It’s with a sad heart and single tear in my eye that I’ve sat down to type up the final the Five Best...series for the summer of 2020. Digging through the various stats, seeing all the things players have done to help the Houston Texans, and combing through all the highlights has helped soothe the pain of the offseason. Hope you feel the same.
Anyway, without further adieu, let’s dive in. These are the Top Five Quarterbacks in Houston Texans history.
#5 T.J. Yates “The Bengal Killer”
T.J. Yates is not only one of the current offensive special assistants on the Texans’ coaching staff; he’s locked into a special place in Texans history. On December 11, 2011, Yates started his second game for the Texans as a rookie, filling in for the injured Matt Leinart, who in turn had filled in for the injured Matt Schaub. Yates threw for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns to help secure the Texans’ first playoff berth in franchise history. His performance earned Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors, but his next effort was what really put him on the map. Yates followed up the first ever Houston Texans playoff clinching with the first playoff win in franchise history, downing the Bengals 31-10 in one of the greatest games in Houston football history.
After former Texans general manager Rick Smith traded Yates to the Falcons in 2014, Houston re-signed him on October 27, 2015, just in time for Yates to start against the Bengals once more and beat them 10-6. Apparently, if you need Houston to take out Cincinnati, you need Yates under center.
The Texans would go on to cut and bring Yates back one more time in 2017. While Yates is not statistically in the Top 5 QBs in franchise history, the legend of T.J. “Bengal Killer” Yates will live on forever.
#4 David Carr - The First Ever
A lot of people have the Texans fan equivalent of PTSD remembering David Carr under center. For a guy saddled with a weak expansion roster, he was fine. First off, Carr delivered the Texans’ first ever win in their first ever game against the Dallas Cowboys. That right there erases a lot of ill will for later blunders.
While Houston paid the price of the NFL’s “Nerfed” attempt to not have another overpowered expansion team like they created with the ‘90s Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, Carr still managed to land the second spot in the statistical hierarchy behind Matt Schaub. With 13,391 total yards, 124 touchdowns, and a 75.5 career passer rating (which lands him just outside the Top 100 greatest passers in NFL history), Carr did a decent job of making lemon out of lemonade. Conversely, it’s a sad indictment of the Texans’ career quarterback roster that he lands at #4 on this list.
#3 Sage Rosenfels - The Forgotten One
If you ask someone who’s been a Texans fan for 10 years or less who Sage Rosenfels is, they might not be able to answer you. From 2006 to 2008, Rosenfels stepped in to relieve Matt Schaub and ended his time in Houston with an 84.3 passer rating, 65.6% completions, 3,380 yards, 24 touchdowns, and a 5.3 touchdown percentage (good enough to land #3 on the Texans’ all-time list for QBs who started five or more games). While Rosenfels was forgettable, he actually left his mark on H-Town sports history.
Rosenfels led not one, but two, late game comebacks against the Tennessee Titans, one in 2006 where Rosenfels tossed three late game touchdowns to take Houston from a 3-21 deficit to 22-28 before time expired. In 2007, he threw four different fourth quarter touchdowns, which tied an NFL record, to swing a 7-32 deficit to a 36-35 lead, only to watch the Titans kick a game-winning field goal. Had those two games gone differently, Rosenfels would have his name enshrined with Yates in H-Town sports mythology, but unfortunately ‘twas not meant to be.
#2 Matt Schaub - Bulls on Parade
Rarely in NFL history will you find a quarterback who did so much to elevate a team and so much to destroy that very same franchise. Schaub is currently entrenched firmly atop the Texans’ statistical charts for franchise quarterbacks with 23,221 passing yards, 124 touchdowns, and a QB rating of 90.9. Anyone who’s been around for awhile can easily conjure memories of Schaub rolling out on a QB bootleg, a staple of Gary Kubiak’s zone running game offense. Kubes would call up a run to one side of the field with Arian Foster multiple times, and then when the defense finally bit on it at the line, Schaub would roll off to the other direction and hit Andre Johnson or Kevin Walter or Owen Daniels for an automatic first down - if not six points. Everyone in the stadium knew it was coming, but few defenses could ever stop it. It was truly a thing of beauty.
Unfortunately, Schaub would follow up the 2012 season (arguably the greatest season in franchise history) with one of the worst performances by a seasoned quarterback in recent memory. Armed with DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson, something snapped in Schaub’s psyche and he turned into a pick-six machine. He went on to set the NFL record for most consecutive games with a pick-six (4) and went down with an injury in Week 6. Enter T.J. Yates, who did his best to honor Schaub’s efforts by throwing a pick-six of his own immediately to extend Texans fans misery to five straight games with a pick-six.
By the time the nightmare of the 2013 season was over, Schaub had played in ten games, averaged only 231 yards per game, and threw 14 passes to the other team. A truly excellent football career in Houston was tarnished in those ten games, but it shouldn’t make all the good that came before it disappear.
#1 Deshaun Watson - “The Michael Jordan of Football”
If you’ve read this far and didn’t think Deshaun Watson was going to sit in this spot, you must be very, very bored, as you clearly know nothing about the Houston Texans, the NFL, or football in general and chose this article as your entry into this world.
Starting off with Watson might be the greatest decision you’ve ever made.
While Watson has the luster of taking down the Alabama Crimson Tide’s Goliath with his Clemson Tiger Davids during the 2016 NCAA National Championship Game, a lot of turmoil roiled around Watson when he was preparing for the 2017 NFL Draft. There was a lot of talk about his “pitch speed” and how it was too slow to compete at the NFL level.
Somewhere in the midst of this, two-time National Championship Clemson Tiger coach Dabo Swinney came out and said, “If you pass on Deshaun Watson, it’s like passing on Michael Jordan”. Weeks later, then QB guru, now Las Vegas Raiders head coach, Jon Gruden compared Watson to Jordan in his rookie season.
What has DW4 done to earn that praise? Well, let’s see.
- Won a High School and NCAA Championship. Check
- Set record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie QB in one month. Check
- First player in NFL history with multiple five touchdown passes in his first two seasons. Check.
- First player in NFL history to have 4,000+ passing yards, 25+ passing touchdowns, 500+ rushing yards, and 5 rushing touchdowns in a single season. Check.
The list goes on and on.
All those stats don’t really tell the tale, though. It’s those moments where, as Gruden put it, Watson wills his team to a win, that really put him solidly atop this list. Look no further than the 2019 AFC Divisional Round matchup with the Buffalo Bills to see that magic on display.
Watson is a special player, with a great spark of intelligence in his eyes, an amazing amount of passion in his heart, an overabundance of influence that makes him a leader of men, and a guy with all the talent necessary to win it all at any level of competition.
Now, if Bill O’Brien can put him in a position to do just that, we can all go home happy.
There you have it. The last of the 2020 Five Best lists. If you missed the prior ones, here you go:
What do you think? Believe someone else needs to be in the mix here? Think Ryan Fitzpatrick or Case Keenum or Tony Banks belongs on the list?