If Texans Coach Bill O’Brien Crashes And Burns, It Will Be Because Of Brian Hoyer
By Randy Gurzi
The Houston Texans lured Bill O’Brien away from Penn State and hired him as their head coach before the 2014 season, and they were rewarded with seven more wins than they had the year before. After a 9-7 first year, O’Brien has followed it up with an offseason full of positive news.
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One thing O’Brien proved with the fast turnaround is that things can change quickly in the NFL. Sadly however, they could change just as quickly in the opposite directions as well, and for the Houston Texans, there is one thing that could send them in a free fall back to a losing record.
Currently, the thought is that quarterback Brian Hoyer is the best option for the Texans, and may start the season as the signal-caller. While the only competition for Hoyer is the unproven Ryan Mallett, the fact remains that Hoyer is simply not a good quarterback.
In an article by Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle, Solomon contends that there is nothing for Houston to be real excited about at the most important position. While he admits the belief is Hoyer is a more accurate passer than Mallett, he also shows how non-productive Hoyer really has been.
"Hoyer, who lost his backup job to Mallett in 2012 and is now with his fourth team, finished 32nd out of 33 qualified passers in completion percentage last year.Of the 51 players who have thrown at least 600 passes since Hoyer joined the league as an undrafted free agent in 2009, only five have a worse completion percentage than he does."
For his career Hoyer has completed 56.5% of his passes with 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions and owns a pedestrian quarterback rating of 76.8. His best season was last year when he completed 55.3% of his passes for 3,326 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, with a rating of 76.5.
Hoyer was the talk of the Cleveland Browns training camp in 2014 as teammates and coached raved about his intelligence and accuracy. He was seen as the hometown kid who played high school ball in Ohio that would finally turn the Browns around.
Instead, he lost his job to rookie Johnny Manziel who completed 51% of his passes for no touchdowns and two interceptions. And if Manziel didn’t get hurt, Hoyer would have finished the year on the bench watching Johnny Football perform poorly.
Now we again hear similar stories of how well he is adapting to Houston, and how great he has been in the offseason. All the same stuff we heard from Cleveland before Hoyer flamed out and was shown the door.
For the record, I have been high on all the moves made since O’Brien took the job, but if he does in fact decide to put the Ohio native in the game as the starter, it could be the one move that wrecks all the good he has done.
First off, the move to Hoyer makes no sense. In 2014 Ryan Fitzpatrick played very well for the Texans, posting a 95.3 rating and throwing 17 touchdowns to only 8 interceptions. Trading Fitz only makes sense if the team believes in the upside of Mallett and names him the starter.
If O’Brien was not sold on Mallett, they should have stayed with the status quo at the position, and here is yet another example to prove it. On November 30th against Tennessee Fitzpatrick threw six touchdown passes and 358 yards, for the year remember Hoyer had 12 touchdowns. In one game the bearded warrior threw half as many touchdowns as Hoyer threw for the entire year.
Yet because O’Brien feels he can trust Hoyer, he decided it was best to trade a guy coming off his best NFL season and replace him with a guy who has bounced around the league and failed for a franchise historically known for bad quarterback play.
Texans fans need to hope that the Hoyer hype train is all about forcing the best out of Ryan Mallett. Because if O’Brien truly feels Hoyer is a good NFL quarterback, it will be a long season. And if he sticks with Hoyer too long, it could spell disaster for a coach who is otherwise making some very smart decisions.