Savage’s agent sounds off on benching

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For the second time in three years, the Texans have benched their starting quarterback after one game. For the first time in a long time, an agent has gone on the record to dispute the decision to bench a player.

Appearing on PFT Live, agent Neil Schwartz questioned the decision to bench Tom Savage, who lasted two quarters — like Brian Hoyer did in Week One of the 2015 season.

“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,” Schwartz said. “I went through every single play, in fact I went even a step further. I asked two different NFL personnel people also ex-coaches, two separate teams to evaluate, break down and to review the film and see if I was missing something and let’s go through it. He went seven for 13. 12 of those 13 balls, Mike, touched the receivers 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 receivers hands. Seven were completions, five were drops.”

It’s a somewhat stunning decision for an agent to play the role of disgruntled high-school parent and essentially confront the coach after the game. What does, in the case, the agent want to accomplish?

“I wanted to defend Tom and this was my choice,” Schwartz said. “I spoke to Tom and Tom was OK with and comfortable and I spoke to my partner, and someone I felt had to defend Tom. And I didn’t feel that the coaching staff defended Tom or defended his performance and 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. I’ve asked two independent NFL evaluators to break the film down and tell me why are you benching him after 31 plays. If he threw two pick sixes in the first half I get it I understand. If he was inaccurate with the ball I get it. 31 plays, I don’t get it.”

So what does Savage want?

“I think he just wants to be defended,” Schwartz said. “You just benched him after 31 plays. It just doesn’t make sense. So Tom’s obviously taken the high road and I would only expect Tom to take the high road and he’s gonna support DeShaun, he’s gonna support the team and he wants to be a part of the Houston organization, he loves it down there. It’s just frustrating and to be benched after 31 plays it just doesn’t make sense.”

It seems based on these comments as if Savage no longer wants to be a Texan. Schwartz made it clear that Savage has no desire to leave.

“Tom wants to be a Houston Texan,” Schwartz said. “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. But by the same token guess what? Bill O’Brien made the decision that Deshaun Watson’s the starter. . . . So publicly Tom’s taking the high road and he’s not happy with the decision and he’s gonna support the team and do anything he can to help the team win. Bill knows that, that’s evident but remember the same token someone’s got to defend this guy and unfortunately I feel like the organization didn’t defend him. Thirty-one plays and you bench him. That’s not defending a player and this is just incredulous in my opinion.”

The last time this happened, the guy who got benched eventually was reinserted after his replacement was benched. Given what the Texans gave up to get Watson, it may be hard to bench him. Does Schwartz think Savage eventually will be un-benched?

“Well let’s put it this way, getting benched after 31 plays is incredulous to me so at this point in time nothing would surprise me,” Schwartz said. “So I don’t have a response because I’m shocked that he got benched after 31 plays.”

The Texans have yet to respond to what Schwartz had to say. Eventually, they surely will. For now, they have a game on Thursday night to worry about. After it ends, O’Brien, Watson, Savage, and others surely will be saying something. And how the game in Cincinnati goes will surely influence what those folks have to say.

67 responses to “Savage’s agent sounds off on benching

  1. Hate to break it to the agent, but the likely answer is pretty simple: Houston’s OL stunk, and Watson is better equipped to handle terrible blocking than Savage is. So it isn’t that Savage individually played poorly, but rather that no amount of good play by Savage would work with the blocking like this. That means Watson makes Houston better than with Savage, and that isn’t Savage’s “fault” per se. Sorry, not sorry.

  2. Sounds like a coaches decision, and Bill is the coach. Not necessarily a good Coach, especially when it comes to QB’s, but a coach nonetheless. Agents aren’t supposed to open their mouths to anyone other than their clients and the owners negotiator.

  3. I think his agent’s goal was to clearly articulate that Tom’s benching was not due to Tom’s play, but rather to factors beyond his control (drops, poor blocking, etc). This is likely an attempt to preserve his client’s value in the free agency market or in any contract extension negotiations with Houston (which seem a bit unlikely at this point). His agent is trying to minimize the financial damage done to his client by the coach’s decision, which is his duty as an agent.

  4. After only 31 plays? This sounds a lot like the people who demand, give a certain president a chance, as US/international institutions are dismantled – minute by minute.

    Watson may fail, but O’Brien’s career is attached to him. Commonsense says, he’s attaching his future to Watson over Savage. It’s a business-based decision.

  5. Not a Houston fan but I think they might just go on a tear this season. Watson gives them the chance to catch teams off-guard. The team is so close to being a playoffs beast and pushing to get in the big game. Coach gave Savage a chance to be the guy, to make it impossible to bench him. He didn’t impress so it’s time to go with the future of the franchise and let it rip.

  6. I’m sure that an agent criticizing the coach will help.

    Much like a wife or girlfriend criticizing a coach or owner has helped before.

  7. Now playing the role of disgruntled benched Texans QB…Tom Savage! Brock Osweiler, Bryan Hoyer, Ryan Mallet, Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick, please show Tom how it’s done.

  8. While Watson may be better prepared to avoid the pass rush putting a rookie QB behind a porous line has a way of seriously stunting development. Houston ought to know after David Carr.

  9. Bill O’Brien has done this before. Does Schwartz know anything about the team, or coach his client plays for? He quite literally did the same thing with Ryan Mallett two years ago.

  10. Bill O’Brien coached Tim Brady for what, 1-2 years and all of a sudden he is God’s gift to the coaching world? And Rick Smith? In 47 years and 12,000 draft picks he has hit on jj watt. How these 2 keep conning Bob Mcnair into keeping them around is the mystery everyone needs to try solving. Or did he lose a bet amongst owners to become this generations biggest losers…the Houston Browns

  11. Ultimately the decision is up to the coach, and the coach always has ‘his guy’ and if you’re not that person, then you’re going to be setup to fail. Happens all the way down to high school – we see it every time an organization changes coaching staff, many key players get displaced as the new staff bring in their own.

    Just like Enterprise Corporate America, just maybe worse 😉

  12. Tom lost his job because several players around him we’re incapable of doing theirs. He’ll get a chance somewhere else next season.

  13. It is obvious to me that Tom did not take the highroad. People don’t even know what the highroad is anymore!

  14. O’Brien was freaking out because his team was supposed to be blowing out the Jags in week one at home after all the hype about the whole hurricane deal. The fact is all the guys who come off the Belichick coaching tree are failures as HC’s.

  15. The culture of the NFL is one of desperation. And that is part of what is going on. When they moved up to get Watson, they made their choice at that point. The only reason Savage was named starter was because Watson was a rookie and they did not want to name him starter day one as Savage had played decently for them last year. But, they don’t believe he is the answer, hence-they trade up to get Watson.

    O’Brian like most NFL coaches get weary of the “franchise QB questions” so they make decisions as fast as possible to emotionally put that decision behind them. I have noticed that if a team does not have a named “franchise guy” the media will not let them rest.

    Actually, Savage is lucky he even was named starter for the season. O’Brian wanted to name Watson the day one starter to get going on their run. But, caution said why throw him to the wolves if you have a guy who has already played for you who you like-not love.

    They want to be in the position of a Tampa Bay, have your guy and just keep moving and getting better.

    That’s all that is going on there. The Texans feel they are ready to win now.

  16. O’Brien still thinks he’s a QB guru and good OC because he shouted at Brady a lot. But Brady was there for 7yrs and 3 SB rings before O’Brien arrived – and Brady’s next 2 rings came after O’Brien left. O’Brien needs to step back from QBs – and from offenses. Georgia Tech were tied-1st in conf. the year he became RB coach in 1998, but the higher he got they gradually got worse (to 5th when he was OC/assistHC). As OC at Duke 2005-2006 they dropped to 1-10 and 0-12 and couldn’t get any worse. And as HC at Penn 2012-2013 they slid to 7-5 from having been 9-4 in 2011 before he joined. And the only reason Texans have been 9-7 each year since O’Brien joined is because of Romeo Crennel’s defenses, and JJ Watt.

  17. dasboat says:
    September 14, 2017 at 8:24 am
    All I can say is: I wish the Bucs were in the AFC South instead of the NFC South.

    Over the last several years they would have fit right in.

  18. Indybear says:
    September 14, 2017 at 7:53 am
    The coach is the problem, not the QB.

    27 3 Rate This


    yes, tom savage is a slam dunk prospect and clear starter

  19. “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..He went seven for 13. 12 of those 13 balls, Mike, touched the receivers 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 receivers hands. Seven were completions, five were drops.”

    I haven’t seen a single snap from that game, and have absolutely no opinion about Tom Savage in general or Tom Savage in this game in particular. But…

    Throwing the ball to where a receiver can touch it is not really the top criteria for a QB. The QB is the decision maker on the field and that’s his job. If he makes a phenomenal, amazing athletic play and squeezes a bullet in between three defenders for a 9-yard gain on 3rd and 10, while missing a wide-open receiver at 12 yards, that’s a bad job by the QB, regardless of the quality of the throw. If he misreads the defensive front and ends up with no time because he set the wrong protection or called the wrong audible, that doesn’t show up in a review of passes thrown. If the receivers have to make acrobatic re-adjustments to touch balls that are thrown high, or low, or late, or behind, they may get their hands on them, but that’s not a good job by the QB.

    Basically, the agent’s case is that “hey, most of the balls he threw were touched by receivers.” That’s not a particularly compelling defense.

  20. This article was wayyyy too long for what was said/repeated 4 times. Can’t blame the guy for being pissed about that benching tho

  21. Yeah after three seasons in a row it must be the quarterbacks. Because it can’t be the system, play calling, and coaching – right??!

  22. Ross Tucker keeps saying that if you bench your starter halfway through the first game, then whatever process you have for evaluating quarterbacks must be seriously flawed. O’Brien is a little too quick to blame the failings of his offense on his QB. If he is looking for Tom Brady, he is one in a million and he’s probably not going to find that guy. He needs to figure out how to win games with a mere mortal at QB.

  23. Well when you play worse than what is commonly known as a pile of *&#@, you wont play in this league very long.

  24. Savage has to realize that Watson is going to get his chance. He’s supposed to be their next franchise QB. It could be the best thing to happen to Savagr if Watson struggles. If Watson plays well then it was just inevitable and Savage really didn’t have a chance anyway.

  25. Look what these agents have to do to get their money. Good for the agent for fighting for his guy, shame on Savage for making him do it.

    Neil Schwartz, never heard of him before, but I can only think of like four NFL agents anyways. I imagine this dude will have some players seek him out to become clients because that is definitely putting in some work, going on a national stage and being willing to say all that.

  26. streetyson says:
    September 14, 2017 at 8:57 am
    And as HC at Penn 2012-2013 they slid to 7-5 from having been 9-4 in 2011 before he joined.

    A little something preceded O’Brien’s arrival at Penn State before he got there. Does the name Sandusky ring a bell? What O’Brien accomplished under the resulting sanctions was outstanding.

  27. Hitting the receiver’s hands with turnstile blocking every play is pretty darn good. The receivers on this team never bear any responsibility for some reason. People dog Brock all day long, never mind Fuller flat-out dropping a 50 yard TD in the playoffs against the Pats. It’s ok Will, all is forgotten. Just a right on the money 50 yarder. Brock’s fault of course. There were a couple of bad drops in this game also, which were Tom’s fault.

    I got no problem with Watson but when it comes to QBs, O’Brien is clueless. He even admitted that Brady was hard to coach due to his complete preparation. C’mon dude, coaches must always be more prepared than the players. You have nothing physical to worry about, so show up mentally ready for once and have some patience.

  28. Savage clearly has the physical tools. The game won’t slow down for him, though, if he’s never allowed to play it for long stretches of time.

    As for the pressing need to play a high draft pick, there’s no logical reason to think that in today’s NFL. Draft picks are relatively cheap, even the high ones.

  29. Dude, it’s Bill O’Brien and the Texans you’re dealing with. Don’t over-think it. These guys make a living out of making the wrong decision. You’re better off taking your client elsewhere. But seriously, why would you be surprised at this, when they drafted Watson in the first round? If 12 out of 13 passes reached their target, O’Brien might have felt like he better make the switch in a hurry. After all, the majority of us never watch the tape. We just look at stats and act like we know something. We’re easily manipulated and these teams know that. That’s part of the reason New England has won five super bowls. They’re good, yeah, but most other teams are just lost.

  30. I can see why he’s doing this. He needed to rehabilitate his client’s rep after such a short stint. Otherwise it looks like he washed out in a half of football.

  31. What was not fair was naming Savage the starter in the first place. He is simply not mobile enough or elusive enough to play behind that line. That is not a knock on Savage…He is a pocket passer who is accurate, but immobile. He has to have a better than average line, especially considering that his release time is not great.

    When Romo took over for Bledsoe the Cowboys line looked like the worst in the NFL. Mobile QB takes over and the line was suddenly decent. Same situation.

  32. commentawaitingdeletion says:
    September 14, 2017 at 10:04 am

    streetyson says:
    September 14, 2017 at 8:57 am
    And as HC at Penn 2012-2013 they slid to 7-5 from having been 9-4 in 2011 before he joined.
    A little something preceded O’Brien’s arrival at Penn State before he got there. Does the name Sandusky ring a bell? What O’Brien accomplished under the resulting sanctions was outstanding.
    @commentawaitingdeletion: you’d be forgiven for thinking so when taking that one case in isolation, but that’s why I listed all those other examples, in which a clear pattern of things getting worse emerges.

  33. Agent, you’ve done your client no favors at all. This is the the kind of stuff you save for contract negotiations, which occur in private. And you sure as hell don’t throw the receivers and the coaching staff under the bus in public ever. If your client didn’t like whatever explanation he was given in the game or in the post-game review, he or you need to take it up with the front office behind closed doors. Whining in public just means his next deal, if there is one, will be complicated by considerations about his character and willingness to be a team player.

    Guess what, agent? You CAN refuse to do things that injure your client’s long term best interests.

  34. jonathankrobinson424 says:
    September 14, 2017 at 8:13 am

    The agent seems like a tool. Houston wants the hot shot rookie they picked high in the draft, starting. It’s just that simple.

    Clearly it isn’t that simple, since they didn’t start him.

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