February 21, 2018

Positional Review: Houston Texans 2018 Outlook on the Quarterbacks

 

A review of the Houston Texans quarterbacks from 2017 and the outlook for the position group heading into the 2018 season.

 

Taylor Heinicke (9 snaps, .8% of team’s total snaps)

Forced into action due to injury, the Texans had worked Henicke out multiple times before signing him onto the practice squad. Concussion issues at the quarterback position put Henicke on the 53-man roster and that was short-lived after T.J. Yates went down. Right now, Heincike is the only quarterback on the roster, in addition to Deshaun Watson, who is under contract. It is difficult to believe that the Texans feel comfortable with Heincke as their primary backup for 2018.

2018 Status: Under Contract

Tom Savage (420 snaps, 38.4% of team’s total snaps)

There was some good with Tom Savage but not enough when the Texans needed him the most, starting with a rash of turnovers which came at the worst time for the team. Savage was pegged as the Texans starter since the start of the off-season and received the bulk of the work with the first unit heading up to week one. That quickly came to an end after the 1st half or the first game when the Deshaun Watson era opened. Savage was a victim of slow drops and a running game that became nonexistent with him as the quarterback. Teams figured out that they could not blitz Savage because he completed 69.7% of his attempts when teams blitzed him and with a clean pocket, he completed 71.8% of his passes. Pressure is what really put Savage in trouble as a passer, either when taking a hit or being moved off his spot with a hurry, Savage’s completion percentage in those situations dipped to 59.8%. In order for Savage to take the next step as a quarterback, he is going to have to operate as a passer with pressure either being able to take a hit or move to avoid pressure. He has to show he can operate without a clean pocket because the NFL does not often allow those circumstances. The offense became stagnant with Savage as the quarterback but with the way the Texans wanted to play the offense, it is clear that he is not a fit with his style of play.

Key Notes: 13 drops from his receivers which, if caught, would have made Savage’s adjusted passing completion 68.3%. He had 13 total turnovers to only 5 touchdowns and the majority of those turnovers were converted to points or were end of the game situations for the opposing teams.

2018 Status: Free Agent

Deshaun Watson (464 snaps, 42.4% of team’s total)

It is hard to believe that one player could change the complexion of an offense as much as Deshaun Watson did his rookie season for the Texans. Watson was able to keep defenses in check with his ability to run the ball and make them account for him. That was Watson’s biggest attribute for the offense, making defenses commit another player either in the run game or passing game to keep an eye on Watson. With one defender on Watson at all times, that gave opposing defense one less player for coverage, pass rush, or to commit to the box, given how he uses legs as a threat. Watson is a complete scheme buster for defenses and it showed with the yards the Texans offense racked up, making them the highest scoring offense in the NFL with 34.7 points a game while Watson was healthy. Bill O’Brien should thank Watson for unlocking his creativity as a play caller, plus for landing him an extension due to that six game window, giving team ownership a glimpse of what could be. Watson gradually got better as a quarterback and passer as the season went on but still turned the ball over at a rate which needs to cut down. The biggest draw to Watson was his big play ability and his improved deep ball throwing which ranked him the 8th best passer in the NFL at 47.5% on deep passes. Watson will also have to clean up his throws in the 10-19 yard range and improve his completion percentage which sat at 44%. Either way, the arrow is pointing up for Watson and now it is time for the Texans offensive staff to fine tune what Watson can do with the football.

Key Notes: Watson’s highest passer rating in the passing game was to Lamar Miller completing 73% of his passes on 30 attempts at 125.6 rating. 24.6% of Watson’s completions to DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller went for a touchdown, 14 total.

2018 Status: Under Contract

2018 Outlook

The Texans know they have the franchise player in Deshaun Watson in-house but after that there is a void at the backup spot. Right now, it is a long shot to think Savage will be back and for Heinicke, he has bounced around plenty in his short time in the league, so much so that there is not much comfort in him as the primary backup for 2018. The Texans have to make a decision and a smart one would seem to find a quarterback similar to Watson who can throw efficiently and who has mobility to continue the run, pass, and option games that the Texans used with Watson. The Texans have to find a way to not change their complete makeup of their offense if Watson were to go down. To build a championship roster, the Texans need to address the back up quarterback situation, which is just as important as other positions getting more publicity due to team needs.

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