Nov 16, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) talks with Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) after the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Texans at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Texans beat the Browns 23-7. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Hoyer has been named the starter and it’s clear that he is taking his role seriously so far. He looked very sharp versus New Orleans. Hoyer led scoring drives on two of his first three series and there was a sense of “calm” with him on the field. The first team offense seems to take well to his presence in the huddle.
It was a possibility that O’Brien may have considered moving on from Ryan Mallett before the injury to Tom Savage. I will say however that Savage’s injury does not obligate O’brien to keep Mallett around, and a trade scenario is still a possibility if they can find a comparable replacement.
It is not a stretch to see a situation where O’Brien gambles with a short-term “plug” guy, who is a veteran quarterback on a 1 year deal knowing that the plan is to return a healthy Savage next season as the backup.
If Mallett is going to continue to stay on coach O’brien’s mind as a replacement if Hoyer begins to struggle, he will have to make an impression in this film room, practice and most importantly publicly (behavior matters more than anything else).
Mallett has to find a way to show some maturity in how he conducts himself both on and off the field. He absolutely did not take this demotion well and that has to still be on O’brien’s mind. This quarterback battle is settled (for now), but as coach referred to in his team meeting, the players are competing against everyone in the league.
Mallett to his credit did perform well against the Saints and led the team to on a lengthy methodical drive that ended with a red zone touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong.
As for Tom Savage, the final preseason game versus the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion left an impression on O’brien’s mind that he has developed into more than a “project quarterback”. Savage made mistakes and bounced back. His injury was untimely and unfortunate but I think that he did well with his opportunity to show that he has grown in this system and can be relied upon if needed.
Savage looked very comfortable (although mostly against guys who like myself are not good enough to make a NFL roster). What impresses me the most about Savage is that you can clearly see the attention to detail that he has and his fundamentals have significantly improved.
Savage worked hard in the offseason on his mechanics and the way that he delivers the football has greatly improved. There were concerns about the release point of his passes but it appears that he has fixed that issue.
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