After the news of quarterback Tony Romo’s retirement hit, the Houston Texans must adjust their plans for 2017 because Tom Savage is not the answer
Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien earned the reputation as a quarterback whisperer during his first two seasons on the job. In those years O’Brien managed to win nine games while starting journeymen such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates, Brandon Weeden and Ryan Mallett. Then in 2016, he got a big-money guy in Brock Osweiler during free agency.
Osweiler truly tested that quarterback whisperer title. O’Brien and his new player never got on the same page. Sure, they still managed nine wins somehow—and a postseason victory—but the free agent quarterback was awful. He was so bad that the Texans actually sent him along with both a second- and a sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for a fourth-round selection. This was a straight up NBA style salary dump by Houston and the belief was they would use the freed up space to sign quarterback Tony Romo once he was cut by the Dallas Cowboys.
That never happened though and after a game of chicken, the Texans saw their potential savior opt for a job calling games with CBS. So now that Romo is retired, the Texans are going to be tested in what they were saying recently as they claimed they’re happy with Tom Savage as their starting quarterback and Brandon Weeden as his backup. Here’s what O’Brien said, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com:
“Well first of all, Tony is under contract so he’s a Dallas Cowboy,” O’Brien said. “We feel like, right now, we have two quarterbacks that’ll be there on April 17, the beginning of our offseason program. It’ll be Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. We are really looking forward to working with those guys. Both those guys can throw the football. Tom is a guy who played two or three games for us last year, played well, did some good things for our football team. Still a young player, so we’re real excited to work with him. We’re excited to be working with Brandon. Two years ago, he helped us win a couple games as our starting quarterback, so that’s where it is right now. Now, every day in this league is a fluid situation. Every day, whether it’s the draft or free agency or someone gets released or whatever that is. But today, as we sit here right now, we’re excited and we will be excited about who we have in that room, and of course, over the next few weeks, maybe we add to that room, maybe we don’t…”
Let’s just call all that talk what it is, talk. There’s no way the Houston Texans can feel good about Tom Savage as a starting quarterback. Savage has zero career touchdowns, and has struggled with injuries almost as much as the recently-retired Romo, who is 37 years old and played behind an atrocious offensive line for much of his career.
Savage hurt his knee during his minimal time on the field as a rookie in 2014 and then missed the entire 2015 season with a shoulder injury. Once elevated to the starting job in 2016, he was hurt again during his second start. He then watched the postseason from the sidelines and with him going 3-for-3 with injury-plagued seasons banking on him to stay healthy as a starter would be unwise. That’s without even mentioning that he simply isn’t very good.
In all honesty, even Brandon Weeden would be a better option to start. Weeden has more career starts (25) than Savage (2) and really wasn’t bad when last given the opportunity. During his three starts in 2015 for the Cowboys, he completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 738 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. Sure he wasn’t spectacular, but he was a decent game manager, and didn’t get hurt like Savage often does.
This isn’t to say Weeden is the answer, but just to highlight Savage absolutely is not. He isn’t even the best option Houston has on their roster now. The fact is, the Texans need to get serious about the quarterback spot. Players like Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III are all available and way better options than Savage. There’s also the chance to trade for a guy like A.J. McCarron of the Cincinnati Bengals.
A different argument would be to draft a quarterback. However, with only a couple guys who can start right away in the 2017 class, this would be a huge gamble for a team drafting 25th overall. Instead, Houston needs to make sure they have a guy who can start now and if a rookie falls, that would be a bonus. It really doesn’t matter which of these options are pursued by the Texans, but they need something besides Tom Savage. Otherwise O’Brien and all his friends may be looking for a new job in 2018.