Deshaun Watson could become the exception to Bill O’Brien’s rule.
“I think that there’s no substitute for experience,” O’Brien said in April when discussing rookie quarterbacks. “So I think it’s hard to ask a guy to come in straight from college and Day One he’s a starter on your team. But I know that there are some really good quarterbacks in this draft that we’re looking at, and we’ve met with a lot of them. We’re excited about continuing to get to know them. But, I just think for me as a general rule, that’s tough to start them as a Day One guy.”
The Texans eventually decided that they liked Watson enough to trade up from the 20s to No. 12 to get him. O’Brien thereafter dubbed Tom Savage the starter, even if G.M. Rick Smith declared that there will be competition.
The question becomes whether the door is open for Watson to supplant Savage, sooner than later. On Tuesday, O’Brien declared that Watson “is ahead of any rookie quarterback I’ve ever been around.”
That hardly means Watson will be the Week One starter. But if Watson outperforms Savage — and if the players know it — O’Brien may have no choice.
Five years ago, when Russell Wilson became the starter in Seattle as a rookie, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was praised for having the courage to make the call. The ballsy move, however, would have been to go with veteran free agent Matt Flynn, because the players in Seattle knew that Wilson was the best option on the roster.
If that’s what the Texans players eventually think, the brave thing for O’Brien won’t be to abandon his preferences but to stick with them.