Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett sure didn’t have much time to make an impression in 2014. Two games into his starting gig, he was lost for the season to a torn pectoral muscle. A cruel end to the season for a guy who patiently waited on the bench for three years in New England before being traded to Houston.
Mallett now hits free agency and while a good showing as a starter could have earned him big praise, he must deal with the fact that he played hurt and now teams mostly have flawed tape to watch on him. The Texans may be able to take advantage of this and they should.
The former Arkansas Razorback has been a mystery since joining the NFL in 2011. Ryan was supposed to be a first rounder at one point, with many scouts intrigued by his 6’6″ frame and rocket for an arm. Yet, he fell in the draft as there were questions about maturity and how he would develop at the next level. He didn’t answer a lot of questions last year putting up 400 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Still Houston can benefit from his relationship with head coach Bill O’Brien, which does go back to their days in New England together. While Mallett may still have questions, he also has more upside than other options the team has at quarterback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a journeyman quarterback at best and the last time a team (the Buffalo Bills) thought he was the answer, they over paid and suffered for it. Houston also has 4th round pick Tom Savage, but he most likely won’t be able to take the reins just yet and be successful. Houston can always bring back (again) Case Keenum, but none of those quarterbacks have the upside of a big time talent like Mallett.
With all that being said, Mallett is a bit of a risk. While at Arkansas my big knock on Mallett was he seemed as though he didn’t care. A 4th quarter interception to cost the Hogs a game usually ended with Mallett on the sidelines looking like he just wanted to go home.
Similar knocks have been made against other quarterbacks currently in the NFL, like the Bears’ Jay Cutler and the Cowboys’ Tony Romo. While Romo seems to have found the right recipe and turned things around, Cutler has gone the opposite direction and got the head coach, the general manager and a couple hot dog vendors fired in Chicago.
I’m no math wiz, but based on those two quick case studies, it’s a 50-50 proposition at best that Mallett turns out to be a solid and reliable NFL quarterback. However knowing that the best quarterback to ever wear a Texans uniform to date is Matt Schaub, I would take that chance and offer Mallett a chance to be the unquestioned starter going in to the 2015 season.
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