For as much time as Houston Texan fans have had to spend watching semi-infuriating quarterback competitions during the Bill O'Brien Era, the 2017 preseason is probably the one time that those fans would have welcomed a true competition. With Tom Savage and his two career starts named the incumbent by O'Brien, and with future franchise QB Deshaun Watson waiting in the wings, most fans would rather just cut to the chase and start the Watson era now.
During training camp and the preseason, Savage has been fine. Nothing spectacular, just fine. Meanwhile, Watson has been inconsistent with flashes of spectacular. In preseason games, Savage has had a high completion percentage on largely dink and dunk type stuff, while Watson has made a few "WOW" plays each game, including two rushing touchdowns that made him look like an alien compared to Texans quarterbacks of years gone by.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and while Watson has his legion of supporters, O'Brien made it clear after a sweltering hot practice on Tuesday who the starter is for this football team. "Tom’s the starter," claimed O'Brien. "Tom’s playing well this camp. Tom has really had a good camp. He’s only thrown three incompletions in two games. He’s really got good command of our offense.”
While a large part of Houston let out a loud cry, realizing come September they'd have to wait for underperformance from or injury to Savage to see their guy, O'Brien was quick to praise the rookie signal caller, even going so far as to basically acknowledge the obvious — he is the future “I’ve said, Deshaun is a very, very good, young player who has a great future in this league," O'Brien said. "I mean, let’s put the cards on the table. That’s what it is.”
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In the end, the upside of Watson isn't tantalizing enough for O'Brien to stray from Savage's experience in the system, especially with a defense good enough to allow the offense to just NOT LOSE games. “Tom has been here for four years," O'Brien pointed out. "The way that we want to play, the style that we need to play relative to getting guys lined up, relative to cadence, relative to protection points and route reads and putting guys in the right spot, Tom’s ahead of Deshaun on that.”
So barring a medical issue or just a complete collapse in this Saturday's game in New Orleans, it will be Savage leading this team onto the field on September 10. The early schedule will be tough sledding for a guy with two career starts — home for the Jaguars (not a bad defense), a Thursday night game in Cincinnati (against whom Savage generated 12 points last season AT HOME), and a Sunday in New England.
The bottom line? Watson better stay warmed up and ready, as there's a good chance his services will be required at some point before October.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.