Texans should have made Deshaun Watson the starter from the get-go

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When the Texans gave up two first-round picks to get quarterback Deshaun Watson, it was clear that he’d be the quarterback of the future. What isn’t clear is why he wasn’t immediately installed as the quarterback of the present.

From the moment the Texans picked him, Watson took a back seat to Tom Savage, who supposedly had earned the job by paying his dues or via whatever other high-school-style mentality was permeating the thought process that put Watson on the bench. Some teams, for example, don’t want to create the impression that the young quarterback has been handed anything without proving himself worthy. As if the two first-round draft picks surrendered to get him don’t already prove his worth.

The Texans should have simply made Watson the starter from the get-go. Although, as agent Neil Schwartz argued on PFT Live, Savage didn’t do enough to justify a first-half-of-first-game benching, Watson showed more potential and ability against the Jaguars, with quicker throws, far greater mobility vertically and horizontally, and the added dimension of the zone-read run, the zone-read-with-play-action, and the periodic rollout pass.

Regardless of how well Watson does (or doesn’t) in his debut as a starter on Thursday night, he should have made his debut on Sunday. He should have been the guy the Texans built the offense around. Savage never should have been benched, because he never should have been the starter.

Again, Savage wasn’t horrible. But Watson looked better. Better enough that it’s confusing that Watson wasn’t already the guy from the moment the team made him the guy by further mortgaging their future in an effort to find the first true franchise quarterback in franchise history.

No matter why or how it’s gotten to the point that Watson is the starter absent the kind of preparation he should have gotten, the Texans need to stick with him and support him, the way they didn’t support Savage. With two first-round picks invested in getting Watson — and a second-round pick coughed up to rectify one of the worst free-agency signings in league history — the Texans keep swinging for the franchise-quarterback fences, and whacking themselves in the face with the bat.

34 responses to “Texans should have made Deshaun Watson the starter from the get-go

  1. Yeah but…they’re the Texans. They need a new GM and coach badly. These things and that agent sounding off are not good looks across the league. No free agents will want to go there.

  2. a theory would be that o’brien wouldnt be able to sell a rookie qb to the defense, thus losing the team in the offseason/ training camp. watching watson play against alabama alone would’ve told you he could start and compete in the nfl

  3. hard to say who puts them in a better position to win right now. easy to say that bill o’brien does not have a handle on this football team

  4. Coach will be let go if the Texans don’t make the playoffs. The solid Tennessee Titans will most likely win the division. If the Texans keep playing like they did last Sunday, I’d go as far to say they’ll be competing with Indy for 3rd in the division.

  5. I actually disagree, let Savage take these beatings. You gave CLE two picks for a future QB you’re gonna trot out tonight behind that O Line? After you refuse to pay Duane Brown? Cincinnati may kill Watson tonight. What Houston is doing to this kid is criminally irresponsible and it should cost both O’ Brien and Rick Smith their jobs.

  6. The whole idea of a bridge qb just needs to die. If he is not your long term solution, you are just wasting time. You essential only have 3 years to see if he’s the guy, since you have to pick up the fifth year option then. So why waste their service time not playing, and by the time he gets going, he won’t be your property anymore.
    A team that’s had stability at coach and gm should not be shuffling through quarterbacks like this.

  7. artliedtocleveland says:
    September 14, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    So you’re saying that Watson should just be handed the job even if Savage was better in practice?

    That’s exactly what he is saying. You don’t have Watson holding a clipboard behind some no name qb like Savage.

  8. streetscoop says:
    September 14, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I don’t know, maybe it took the rookie this long to show he was ready? I think you’re reaching on this one, Mike.

    What was he doing for the first half of the game to prove himself?

  9. Everyone knows Savage became a placeholder, the minute Watson was drafted and that he would have to be way more productive now, to keep the job. DeShaun has demonstrated his worth in just two games against NFL talent. Each time he BLASTED the vaunted Alabama defense, throwing for 8 TDs, amassing 1000 combined yards and a national championship.

    He has to play. Savage should just stay ready and FIRE his dumb agent immediately.

  10. I’ve always thought it was nonsense to not start a rookie QB if you already know the dudes on your team are not long term answers.

    How often does someone sit on the bench for years and then become some amazing QB? Rarely. This only works if you’re drafting your future QB with an established franchise guy on your roster, ala the Giants starting Kurt Warner while Eli chilled, or Rodgers waiting in the wings behind a HOF qb like Farve.

    This idea that you’ll somehow “ruin” a young QB by putting him in before he’s ready is nonsense. Perhaps you’ll lose a couple more games in a pointless season while they go through growing pains. So what? If you’re picking between a rookie and a guy who hasn’t claimed the starting job unquestionably after a couple seasons on the roster, I have news for you – you’re not winning the Superbowl anyways. And if some failure is going to “ruin” a young QB, they weren’t gonna make it anyways.

    If you draft a guy you think is your answer, put him in the game day 1.

  11. You trade that many draft picks for a guy then You’re pretty much married to him. This isn’t the KC situation in which the starter is a solid QB who lead the team to the playoffs. This is Tom Savage career backup.

  12. Without 3 gift wrapped first downs from the referees.. he doesn’t have that TD on his stat sheet. All I saw was a guy that looked at Hopkins, then ran if he was covered.. or forced it. The runs were nice and all but.. he didn’t exactly pass the eye test. He’s still extremely raw and not ready to start. Savage went through his progressions, and worked within the offense.. but they couldn’t protect him. He’s essentially being scapegoated for the offensive line’s failure.

  13. It appears from my house Bill O’Brien is going down the same road as Chuck Pagano. They may have had great potential as Head Coaches but they both have been less than successful. Management always hates to admit they made a mistake but it’s time for a change. I’ll be surprised if either one is still a head coach next season. They both had successful careers as assistant coaches in colleges and O’Brien was Head Coach at Penn State for one year. They both had successful assistant coaching positions, O’Brien at New England and Pagano at Cleveland, Oakland and Baltimore. As Winston Churchill said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

  14. Hey, let’s remember that the Jaguars had a 19-point lead when Watson came into the game. A quarterback against which they had done no film study or game-planning. He looked good for one drive, then became progressively more and more ineffective even as the Jaguars built up a bigger and bigger lead, causing them to play softer and softer. I’m afraid he’s gonna get crushed on Thursday as well as the rest of the season and end up turning into David Carr Part 2.

  15. I’m sorry. You just don’t bench a guy after one half of football. They probably should have started Watson from the get-go, but they didn’t. Going to the rookie is a sign that you’ve given up on the season. You lose the locker-room at that point. At best, you look impetuous and over-reactive. The crazy thing is this is not the first time O’Brien has done this, but this specific situation reminds me exactly of when the Browns benched Ty Detmer for Tim Couch after one game back in ’99.

  16. In David Carr’s first year with the Texans, he was sacked an NFL record 76 times, how many sacks did the Texans give up last weekend “10” WOW! It’s coaching not the Quarterback, if the coach/OC can’t scheme plays to slow down the rush of the defense then trotting another QB out there won’t help much but then again it’s Bill O’Brien so when has logic really mattered!

  17. So if Watson had the been the starter at the “get-go” and would have struggled, you would have written just the opposite saying that Savage (the veteran) should have been the starter at the get-go…..

  18. flexx91 says:
    September 14, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    So if Watson had the been the starter at the “get-go” and would have struggled, you would have written just the opposite saying that Savage (the veteran) should have been the starter at the get-go…..

    Only if O’Brien had pulled him at halftime.

  19. I don’t think the kid is an NFL QB. I wouldn’t have signed him as a free agent, let alone draft him. I wish him all the luck in the world. I hope he makes it. Just because a guy plays on a winning college team and gets drafted in the first round, doesn’t mean he’s going to be a good NFL QB. I didn’t see him do anything at Clemson that would make me think he’ll be a good pro. I heard a lot of good stuff, but I didn’t see it. I guess I’m from Missouri. The Show Me State.

  20. You know, I think Bill O’Brien is waaaaaaay overrated as a coach. He doesn’t seem to have any idea about what to do with a quarterback. (And yes, I know the Texans–narrowly–won their division last year, but that was because their defense played lights out.) I’d like to root for Houston, but I just don’t think much of O’Brien. Stevie Wonder could’ve seen that DeShaun Watson needed to be the starter for that team right from the beginning.

  21. So glad the Chiefs didn’t draft this guy. We already have one just like him, and he’s leaving next year.

  22. This whole deal has more to do with Bill O’Brien than either QB.
    O’Brien thinks every QB should be Tom Brady from the outset and when they aren’t he likes to give them the quick hook.

  23. Texans’ #1 problem on O is that line, period.

    If/when they get that fixed, then the QB should be whoever gives them the best chance to make a deep playoff run THIS year. Not some indefinite future.
    Watt & Co. aren’t getting any younger, don’t waste them starting a rookie if he’s not ready and the other guy is.

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