By: Mike Meltser (@MikeMeltser)
One of my philosophies about football is a simple one: have a plan. Good plan or bad plan, but an organization must always have a plan. Watching the Texans get humiliated by the Jaguars 29-7 on Sunday at NRG Stadium, and seeing a mid-game Week 1 QB change for the second time in three years makes me question if a plan exists.
I don’t care if you were for Tom Savage starting the season, Deshaun Watson getting the call as a rookie, or some other option during the offseason. Bill O’Brien switching quarterbacks one half into 2017 is the type of amateurish decision-making you normally see on Saturdays. Bob McNair may as well hand out 85 scholarships and funnel his revenues into expensive lockers, uniforms, and a bloating administrative staff.
The Texans finished training camp a few weeks ago, and then changed starting quarterbacks by 1:45pm of a noon kickoff in Week 1. What is the purpose of training camp if you completely change directions so quickly into a season?
If Houston wanted to start Watson, then make that decision in May or June, and go through all of camp giving him the vast share of the reps with the starters. Personally, I don’t view Watson as a QB I want to play right away. However, if you do, then O’Brien needs to build the offense around him. Run-pass options, more bootleg, more slant passes across the middle of the field.
When the Redskins started RG3 as a rookie, they tailored their entire offense around his strengths and weaknesses. When the 49ers named Colin Kaepernick their starter over Alex Smith in 2012, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman incorporated more of the pistol offense, and utilized Kaepernick’s mobility effectively. The Texans threw Watson into the game down 19-zip, with a gameplan designed for Savage, against one of the better young defenses in the NFL.
If the Texans felt that Savage was on such thin ground entering the season, O’Brien should have approached the entire offseason getting Watson ready to start. In the alternative, if the team liked Watson’s development but wanted a steadier stopgap, they could have pursued Jay Cutler, or the more polarizing Kaepernick.
Related to willy-nilly decision making at QB is the disgrace of an offensive line performance on Sunday, when the Texans allowed ten (10!) sacks to the Jaguars. How early did Rick Smith know that Duane Brown was unhappy with his contract status? If it was early in the offseason, why wasn’t tackle a bigger priority in free agency? While I like the prospects for Zach Cunningham and D’Onta Foreman, could Smith have targeted a tackle earlier in the 2017 NFL Draft? Going into the season with Kendall Lamm, Breno Giacomini, and Chris Clark appears to be a glaring miscalculation.
Week 1 is prime for overreaction in the NFL, but that overreaction should be reserved for fans and media, not head coaches. Regardless of which quarterback you prefer, discussing a season-opening QB switch for the second time in three years is completely inexplicable.