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Red Zone Play: #StartSavage

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Like this column could possibly be about anything else this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The roar that went up when Tom Savage took the field on Sunday would have been far sweeter if NRG Stadium had been filled to capacity. As it was, the emotional tide of the players, coaches, fans and collective sports consciousness of the entire City of Houston rose to a season-high crescendo once #3 jogged out to the huddle.

When all was said and done, Tom Savage led his team with 260 passing yards and an 85.4 passer rating. Both of which are also season highs for the team. While Savage threw no touchdowns, he also didn’t throw any picks. Provide him with better play-calling, a healthy receiving corps, and a better offensive line, and he could actually make this offense work.

Say what you will about Savage debuting against a 2-11 Jaguars squad that promptly fired their coach before they even left town, but that Jacksonville defense is loaded with talent, including Jalen Ramsey, Malik Jackson, Paul Posluszney and more. That same Jaguars defense came into the game ranked seventh in the league. The Jaguars’ losing record is certainly not the fault of their defense.

While the Jacksonville D also exited H-Town ranked seventh in the league, the team itself left with their sixth consecutive loss to the Houston Texans.

Despite what many might think, Tom Savage wasn’t the only reason the Texans won. Although it’s easy to sit back and act like he was, or worse, fully believe it, the reality is the Houston defense smothered the Jacksonville offense and the kicking team did enough to compensate for the offensive struggles.

Back in August, we compared the Texans to the 2015 Denver Broncos. That comparison was the basis for this team entering the metaphorical Red Zone that underpins this column week in and week out.

Now, Houston has the #1 defense in the league and quite a few additional similarities to last year’s Broncos. Unfortunately, for better or worse, the depth chart is decimated with injuries, so it’s hard, on paper, to make a believable argument for this team going all the way this year.

But with an 85.4 QBR from Savage, it’s much easier to make that leap than it was with Brock Osweiler’s 71.4 rating.

#3 looked fresh, crisp, and dynamic, as evidenced here:

Every Throw From Tom Savage.

Savage has been in this system for nearly three years now. He’s got just enough prior game experience to have applied what he learned. He’s made mistakes, learned from them, and come back out ready to fire on all cylinders.

Last week, Greg Cosell was on Sports Radio 610 in the morning. When Seth Payne asked Cosell what he thought of Brock, just as he had in the past, he mentioned Osweiler for all intents and purposes is still a rookie quarterback, working in an extremely complex system that he was wholly unfamiliar with prior to signing in Houston.

Osweiler is a smart, driven, talented young man who should take this setback as a learning opportunity. Hopefully, he will come back next year ready and capable of proving he was worth every penny Bob McNair invested in him.

In hindsight, Savage should have been the starter from day one with Osweiler getting on the field once he was ready, only if and when Savage struggled in successive games.

Either way - and no matter what happens on Christmas Eve against the Cincinnati Bengals - Savage should start for the rest of the season.

As was mentioned in the Incompletions post yesterday:

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.

Well, the money is spent, and all Houston can do is move forward. Hopefully, Santa Clause will give Rick Smith an idea of the importance of offensive linemen, surprise Bill O’Brien with a better play-caller, and bless Romeo Crennel with a lifetime contract to stay in Houston.

In the meantime, make sure to let the Texans’ brass know you want to #StartSavage and #EndWell.