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Red Zone Play: Four Outta Three Ain’t Bad

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Savage? Watson? Who’s the favorite to lead the Texans to the promised land in 2017?

NFL: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans The Tennessean-USA TODAY Sports

Since it’s “let’s debate who should start for Houston under center” time, we can all expect dozens of hot takes, predictions, and prognostications on just who will be QB1 for the Texans on Kickoff Day 2017.

Everyone seems to have an opinion based on raw stats, win/loss records, available game film, and even plain old gut feelings. Unfortunately, we don’t have much apples-to-apples information to compare Deshaun Watson and Tom Savage,

Savage bounced through several schools before Houston selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. From Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt, Savage hit more college towns than some beer vendors. He was forced to sit out the 2011 season due to NCAA transfer rules and redshirted in 2012. None of that sounds remotely similar to the collegiate careers of any Super Bowl Champion quarterback, but Savage did end his college career on the upside.

Deshaun Watson, however, had a far more glory-filled road. Watson landed at Clemson in early 2014 and never looked back, winning an NCAA Championship in the process and playing in another title game. While Savage moved from team to team in search of a starting gig, Watson simply got into the game as a freshman and didn’t do much – except set a school record by passing for six touchdowns and 435 yards in the first game he played in.

Since there is no game film, no stats, no coaching notes, or anything else to compare the two quarterbacks on the NFL playing field, all we’re left with is examining their collegiate careers.

Tom Savage - courtesy of sports-reference.com

Savage carried a career average of a 61.2 completion percentage with 37 touchdowns, 19 picks and a rating of 131.1. Not too shabby for a guy who moved more than a fresh box of fidget spinners.

Deshaun Watson - courtesy of sports-reference.com

Watson, in comparison, was even more successful: 67.4 completion percentage, 90 touchdowns, 32 picks, and a whopping 157.2 rating.

What many folks may not realize is these stats aren’t necessarily apples-to-apples either as the Clemson is obviously a far more stable environment than Rutgers/Arizona/Pitt for a quarterback to thrive in. Not to mention that I maintain my belief that Dabo Swinney is the best coach in the NCAA in recent memory, despite what anyone from Alabama might say. In fact, should Bill O’Brien decide to leave H-Town, I’ll be waving the “Bring Swinney to NRG” banner.

When you look at the numbers and check the available film, the only true determination you can make is that by college standards Houston is in a great position when it comes to quarterbacks.

Ultimately, I think Watson is the starter sooner rather than later and Savage quickly becomes one of the best QB2s in the league.

If Rick Smith can sort out the mess on the right side of the offensive line, Watson and rookie running back D’Onta Foreman could very well be the 2017 equivalent of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, with the exception that the supporting cast in Houston won’t let them the Texans down like a certain roster in Dallas did last season.

Either way, with either quarterback, it’s a great time to be a fan of the Houston Texans. Now for the games to begin!

What do you think? Have a better way to pull a tale of the tape on the two quarterbacks? Bring it in the comments below!