- Tania Ganguli, ESPN Houston Texans reporter
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As we discussed ad nauseam during NFL draft season, this wasn't a good year for a team to need a quarterback. That part of the draft process depends a lot on luck. The NFL's talent pool is completely at the mercy of what comes out of colleges.
Given that, did the Houston Texans make the best of things at that position?
Mike Tanier of SportsonEarth.com tabbed the Texans among the five worst quarterback situations in the league right now. But he thinks they did the best they could. From his piece:
The Texans faced a third dilemma: They held the No. 1 pick, but there was no clear No. 1 quarterback, just several guys with "boom or bust" stamped on their forehead. And while Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles can both be developed quickly using the preferred 2010s method -- relying heavily on an option package while they learn other skills -- second-tier prospects like Tom Savage, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, AJ McCarron and even Teddy Bridgewater do not run well enough to justify a steady diet of keepers. All need a veteran to guide them through at least the first few games of their careers.
Veteran mentors just aren't what they used to be, which explains the McCown Sweepstakes, the Jaguars' hoarding of Chad Henne and the Eagles and Jets contentedly swapping sins of the past. Many of the custodian types on this year's market were, frankly, more likely to make a mess than clean one up.
Ryan Fitzpatrick may have been the best of the bunch, Josh McCown included, but that's not saying much. Yes, Fitzpatrick went to Harvard and looks like your neighborhood microbrewer with a degree in medieval studies. Yes, he runs well and makes lots of fun-to-watch plays by scrambling around and flicking the ball into tight spots like a point guard. But Fitzpatrick thinks he's a swashbuckler, even though his cannon range doesn't extend past about 20 yards. The best a team gets with him these days is last year's overtime loss by the Titans to the Cardinals, a game Fitzpatrick essentially lost, won, then lost again. For every miracle no-look-pass touchdown to Chris Johnson sneaking up the sideline, you get a pick-six, a bomb overthrown by five yards and a handful of three-yard passes on third-and-seven.
Savage, meanwhile, is a pocket passer who needs a full year in the oven for his mechanics and decision making to finish baking. Bill O'Brien might not feel immediate pressure to start him, but 16 games of Fitzpatrick can lead to madness (ask Bills fans). The third option is Case Keenum, who looked worse and worse as last season progressed. If Keenum starts cleaning up for Fitzpatrick, fans may clamor for Savage, but patience may be the best course of action.
I've always been an advocate of patience when it comes to NFL quarterbacks. The clamoring to have a top-five quarterback start as soon as possible doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If he's not ready yet, why not wait until he gets ready? It's worth starting someone with a lower ceiling because you won't win with an unprepared quarterback, anyway.
Fitzpatrick, who turns 32 in November, wanted a chance to be "the guy" again and he's getting the chance as the Texans' starter. While it's unusual for a quarterback to resolve his flaws in his 30s, it's not unheard of. So that's possible. But even without that, Fitzpatrick's best contribution to the Texans might be that mentorship role.
As we discussed ad nauseam during NFL draft season, this wasn't a good year for a team to need a quarterback. That part of the draft process depends a lot on luck.