I have never made any bones about the fact that I love studying numbers. The whole idea is to get some sort of order in the chaos. There are all kinds of seemingly impossible philosophical questions that hopefully numbers can find some kind of reasonable answer for. The chief question is whether any particular quarterback is a franchise quarterback.
Once Tom Brady retired, there remained only seven quarterbacks currently under contract that have led their teams to at least a conference championship game. It would seem to be a rather random thing until you realize that Houston hasn’t had a team there since 1979. Warren Moon never led a team there. None of the quarterbacks that led the Houston Texans ever led a team there. So, it would seem like that is a decent enough place to start.
Now, different players have different career arcs, so we are primarily looking on a per game basis with our numbers. We will look at passing yards per game, rushing yards per game, and total yards per game. We will also look at touchdown percentage and interception percentage. Finally, we will also look at yards per attempt and traditional quarterback rating.
Champion Quarterbacks: 251.7 PYPG, 23.5 RYPG, 275.2 TYPG, 5.5 TD%, 1.9 INT%, 7.6 YPA, 97.9 QBR
This seems like a good enough place to start. There is so much money tied into these quarterbacks that it pays to have some sort of concrete idea of what we are looking for. Obviously, any individual from that group of seven could be cherrypicked to compare a guy to, but as a group the numbers are what they are. If your quarterback approaches those numbers then he very likely is a franchise quarterback. If he does not then he likely isn’t one.
Two trade scenarios and one free agent scenario have emerged as possibilities for the Texans. When we say that, that means that someone outside of us have mentioned it as a possibility. As much as we would like to generate our own rumors and our fantasies, we will at least set those aside and focus on things that might have legs in some sort of alternative universe.
The Trade Candidates
Lamar Jackson— 174.4 PYPG, 63.4 RYPG, 6.1 TD%, 2.3 INT%, 7.4 YPA, 96.7 QBR
Logical Comparison: Jalen Hurts
Why he is on the list: The Texans have more draft capital over the next two years than any other team and they have cap money that most other teams do not have.
The yardage markers are unique to say the least. However, he is better than the championship aggregate in rushing, TD percentage, and nearly equal in quarterback rating. Obviously, he would be most similar to Jalen Hurts from the first list. Hurts’ numbers are not quite as good as Jackson except when you get to interception rate and yards per attempt.
So, the 200 million dollar question is whether Jackson can experience the success that Hurts did this past season. However, a part of that could be a top notch defense that won some games for them. A part of that could be the skill position talent that was far superior to anything Jackson has enjoyed in Baltimore. A part of it is likely an offensive system more conducive to his style of play. The odds of getting all of those things with a huge salary going his way are long, but not impossible.
Dak Prescott— 257.1 RPYG, 16.9 RYPG, 274.0 TYPG, 5.1 TD%, 2.0 INT%, 7.6 YPA, 97.8 QBR
Logical Comparison: Joe Burrow
Why he is on the list: The rumor mill going around said that the Cowboys were hot to trot to get C.J. Stroud. Of course, this rumor is more than a week old. If we follow the line of thinking here, the Boys would have to trade up to at least number two to guarantee a shot at Stroud. The only commodity they have worth that kind of capital is Prescott. So, you could see a deal forming around the number two pick, a likely second selection somewhere, and Prescott coming to Houston.
When we played the Cowboys this past season, I asked the Cowboys counterpart whether Dak was a franchise guy. He answered with an emphatic yes and the rest of us kind of chuckled in the background. See, Burrow has put up similar regular season numbers as Prescott. They throw for a similar amount of yards. They have the ability to run, but neither are that dynamic on that level. Their touchdown rates are similar and their interception rates are similar. Even their yards per attempt are similar.
Burrow is 5-2 in the playoffs with 1826 yards, 67.3%, nine touchdowns, and four interceptions. Prescott is 2-4 in the playoffs with 1,559 yards, 63.4%, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. They don’t look that different. Yet, one has led his team to a Super Bowl and a conference championship game. The other one hasn’t gotten out of the divisional round. Is that all on Prescott? That’s hard to say but he reminds me of Warren Moon, He was always putting up good numbers, but for whatever reason he just couldn’t get over the hump.