HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – While Bill O’Brien wasn’t forthcoming with who his starting quarterback will be for the Houston Texans’ Thursday night match against the Cincinnati Bengals it’s becoming clear that rookie Deshaun Watson will make his first NFL start on Thursday Night Football.
Multiple media outlets have reported that O’Brien will start the 12th overall selection in this year’s draft despite refusing to name him as such at his Tuesday press conference.
Tom Savage took just 31 snaps, all in the first half and finished seven for 13 with 62 yards passing with six sacks taken and two fumbles lost. O’Brien elected to bench his starter since the beginning of the offseason program and training camp after just 30 minutes of football.
Tom Savage’s agent Neil Schwartz took to Mike Florio’s Pro Football Talk Live evening podcast on Wednesday to defend his client and give context to what he believes is a false narrative being presented about Savage’s benching and that the Texans did not defend his client.
A transcript of most of the conversation is available below. You can listen to the podcast in its entirety here.
What did he make of the quick hook from Bill O’Brien in the first half of the first game similar to what happened to Brian Hoyer in 2015?
“I watched all 31 plays, because that was the extent of what Tom saw in the first half and I can’t figure out why he’s benching Tom. I went through every single play in fact I went even a step further I asked two different NFL personnel people/coaches of two separate teams to break down and review the film to see if I was missing something. Let’s go through it, he went 7 for 13. 12 of the 13 balls Mike, touch the receiver’s hands. The only ball that didn’t was the strip sack fumble that they called incomplete. So 12 of the 13 balls that he threw touched the receiver’s hands, seven were completions, five were drops. “
That’s the part that we can’t figure out. If you’ve watched the film and you sit there and say, I see something wrong and he deserves to benched, I wouldn’t be on the phone with you right now. The second issue I’ve heard, he held the ball too long. He did not hold the ball too long. Every play except for the one that was 3rd and 12 he held it, he got sacked in less than three seconds. The 3rd and 12 he did hold the ball, but he was looking to see if he can get a receiver open or hopefully a receiver would get open so they could you know.”
“He was frustrated to get benched at halftime. Bill O’Brien has every right to do what he wants to do. It’s his team. He coaches the team how he sees fit and he thought by bringing Deshaun in at halftime, I get it, would light a spark. But, Deshaun didn’t have any more success than Tom. He got sacked four times. Here’s Deshaun say a better mobile quarterback than Tom, Tom got sacked six times, Deshaun got sacked four times. Deshaun basically through almost two pick-sixes. I’m still trying to figure this out again I go back and I watched the film, 31 plays, you get benched. It makes no sense.”
“I wanted to defend Tom. This was my choice. I spoke to Tom and Tom was ok with it and he was comfortable and I spoke to my partner and someone I felt had to defend Tom and I didn’t feel the coaching staff defended Tom or defended his performance. I would love to sit down and watch the film with Bill O’Brien and go through every single play and tell me, ‘Why are you benching him after 31 plays? Just show it to me.’ It wasn’t just that, I asked two independent NFL evaluators to break the film down and tell my ‘Why are you benching him after 31 plays.’ If he threw two pick sixes in the first half, I get it, I understand it. If he was inaccurate with the ball, I get it. 31 plays? I don’t get it.
“I think he just wanted to be defended. I think that’s really the essence… you just benched him, after 31 plays. It just doesn’t make sense. Tom’s obviously taking the high road and I would only expect Tom to take the high road, and he’s going to support Deshaun and he’s going to support the team. He wants to beat Cincinnati, he wants to be apart of the Houston organization, he loves it down there. It’s just frustrating, to be benched after 31 plays, it doesn’t make sense.”
Here’s the problem that we had was that the narrative of why he was benched wasn’t being accurately depicted or portrayed and we wanted to make sure that the facts came out. We’re asking everyone, “Watch the film”. We’re not sitting here saying that Bill O’Brien doesn’t have that right. We understand, he has every right to bench Tom Savage. It’s his team he can do what he wants. We’re just trying to say to sit here and defend Tom Savage and say ‘Show us why you’re benching him?’ He doesn’t have to, he doesn’t owe Tom an explanation, he doesn’t owe me an explanation, he doesn’t know anybody an explanation. It’s his team, he can do what he wants to do. We’re trying to defend Tom though, because we don’t get this benching. This makes absolutely no sense. Part of the problem, we recognize they’re missing their left tackle. Their right tackle had two torn patellar tendons. I get that. It’s sometimes a little bit beyond just Bill O’Brien so we just don’t get this. They don’t owe us any explanation. I don’t want anyone to think they owe us an explanation. They do not owe us any explanation, but at the same time, I’ve got to defend my client and his reputation. Because I’ve read places where ok ‘he’s held the ball too long, inaccurate. He wasn’t accurate with the ball, inaccurate.’ That’s why I’m asking, just watch the film.”
“Ok great, so they did that. At halftime they did that, they brought in Deshaun, and what happened to Deshaun; and this isn’t a knock on Deshaun please, he’s just getting caught in the cross hairs. Deshaun got sacked four times. Tom got sacked six times. Deshaun threw almost two pick sixes, again watch the film. Again this is not about Deshaun Watson, this is about.. I don’t get Bill O’Brien and this decision. I agree, you want someone who’s more mobile, great you made the change. It didn’t work. So now you go into game two, I think you might have to change the pass protection, maybe I’m not a coach. Maybe you go max protect, you keep a tight end in, or you keep a running back in, or you keep them both in to help the offensive line. You help the quarterback. I mean five drops didn’t help either, again, am I asking them to bench any wide receivers? No. DeAndre Hopkins is a phenomenal wide receiver. You’d never bench DeAndre Hopkins, he’s a tremendous asset on the football field, but why is Tom Savage the one getting benched?
“I got the benching at half time. We need to change something up, maybe Deshaun will provide that spark. Great, no problem. But, how does Tom lose his job? How does he go from the starter, after all of training camp, since Deshaun’s been the first round draft pick, this has been our starter. I heard it this afternoon, the comparisons with Brian Hoyer. You know what that’s Brian Hoyer, this is Tom Savage. I’ve got to defend Tom Savage.
“I don’t know. I’d love to find out.”
“No, No, No”
“100 percent correct and that’s what I have a problem with. Listen, if they wanted Deshaun Watson to be the starter they’re entitled to it. it’s their prerogative, it’s their team, but you gave Tom,…Tom earned the right to be the starter. It wasn’t given to him. He’s earned that right and he’s worked everyday in training camp and exhibition season to be the starter on the field, off the field, to maintain a leadership role; and after 31 plays you bench him? I have an issue.”
“Tom wants to be a Houston Texan. Tom wants the Houston Texans to win. Bill O’Brien owes me no explanation. I just disagree with Bill O’Brien and I’m defending Tom Savage; and Tom would disagree with Bill O’Brien’s decision. He wants to be the starter. He feels he’s earned it. He’s not entitled to it. He’s earned it. At the same token, Bill O’Brien’s made the decision that Deshaun Watson’s the starter. Tom’s taken the high road. The media’s reported that. Publicly, Tom’s taking the high road and he’s not happy with the decision and he’s going to support the team and do everything he can to help the team win and Bill knows that. That’s evident, but remember at the same token, someone’s gotta defend this guy. Unfortunately I felt the organization didn’t defend him. 31 plays, you bench him. That’s not defending a player and this is just incredulous in my opinion.”
“Well, let’s just put it this way. Getting benched after 31 plays, is incredulous to me so at this point in time, nothing will surprise me. So I don’t have a response because I’m shocked how he got benched after 31 plays.”
“Just watch the film. This isn’t about me. This is just about watching the film. Let the person watch the film. Watch the game and they’ll come to their own opinion and I think they’ll see the same thing I see. Again I only wish the Houston Texans the best of luck. I only wish Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith the best of luck, but I disagree with this decision after just 31 plays.