- Tania Ganguli, ESPN Staff Writer
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On Wednesday, three days after the trade officially happened, I finally got a chance to talk with the relevant parties from the Houston Texans: head coach Bill O'Brien, quarterbacks coach George Godsey and general manager Rick Smith.
A look at what they had to say about the Texans' new No. 2 quarterback.
RICK SMITH, Texans general manager
History with Mallett: Studied him during the 2011 draft, but never met with him
He says: "He was a talent (coming out of college). There have been a lot of people, if you talk to the folks, that had him as a potential first-round talent. We did our due diligence as well. I thought that New England did a smart thing where they took him. He’s developed in that system over time. He hasn’t had a chance to play, of course, but the fact that he’s been in the NFL for this long, he’s seen game plans, he understands how to prepare each week. So that, he’s got that kind of experience. He’s here, he’s learning, he’s got his head down, he’s working hard and that’s what we ask of him. ... We started talking on Sunday, the day we made the trade. We hadn’t had any conversations prior to that. We started talking on Sunday and we made the trade.... I know there were a lot of rumors about (conversations during the draft), but we didn’t."
For context: The Texans did take a quarterback in the 2011 draft -- T.J. Yates taken in the fifth round. Mallett fell to the third round despite being considered by some to have first-round talent because of character concerns. New England didn't have problems with him throughout his tenure there, which was enough for Smith to believe in him in that respect. Mallett is really connected more to other parties, though.
BILL O'BRIEN, Texans head coach
History with Mallett: Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in New England the year the Patriots drafted Mallett.
He says: "Three years older. I believe he’s a guy that’s worked hard. He understands the pro game better than he did obviously, when he was a rookie. I think he’s worked extremely hard. You can tell on things like being in the weight room, he’s worked on his accuracy and he’s definitely improved in his knowledge of our offense. That’s obvious. He’s a guy that just has to keep working, keep improving and like I said, he’s our number two quarterback and it’s good to have him here."
For context: O'Brien knows Mallett better than probably any other NFL head coach with the possible exception of Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The fact that he believed in Mallett's ability enough to want him on the roster is a big vote of confidence. It's difficult to know what Mallett will be when and if he plays in regular-season games, but that happens when a guy plays behind Tom Brady.
GEORGE GODSEY, Texans quarterbacks coach
History with Mallett: Offensive assistant with New England Mallett's rookie year
He says: "The first thing is you have to be willing to put the time in. Ryan was able to do that than, and obviously that was three years ago. It’s about putting the time in now with our system and really trying to catch up almost in a faster format because there is a little bit more you have to teach a rookie quarterback as opposed to a quarterback that maybe has been in the league a little bit. ... Anytime with any position there is familiarity, but it’s not only the personality but how you can relate what one system is apples and the other system is oranges and try to put that together into one common language. I think it makes the process a little bit easier."
For context: Mallett said Godsey taught him the Patriots' offense in New England. Coming here, has been easier for Mallett because of the aforementioned familiarity. He said he's glad he's not a rookie making this transition one week before the season opener, because it would be much harder. I relayed that to Godsey, who said that's an understatement given everything a rookie has to learn even if he doesn't switch teams in September.