HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – The Houston Texans will have their third different opening day quarterback in as many seasons in 2015 as either Ryan Mallett or free agent signee Brian Hoyer will assume the role held by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Schaub.
As the Texans began their organized team activities on Wednesday, the focus could have been on a variety position competitions including center and strong safety. The Texans, who have been searching for the answer at signal caller for several seasons, are hoping that the competition between Hoyer and Mallett will provide them with the answer they are looking for.
While Mallett is the default incumbent starter, the question remains on if he can be a capable NFL starting quarterback. After sitting behind Tom Brady since his rookie season of 2011, Mallett was acquired by the Texans in a trade with the Patriots just before the start of the 2014 regular season.
Despite Fitzpatrick being the starter for much of 2014, Mallett found himself as the lead QB for a pair of games including a solid 211 yard and two touchdown performance against the Browns (who were coincidentally enough led by Hoyer) leading the Texans to a 23-7 win on November 16th. The second start for Mallett not only resulted in a Texans 22-13 loss at NRG Stadium to the Bengals, but it also saw the end of Mallett’s first opportunity as a starting QB as his season ended with a torn pectoral muscle.
Mallett, while the returning Texans player with much more recent familiarity with the complex offense of Bill O’Brien, may not be the front-runner for the starting job as Hoyer comes in with more starts under his belt with mixed results in Cleveland. Mallett, who admitted that he isn’t lacking for confidence is focussing on just one person as this competition begins.
“I control what I do,” Mallett said. ” I try to work as hard as I can to be the best I can everyday and get better everyday and keep improving.”
Hoyer won two games for the Browns in 2013 before being lost for the season in his third start with an ACL injury. During the offseason the Browns added first round selection Johnny Manziel creating a quarterback controversy as the popular Manziel was the fan’s choice while Hoyer was the choice of head coach Mike Pettine. The competition brought national attention to the Browns with the popular Manziel drawing all kinds of attention.
While neither Mallett or Hoyer is the rock star than Manziel is, the fact that the HBO reality series Hard Knocks will be following the Texans will keep a bright spotlight on the competition. Hoyer is in a position where the attention on the QB position is normal to him.
“I’ve been through it before,” Hoyer said. “I’m not going to let affect me and I’ll just me myself and really focus on the things I can control.”
Mallett has shared meeting rooms with Hoyer in the past and he is well aware that Hoyer is looking to show the Browns and the rest of the NFL that he is a capable NFL starter.
“It’s just like old times and we haven’t missed a step,” Mallett said. “He’s come in here and he’s worked hard and I am trying to do the same thing.”
While still early in the process, both quarterbacks are still getting readjusted. Mallett, returning from a pectoral injury, and Hoyer by getting reaclimated with an offense he hasn’t worked in since he was last in New England in 2012.
The duo shares a focus to contribute to the team in any way they are asked to do so and leave the conversation as to who is winning the competition up to those covering the team.
“I think if you ask Ryan (Mallett) or myself we come in and we just focus on what we have to do and try to be the best quarterback we can be for this team and do whatever it takes to win,” Hoyer said. “You focus on what you can control focus on what you have to do to get better, how you make the offense better and leave it for (the media) to talk about.”
Alex Del Barrio can be heard on Saturday afternoons with Matt Murphy from 3-7 pm on Sportsradio 610. Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @ADBSportsguy