When your Houston Texans traded up to select Deshaun Watson with the twelfth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, we all knew it was only a matter of time before he became the Texans’ starting quarterback. After Watson’s selection, Bill O’Brien quickly insisted that Tom Savage was his starting quarterback. O’Brien told anyone who asked all the way through OTAs, training camp, and the preseason that Savage was QB1 and Watson was QB2. Although O’Brien was quick to praise Watson, he made it abundantly clear that this was Tom Savage’s team. To that end, many Texans fans believed, or at least hoped, that Watson would get a year, or at a minimum several games, to watch and learn before being thrust into the spotlight that accompanies being a starting quarterback in the NFL.
The Texans were dominated in every phase of the game. At halftime of the first game of the regular season, after saying for months that Tom Savage was the Texans’ unquestioned starting quarterback, O’Brien benched Savage for Watson.
To be clear, the Texans did not lose only because of Tom Savage. The Texans’ offensive line was simply putrid all day, often leaving the quarterback very little time to throw; the OL’s performance brought to mind the early days of the David Carr Era. For example:
lol malik jackson got in the backfield so quickly he thought it was a screen pic.twitter.com/T5JYioAGW7— charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) September 11, 2017
Just a pathetic effort by LT Kendall Lamm. Finish the play. Gonna get annihilated in film room for this BS pic.twitter.com/VTRZaXNLtL— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) September 11, 2017
Here's what scares you about Watson behind this line. Jeff Allen. Dear lord.. pic.twitter.com/tlwdXJbBHQ— Sean Pendergast (@SeanTPendergast) September 11, 2017
Houston’s wide receivers also had several horrific drops that were in no way on Savage; the ball was placed where it should have been, and the drops were egregious drive-killers. Shockingly, Houston’s defense, which many believed would be among the very best in the NFL (and still could well end up there), was bullied all afternoon by Jacksonville’s offense. Last Sunday was a total team failure in every sense of the phrase.
All that said, there’s no denying that Watson looked better equipped to deal with a sieve of an offensive line than Savage did. After taking the field in the second half, Watson avoided multiple sacks that surely would have felled Savage. Although he undeniably had numerous struggles of his own, Watson also had some success, particularly in keeping plays alive with his ability to maneuver within the pocket or to move of the pocket when it collapsed around him.
Thus, especially with O’Brien’s history of having the quickest hook around when it comes to his quarterbacks, it was no surprise to read speculation that that the Texans would make the change that occurred at halftime in Week One permanent, or at least extend it one more week to Thursday Night Football in Cincinnati to see how Watson fares. There are certainly valid arguments that it’d be a mistake to start Deshaun Watson this week, including but not limited to the concern that putting him behind him this offensive line is akin to putting him in front of a firing squad.
It’s also quite reasonable to express disgust with how O’Brien has once again handled the situation under center; regardless of what happens moving forward, this is a mess that O’Brien, if he didn’t create it all on his own (depending on whether you feel Rick Smith shares blame for the offensive line’s deficiency, be it from a lack of talent to the Duane Brown holdout and beyond), undoubtedly had a big hand in worsening.
There’ll be plenty of time to discuss and debate all that. For now, the most important thing to know is that your Houston Texans have a new starting quarterback. His name is Deshaun Watson.
I’d say this famous GIF, tweeted by Luke Easterling after DW4 entered the game on Sunday, is fitting once again.
You know where I stand on this, though I admit seeing precisely how abhorrent the Texans’ offensive line looked against the Jaguars does give me pause. How about you? Do you think this is a good move by O’Brien? Or did he just make another bad decision in a series of poor decisions concerning quarterback management?