Bill O’Brien tiptoes around claim that G.M. talked him out of starting Deshaun Watson

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The astounding performance of Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson has caused many to wonder why Watson wasn’t starting earlier than he did. Though he got the job at halftime of a Week One loss to the Jaguars, if Watson had been installed sooner, he would have been more prepared to thrive from the get-go, because he would have been getting the bulk of the first-team reps.

Matt Hammond of SportsRadio 610 in Houston recently reported that coach Bill O’Brien wanted to promote Watson to the starting job after his performance in the first game of the preseason, but that G.M. Rick Smith talked him out of it. (While PFT can’t vouch for the latter portion of that report, O’Brien indeed knew that Watson was special based on his performance in the preseason opener.)

Per the report, Smith told O’Brien to “give it time,” in order to ensure that Watson wasn’t being rushed.

Of course, if that’s accurate, O’Brien didn’t give it much time. He ultimately gave it 30 minutes of one game that counts, and now it’s clear Watson is the guy. Responding to the report on Wednesday, O’Brien didn’t deny the claim that Smith advised O’Brien to tap the brakes at a time when O’Brien wanted to break in Watson.

“I don’t know where — look, I think, like I’ve said for umpteenth time, we have an organization here that works very well together,” O’Brien told reporters. “I decide who plays, Rick is in charge of personnel. I’m in charge of the 46-man gameday roster. I feel like every decision that I make is in the best interest of the team. Rick and I talk every single day about the roster, we go over every player. We just met this morning on the roster, we met yesterday on the roster. We have a good relationship. I don’t know. I just can’t understand it. I just think the big thing for us is to be focused on Kansas City.”

At this point, there’s no reason for O’Brien to delve into the internal dynamics of the decision to give the starting job to Tom Savage, and to keep Savage in the starting role through the first two quarters of the first game of the season. Regardless, O’Brien clearly made the call to switch to Watson at halftime of the Jacksonville game — and O’Brien clearly made the right decision.

11 responses to “Bill O’Brien tiptoes around claim that G.M. talked him out of starting Deshaun Watson

  1. Teams should have listened to Dabo Swinney when he compared Deshaun to Michael Jordan.

  2. Bill O’Brien did the classic, I will obey my boss until I can “reasonably” get away with doing what He wanted to do in the first place. Yeah we all have been there, from Retail to the NFL, we all have that one boss that you just smile and are like…yeah okay…great idea sir

  3. Rick Smith was trying to showcase Savage to leverage a draft pick out of him so he could show he was the smartest guy in the room. Rick Smith isn’t a deep thinker…makes very superficial moves.

  4. “Han Fastolfe says:
    October 4, 2017 at 6:07 pm
    Rick Smith was trying to showcase Savage to leverage a draft pick out of him so he could show he was the smartest guy in the room. Rick Smith isn’t a deep thinker…makes very superficial moves.”

    See the Brock Trade for even more evidence supporting this statement.

  5. Just goes to show what an inexact science it is picking players or deciding when to play them. It’s not unusual for coaches to want to ease rookies onto the field especially QBs. If it was easy the Browns would have taken him. Or Brady would have been a first round pick.

  6. “Look, uh, I’d love to throw him under the bus to make myself look good, but you see, he’s still my boss, sorta, so just in case, you know, just in case, I don’t want to come right out and say “I TOLD YOU SO!”. That wouldn’t be a good look, and could come back to bite me, so for the record, I may or may not have been a lot smarter than him all along…”.

  7. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the kid can do in KC. If he lights them up for 30 points plus, I think Houston is suddenly odds on favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

  8. Can someone tell me why Rick Smith still has a job? Seriously, how can someone with so little football knowledge have a GM job and last 10+ years (and before someone says it, I’m still lukewarm on Roseman as the GM. The fact we don’t have much in draft picks next year might bite us down the line).

  9. phillyphever says:
    October 4, 2017 at 7:30 pm
    Can someone tell me why Rick Smith still has a job? Seriously, how can someone with so little football knowledge have a GM job and last 10+ years (and before someone says it, I’m still lukewarm on Roseman as the GM. The fact we don’t have much in draft picks next year might bite us down the line).
    ——————————–

    So let me get this right…You’d rather have the draft picks than Deshaun Watson? So your prediction, I assume, is that Watson flames out sooner rather than later? Reminder , Coach Bill developed Brady who had the talent and smarts to take direction. Watson appears to be in the same class with legs.

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