Tuesday Aug. 22, 2017 will go down as the day when Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien sucked the life out of a portion of his fanbase before the 2017 NFL season even started. It wasn’t the first time O’Brien said Tom Savage would be his starting quarterback, but it was the first time I accepted it as reality.
Most people knew it, but many folks in Houston, including myself didn’t want to accept it. There was hope that for the first time in the O’Brien era there would be some excitement, charisma and upside at the most important position on the field.
I was living in a false reality and enjoyed every second of it. I was drunk, borderline wasted, on Deshaun Watson Kool-Aid and it was one of the funnest binges of my life, but now I’m hungover, head first in a toilet and hacking chunks with a painful Savage hangover.
Savage will join the appropriate company of Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Ryan Fitzpatrick on the list of missionary Texans quarterbacks with no upside that can hopefully manage the game and lean on the defense to win. On the bright side, the O’Brien-led Texans have won back-to-back AFC South division titles with average starting quarterback play.
The lipstick on the pig of mediocre quarterback play under O’Brien has been the incompetence of the rest of the AFC South, which could again be the case in 2017.
Indianapolis has incoherent ownership that keeps Chuck Pagano employed and a banged-up Andrew Luck. Jacksonville has arguably the worst quarterback situation in the league and Tennessee is the popular pick to win the division despite the fact they’re 14-34 against the AFC South since 2009 and quarterback Marcus Mariota has never won a game against Indianapolis or Houston (Stats courtesy of MMQB).
The Texans won the AFC South in 2016 with Brock Osweiler so maybe they can do the same with Savage in 2017. However, forgive me for not expecting too much from Savage, who has had trouble staying healthy in his first three NFL seasons and whose next touchdown pass in the regular season will be the first of his career.
In the offseason the possibility of a 37-year-old Tony Romo with a battered back starting was a more intriguing option than Savage. Some Houstonians were even clamoring for the services of Jay Cutler to avoid the thought of Savage as the starter.
When the Texans acquired Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft there was a buzz in the city. Watson’s pedigree, talent, charisma and upside had many people feeling like the Texans had finally found their franchise quarterback, a quarterback who unlike Savage wasn’t like the rest of the quarterbacks that have lined up under center for O’Brien.
Watson might not be the savior especially at a bust-heavy position like quarterback. There are plenty of things that he needs to work on and growing pains he needs to go through to reach his potential and even then there are no guarantees, but my disappointment has as much to do with my lack of confidence in Savage than my belief in Watson.
Despite a three-year head start in the NFL Savage hasn’t proven much more at this level than Watson, but apparently he knows the system, which was the most common praise used to describe why Savage is the more viable option for O’Brien. Watson will start the 2017 season on the sidelines watching Tom Savage lead O’Brien’s offense against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 10.
Watson will eventually get his chance to be the starting quarterback, but in the meantime it’s time to finally accept the fact that Thomas Benjamin Savage is the guy for now. Maybe Savage could be the next Tony Romo, a guy who was in a system for three years before becoming a full-time starter and went on to have a successful career. If that happens I’ll gladly eat the crow and admit I was wrong, but until then I will be counting down the days until Watson gets his opportunity.
My Watson buzz has worn off for now so please excuse me while I go back to the toilet with my Savage reality hangover.
You can hear Landry Locker on Mad Radio M-F 6-10 a.m. on SportsRadio 610 and on Saturday’s from 1-4 p.m. on Hear Me Out with Matt Hammond. Follow him on Twitter @landrylocker.