have--but that was a BASIC NFL THROW.
Now because the bar is set SO low with Osweiler, some will overreact to Savage. We all know that what he did Sunday wasn't amazing, but the point should be driven home that the throws he was making were BASIC NFL THROWS. Hitting guys in stride over the middle and dropping the ball in the bucket between the WR and the sideline so the WR can shield the ball from the defender if needed. Not staring down your receivers, etc.
If there was one thing that Savage DID do that was more "plus" than the basic NFL throws-something that not every NFL QB can do with consistency-is that he stood in the pocket, didn't get jittery, and delivered passes in the face of pressure when he needed to.
Bill O'Brien being non-committal in the postgame presser about who will start next week is just a formality. He doesn't want Brock to know the final decision through the media. He wants to deliver the message in person. Plus, O'Brien doesn't like to give the media what it wants (which is something I like about him).
I'll tell you this much--now that Tennessee has won in Kansas City, it looks likely the AFC South will be decided in Week 17 in Nashville. I would have given the Brock-led Texans virtually no shot to win that game, but with Savage at the helm, there is hope that the Texans can be "average" at QB, which is all this defense appears to need.
Bill O'Brien's offense is at its best when it's in a state of perpetual chaos due to the fact it 's helmed by someone other the starting QB. Think back to last year when O'Brien won a game with Brandon Weeden in Indy on a week's worth of prep beforehand.
Regardless if Tom Savage is the choice going forward, it's going to throw an almighty spanner into the Texans' off-season plans. Especially if Savage turns out to be slightly good enough to carry the Texans to the playoffs.
Still, I enjoyed some of the throws outside the hash marks and the usage of DeAndre Hopkins in the slot against Jalen Ramsey (he's really freaking good right now). Now all that's left is to see if Savage has a future as the Texans' QB.
P.S, JADEVEON CLOWNEY IS STATZGUD.
When I recall what transpired at NRG Stadium yesterday, the first thing I'll remember is that Brock Osweiler got benched, Tom Savage came in, the Texans' offense suddenly looked better than it has at almost any point all season, and the team came back from a thirteen-point deficit to win the game. The second thing I'll remember is that Bill O'Brien decided that asking Savage, who has not played in a regular season game since 2014, to throw a fade to DeAndre Hopkins from inside the one-yard line on fourth down on Savage's first drive was somehow a shrewd move. To O'Brien's credit, he admitted after the game it was a horrible play call, so I suppose we can at least take solace in the notion that he realizes how badly he screwed that one up.
The third thing I'll remember, and it's really not fair for this to be No. 3, is how fantastic the Texans' defense played yet again. Despite continually being hosed by the offense when Osweiler was under center, the Texans' defense kept stoning the Jaguars, keeping them out of the end zone all but one time. This is a unit that's been ravaged by injury, but week after week, they continue to excel. Jadeveon Clowney has officially broken out, and he's doing it without very many (perhaps any) other players opposing offensive coordinators need to scheme for.
No matter what happens the rest of this season, I'll remember the Texans' 2016 defense with the same fondness I do the 2011 edition. That's high praise.
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