For the first time since 2012, the Houston Texans have an outright, stand alone, mark it in Sharpie QB1 they are excited about. No longer shall we endure an offseason battle between two below-average quarterback options. No more crybabies when they do not get the starting job (a/k/a Ryan Mallett). No more quarterback carousel. NO MORE. ONWARD AND (maybe) UPWARD.
Now we have another issue on our hands. The backup quarterback role is one of the greatest positions in sports. Being a professional Clipboard Holder who gets paid millions sounds like a great job. However, as many teams experienced last year, having a sufficient backup option can save a season. In Week 1, the Texans had a backup plan in Deshaun Watson when Tom Savage looked like a juicy steak dropped into a tank of piranhas. When Watson went down in Week 9, the entire season sank with Savage’s return.
The Texans just signed Brandon Weeden to a one-year contract for his second stint on the roster. He was on the Tennessee Titans roster last year but did not play in a single game. In 2016, Weeden was on the Texans roster and never took the field. That means the Texans are entrusting the backup quarterback position to a guy who has not played in a regular season game since 2015. Awesome.
In a league that is built upon the phrase “what have you done for me lately,” Weeden has not done much to provoke the Texans to bring him back. After being selected 22nd in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Weeden had a below-average season, throwing 14 TDs and 17 INTs. Injuries and a classic Browns QB debacle in 2013 forced Weeden out as the in just two seasons.
His time with the Cowboys was short but productive. He completed 21 straight passes during a three game period in relief of Tony Romo.
Weeden’s current career stat line reads: 34 games, 559 passes, 6,462 yards, 31 touchdowns, 30 interceptions, and a passer rating of 76. A six-year career for a former first round pick, his resume and production screams “BUST.: His best attribute as a QB has always been his arm strength. Known for his quick decision-making in college, it has not transferred to the NFL, as too many times Weeden holds onto the ball too long.
We have seen Weeden perform admirably in a couple isolated games in his career. The Texans saw him demolish the Titans in 2015 in a 34-6 victory. He threw for 200 yards, 2 TDs, and zero interceptions that afternoon. The Titans had only three wins at the time; the Texans were scrambling to make the playoffs. His two wins for the Texans that season helped take them to the playoffs at 9-7.
Before Weeden re-signed with the Texans, they only had QBs on the roster in Deshaun Watson and Tyler Heinicke. Heinicke played in one game for the Texans last year before leaving with a concussion. Weeden is now set up to be the backup quarterback behind Watson.
Are the Texans done at the quarterback position? Most likely, yes. They are probably going into camp with these three signal-callers. Adding a rookie QB to the team does not seem fair to either Watson or the rookie. The Texans need to give Watson every moment of attention and to nurture his growth as much as possible. If Houston drafts a raw prospect, presumably in the sixth or seventh rounds, they would have to give him attention and provide him with a proportionate amount of dedication in order to reap the benefits of drafting him.
That is why adding Weeden DOES make sense. The 34 year old QB does not need much care. He is a seasoned vet who will not rock the boat or the locker room (since he has already been in it). Maybe he can even give us a tidbit or two about the Titans’ playbook after residing with the Titans all last year (albeit with a different coaching staff).
What does not make sense is the idea that Weeden will be given the same playbook as Watson. They’re two incredibly different quarterbacks; Weeden is an average athlete with a gunslinger mentality who will not leave the pocket, while Watson is a mobile quarterback whose playmaking potential is off the charts. Although Bill O’Brien has mentioned that the Texans will have a totally different offense than last year, that does not mean that the playing style matches up at all. Wide receivers like consistency from their quarterbacks play. If (God forbid) Watson goes down, Weeden will be the next man up. Immediately, the play calling has to change and the pace of play will slow down. Weeden is just inherently a different type of QB than Watson. Savage realized that early on when he continually complimented Watson for being able to do things that he could not.
What does Weeden bring to the film room or locker room that Watson cannot get from any other quarterback or Bill O’Brien? Whatever it is, O’Brien obviously likes the Oklahoma State product and prefers him over a ton of other qualified options at QB. Even though Weeden had salvaged a Texans season in the past and I dearly hope he does not have to do so in the near future, his career and performances do not instill confidence that he can steer the ship in the event of Watson’s absence. His 1:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio frightens me. Even with the best supporting cast in his career, Weeden’s record as a starting quarterback does not support a QB2 role. In the 25 games that Weeden has started, he is 6-19. At least the Texans know what they are getting.
That said, if you just need a chuckle or a reason to cry into your vintage David Carr jersey, watch this please.