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.