Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Fitzpatrick gets the chance to do enough
By Tania Ganguli
Ever since the Houston Texans signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, my presumption was that he would be the team's starter.
Officially, coach Bill O'Brien kept the quarterback competition open until this week. But to be the starter was the Texans' reason for signing Fitzpatrick the day before trading away Matt Schaub. They weren't enamored enough with any of the quarterbacks in the draft to expect a Day 1 starter.
Now it's official. The Texans have a starting quarterback, and he's coming in quietly, unassumingly and with something to prove.
"Personally for me, this is kind of where I wanted to be," Fitzpatrick said. "I wanted another shot at it. I wanted another chance to be the guy."
His chance comes with less drama and smaller expectations than the last two times the Texans declared a starter during camp. David Carr was the first overall pick, expected to guide a new franchise for a decade or more. Schaub was acquired in a trade, a steal some thought, to be the next guy expected to guide a then-adolescent franchise.
Those kind of lofty expectations aren't attached to Fitzpatrick, and they shouldn't be.
Over the past six seasons, he has started at least eight games each year and never had a winning record. In the right system, a quarterback's limitations can be managed -- Fitzpatrick's most glaring one is his penchant for throwing interceptions. It's a problem that came with forcing throws his arm couldn't make.
He has been on some bad teams and hasn't always had the help he's needed. Some think this could be Fitzpatrick's best year given the way O'Brien runs his offense.
Finding a great quarterback is hard. There are only four teams in the league with unquestionably great quarterbacks -- Green Bay, New Orleans, New England and Denver. There are tiers beneath Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
The Texans aren't expecting greatness from Fitzpatrick. But they are giving him a chance to do enough of what they need.