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The high-priced quarterback’s ineptitude finally led to a quarterback change, with coach Bill O’Brien yanking Osweiler in favor of third-year pro Tom Savage, who led Houston to a 21-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I’m just glad I wasn’t the one that had to make that decision,” McNair said Sunday, via the Houston Chronicle. “I mean, that was a gutsy call. Give coach credit, he made a change and it was for the good of the team. We benefited from it. Now we have three good quarterbacks and we are proud of all of them.”
Tom Savage is real and so are the third-year quarterback’s chances of taking over the starting job for a team in the playoff race. Once believed to be a fictional creation of the Draft Industrial Complex, Savage took over for Osweiler in the second quarter Sunday after two early interceptions by Osweiler against the Jaguars. The Texans trailed 13-0 at the time of Osweiler’s benching and Savage eventually helped the Texans pull off a 21-20 comeback victory.
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“I think we’ve got three really talented quarterbacks here — I really do,” O’Brien said after the game. You can call B.S. on that, you can say whatever you want. I think we have a really talented quarterback room and we don’t make decisions on how much a guy gets paid. We make decisions on what’s the best way to win a game and that was the decision we made today and I thought today it worked out okay.”
And yes, the dismal offensive start the Texans are off to starts with Houston’s new passer, Brock Osweiler, and reflects very poorly on those who decided to hand him that whopping $72 million free-agent contract this spring. Osweiler is making no one in Houston forget Brian Hoyer — and that’s not a good thing — and does not appear to be the answer to the franchise’s perennial quarterback issues.
In short, Houston has a very familiar problem. Osweiler looks tentative and cheap jerseys and continues to force some passes, and his 19 of 42, 184-yard day included his seventh interception of the season, to go along with his sixth touchdown pass. His passer rating was an embarrassing 56.1, and the Texans started 0 of 11 on first downs, not converting one until midway through the second quarter, and then via penalty rather than performance.
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“He’s gotten much better,” O’Brien said. “He’s one of the more improved guys on our team. Very good run blocker, comes off the ball and strikes you. In the passing game, he really worked hard on his pass protection and has gotten better.”
There’s no disputing O’Brien’s claim. Su’a-Filo has gone from benched, injured or out of shape to a dependable asset on Houston’s offensive line. Also in O’Brien’s defense, Su’a-Filo looked like such a safer commodity coming out of the draft than Carr, though we all know what happens in life when you play it safe too often.
It’s fair to note that Osweiler has just 15 starts, but he’s been on an NFL team since 2012. After five years, the deer-in-headlights plays should be fewer and less egregious. Instead, Osweiler seems to display shakiness at least once a drive.
In Sunday’s victory over Detroit, Osweiler threw for only 186 yards, one touchdown, and his ninth interception of the season for a passer rating of 83.4. This was a Lions defense that entered the game allowing a passer rating of 117.3, on pace for the worst in NFL history, and allowed 74.2 percent of passes to be completed. It was a Lions defense missing its No. 1 cornerback, Darius Slay, and without its top defensive tackle and linebacker.
Although Savage lacks Osweiler’s mobility, he’s noticeably calmer and more compact in the pocket. Pro Football Focus tracked Osweiler with a 0.0 passer rating on four dropbacks under pressure compared to Savage’s 101.7 mark on 12 such attempts.
To be clear, no one is painting Savage as the savior. He entered the game in an ideal situation, afforded the green light to lock and load against a defense with no substantial game tape to take away his strengths and exploit his weaknesses. Osweiler paid for his two errant passes over the middle while Malik Jackson dropped Savage’s interception ball in a similar spot.