Not surprisingly, this edition of the BRB Staff Question of the Week revolves around one Tom Savage. Let’s get right to it...
BRB Question of the Week: For 2016 ONLY, how will this season play out versus how you thought it would play out prior to Sunday, when we were led to believe that Brock Osweiler, come hell or high water, was going to finish 2016 as the starting QB?
I think the most likely scenario is that the change from Brock Osweiler to Tom Savage doesn't affect the end result of the Texans' 2016 season. I expected them to win the division before, and I still expect that to happen. I was skeptical about whether the Texans would win a wild card game; I suppose it's slightly more likely they'll do it now with Savage under center than Osweiler, but not terribly much more likely. The Texans' defense is far better than I expected it to be without J.J. Watt, which necessarily means Houston is capable of beating whichever wild card team they host. If I thought they had a 40% chance of beating the Raiders/Chiefs/Broncos in the first round with Osweiler under center, I guess I'd now peg it at between 45% and 50%, with the chance that estimation inches a bit higher based upon what we see from Savage over the next two weeks.
Regardless, I'm just going to enjoy the next few games. Watching Houston's defense alone has been worth the price of admission almost all season, so the increased possibility of watching a consistently functional offense only makes things that much more interesting.
Regardless of who the QB is and even with J.J. Watt, for me the ceiling on 2016 was always another AFC South win and a likely first-round playoff exit. Of course, the playoff field in the AFC looks like it might have some significant turnover this season - so I guess I have to make an adjustment.
All season I’ve been saying the Texans just need an AVERAGE QB, and it would potentially make a significant difference. Well, Tom Savage appears capable of being average, and this defense has been outstanding. So if the Texans draw Miami, Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, or an AFC North team at home in the first round, is it completely insane that Houston could get by to the divisional round? I don’t think so. Not at all.
So I’d say now, best case scenario - Houston can win a playoff game. Beyond that, I think we are entering Crazytown.
When we signed Brock in the off-season, the hope was that he could play as well with Brian Hoyer. With a better running back in Lamar Miller and fancy new weapons like Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, Brian Hoyer-like play would make our offense mediocre. Coupled with strong defense, that'd get us into the playoffs.
Instead, we signed a taller Rick Mirer, and Bill O'Brien's offensive scheme is disorganized trash. And yes, it's O’Brien’s scheme, not Godsey's.
At this point, what I see is a replay of the 2015 season...IF we can beat the BE-SFs in Methoptamia. We have to get past the Bengals first, which will be no easy task, thanks to the tremendous leadership of the Pride of Katy, Andy Dalton.
Anyway, if we get to the playoffs, this isn't a team built to last. Another Chiefs-like game is possible. The great news, at least, is that the offense should be marginally decent to watch again. I'll take it.
My guess is that Savage will play decently over the rest of the season. And by “decently,” I mean he'll be able to operate the Texans’ offense a la Hoyer or Fitzpatrick, with a better arm and about the same amount of puzzling throws.
Come playoff time, teams will actually have seasonal tape on Savage and will ask him to do what they think he's weakest at. At that point, I'm not optimistic.
Matt Weston (who is hitting me with Blade Runner slander):
Tom Savage is what Brock Osweiler needed to be when the season started. It's silly to extrapolate a lot from three quarters against a good pass defense, but Savage made throws that Osweiler hasn't made with any consistency all year. QB play is scrutinized and heavily analyzed, yet a lot of it comes down to whether or not the QBs can make throws. Savage did. Osweiler didn't.
When it comes to the division, Houston is going to need quarterback play. Tennessee should be able to stop the Texans' run game, and they should be able to run over the Texans' front seven. The Texans are going to need a QB who can attack the outside parts of the field in the passing game. If Savage can play like he did on Sunday against Jacksonville the rest of the year, Houston goes from being an underdog to turning that last regular season game into a coin flip.
As far as the playoffs? Going from the worst quarterback in the league to average is an entirely different thing. However, I just don't like the match-up for this team no matter who the quarterback is. They are likely going to get Kansas City in the first round. The Chiefs are the most balanced team in the AFC. Tyreek Hill would bring a kick back. The Chiefs would be able to run the ball. They have a really good pass rush. Their front seven would give Houston’s run game fits. Marcus Peters and Eric Berry make plays on the ball and take advantage of mistakes. Plus historically, Houston has problems against fast teams who get the ball out in space.
Yes, I know Houston won in Week Two, but they recovered three fumbles that game, had J.J. Watt, played a worse Chiefs team, K.C. used a strange game plan, and Andy Reid traded field goals instead of going for it. It took a lot of weird little things happening for Houston to win that one. In Part II, I'm expecting an entirely different type of game.
Battle Red Coat:
Tom Savage changes my view on 2016 hugely.
On Sunday, and every other week for that matter, I had fear when Brock Osweiler had the ball in his hands. On any third down we didn't call a run play, I automatically thought it was going to be the end of the drive. Any time we tried to pass it at the goal line or in the red zone, I assumed it was going to fail.
It took Tom Savage two drives to eradicate that fear from my mind. If nothing else, Savage gives me some form of belief and makes it less painful to watch the offense on the field.
If the offense continues to look as in sync as it did on Sunday, I think we stand a fighting chance of making the playoffs and also not getting embarrassed when we get there. I don't think we'll win a game in the postseason, but we won’t get humiliated.
Tom Savage gives us a chance, whereas Brock Osweiler did not. That is the biggest change. If Savage can be average and let the defense do its thing, I have hope.
Given the trajectory of the latest game against the Jags with Brock at the helm, had no change at QB occurred, I think the Texans would have lost that tilt as well as the next two against the Bengals and Titans. That would have meant Houston finished with a 7-9 record, and then we'd spend the off-season lamenting this organization's decisions, just like many off-seasons before.
Going with Tom Savage turned the tide and got a win against Jacksonville. I think there is a reasonable chance the Texans can beat the Bengals at NRG Stadium and then go win a close battle against a Titans team that is proving to be a legitimately strong opponent week in and week out. Winning the next two games changes that previous negative trajectory for a positive regular season record of 10-6. It ensures that Houston will host a wild card game as division champs. That may be the high point of the year, because I don't know if this team can beat the Raiders or Chiefs with as many injuries as Houston has right now, but we'll deal with that game prediction in a couple of weeks.
I don't know if Tom Savage is the future long-term answer at quarterback, but he's able to make reads and throws that Brock hasn't in the last 14 games. Savage at least gives this team a fighting chance to finally compete on offense.
I don't think Savage changes the ceiling of this team, which is a first round exit to Kansas City or Denver.
Best case is Savage looks good winning us the division. Worst case scenario is we don't win the division and Savage doesn't look good.
I think Rivers summed it up best. Savage might do well in the short term due to teams just not having that much tape on him (similar to how Brock did reasonably well he first two weeks before he got figured out). Once that advantage is removed, I don't think Savage or this offense is going to look differently.
Still, I think if Savage performs slightly well, it's going to raise some interesting questions going into the off-season.
I'm going to say the end of this season remains largely unchanged. With Osweiler, I just assumed we'd blow the division. With Savage, I think we can hang on to the division and still get bounced out in the first round.
That said, I'm very curious to watch how Savage performs to see if he might be worthy of getting a sniff at the starting job next year.
What say you, BRB readers? Last week’s question started some thoughtful discussion in the comments. Feel free to chime in below!