Analyzing the Texans’ quarterback candidates to replace Brock Osweiler

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Odds are that Tom Savage will be the Houston Texans starter for week one.  But Deshaun Watson does have a small chance.

As the Houston Texans move on from the costly impeachment process of quarterback Brock Osweiler following his disappointing performance as their Commander In Chief, they are now faced with the important, yet familiar challenge of appointing a new successor as their leader.

On one side, there’s the incumbent Vice President Tom Savage. The former 2014 fourth-round draft pick is a three-year veteran back-up quarterback from the University of Pittsburgh. To date, he has only two starting performances under his belt as a professional athlete.

Tom Savage
Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via USA TODAY Sports /

Savage, the former Governor of Pennsylvania (for debate sake) is the candidate that is most familiar with the Texans’ and their current programs, practices, playbooks, strategies, roster, coaches, and of course, their ridiculously high expectations associated with the quarterback position.

The pressure from similar expectations last season inevitably played a significant role in Osweiler having just one attempt at getting the job done as their starting quarterback.

Needless to say, the vital team knowledge gained from experience as a back-up makes Savage the most “ready now” candidate to fill the vacancy as commander of the Texans on opening day.

According to a bio on Savage, in only a single season of eligibility:

"‘his 2,958 passing yards rank fifth on Pitt’s single-season list…produced one of the finest single-game passing efforts in school history in Pitt’s 58-55 win at Duke…completed nearly 70% of his passes (23 of 33) for 424 yards and tied an ACC record with six touchdown passes…his yardage total was the most by a Pitt quarterback since 1997 and ranked fourth in school history…garnered numerous honors for his Duke performance, including Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week and ACC Offensive Back of the Week…his second highest yardage output was a 313-yard effort on 23-of-38 passing (60%) with two TDs vs. North Carolina…threw only three INTs over his final nine contests of the season…elected a senior team captain…All-ACC Academic Team selection’."

Then on the other side, there’s the insanely popular, 2017 first-round draft pick Deshaun Watson.

Watson, The Governor of Georgia brings with him an impeccable track record of success to go with his countless individual accomplishments achieved while competing on the highest level in college.

Watson also possesses a rare and seemingly unteachable trait that somehow morphs the 21-year-old kid into a seasoned-veteran-type of a quarterback with a calm and poised demeanor. His accurate and often surgically precise pregame and game time preparations proved beneficial amidst the crucial in-game situations often thrown at the resilient quarterback last season.

The rare aforementioned trait puts him in the company of an elite class of legendary college quarterbacks that could have also weathered those storms successfully.

deshaun watson
Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) and linebacker Ben Boulware (10) celebrate after beating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Watson appears self-driven, self-motivated, and self-influenced as he successfully commanded his high school and college teams to multiple championships as their starting quarterback.

Watson’s lifetime win-loss record since starting as a freshman in high school is a mind-boggling 89-9.

Watson has also developed a great reputation for being a big-stage performer that thrives under the brightest lights. That remarkable characteristic has resulted in several huge victories over top-ranked programs in the college football.  i.e. Alabama, Ohio State, and Florida State.

Watson was also responsible for leading his offense to a game-winning touchdown in the National College Football Championship game.

He carried his team to a drought-ending National Championship title during the last 1:50 of regulation. Not only was this big drive successful, it was masterfully orchestrated against legendary Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his top-ranked defense loaded with a roster of top NFL prospects.

Academically, the two-time Heisman finalist fast-tracked his way through college earning his degree after only three years at Clemson. Watson will eventually make his way to Houston as one of the most successful, talented, and highly decorated college football players in NCAA history.

NRG stadium texans
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Now as both candidates campaign tirelessly through the offseason, we’ll take this opportunity to give our readers a close and in-depth look at the statistical side of each candidate to decide the best man for the job in Houston.

By now you should see where I’m going with this one?  Ok, let’s have some fun.

As a solid foundation for debate, we’ll use the physical attributes and measurements associated with each candidate before being drafted, see chart 

Pick # 12   DeShaun Watson:   6’2″ 221 lbs.    40-yard dash time: 4.66 s   20-yard shuttle:  4.31 s

3 cone drill:  6.95 s    Vertical jump:  32.5 in    Broad jump:  9’11”      Wonderlic Test: 20

Pick #135  Tom Savage:            6’4″ 228  lbs.   40-yard dash time: 4.97 s   20-yard shuttle: 4.36 s

3 cone drill: 7.33 s     Vertical Jump: 27 in          Broad jump:  8’9″       Wonderlic Test: 29

deshaun watson
Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

As we look at Governor Watson, we noticed that his athleticism was much better than the incumbent. What we can take from this is that Watson has the quickness to elude tackles and the potential to pose a threat in short yardage situations.

Along with Watson’s quickness, wide receivers will have extra time to separate from defenders allowing for big plays to develop down the field. His mobility also allows the offense to run successfully without having a great offensive line. Elusive quarterbacks can scramble away from missed blocking assignments and holes to decrease the affect of negative plays.

Watson’s slightly smaller size and physique in comparison to Savage shouldn’t cause too many problems when it comes to him being able to see down the field or hinder him from recognizing defensive sets.

However, Watson’s limited time under center during his three years as a starter at Clemson makes all theories of his possible performance under center completely speculative.

Tom Savage
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

As we transition to Vice President  Savage, we notice that he has the prototypical body-type and the throwing mechanics for success at this position. His 20-yard shuffle time suggests quickness and the possibility to break tackles (if necessary).

What we can take from this is that Savage is a pocket passer that requires a decent offensive line to be successful.

A weak offensive line typically means that tight ends and running backs will draw blocking assignments instead of running routes against the slower linebackers for easy completions. This counter-strategy also takes away eligible check-down receiving options for a quarterback with covered receivers. This process would limit the overall range of both the play-calling formations and play-calling options available for the head coach and offensive coordinator.

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Impressively, Savage’s Wonderlic Test score suggest that he has a fair advantage over Watson with the awareness and the ability to problem solve efficiently. Making up for his lack of physical athleticism.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Texans’ offensive line was ranked 11th in the NFL last season.

PFF also noted that Jeff Allen was the only guard in the NFL to have more than 100 snaps without a quarterback sack or hurry.

t’s also important to note that–second round draft pick in 2016–Nick Martin is expected to make his NFL debut at the center position this coming season. He underwent surgery on his foot after a training camp injury the last summer.

Along with getting Martin back, the Texans’ offensive line could be in line for a breakout performance from one of the rookies or free agents acquired this offseason.

                                                                     THE RESULTS ARE IN

deshaun watson
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

My pre-draft statistical advantage for Commander-In-Chief of the Houston Texans goes to Georgia Governor Deshaun Watson.

My deciding theory derived from the offensive line that will consist of mostly rookies and veteran players recovering from injuries.

However, by comparison Watson will be less affected by the expected rookie mistakes and the possible decline in performance from post injured players.

Under head coach Bill O’Brien, the previous Texans’ starting quarterbacks consisted almost entirely of pocket passers that would continuously fall victim to the holes in the oft-injured and vulnerable offensive line.

Watson should have more success than Savage at commanding the troops from behind the offensive line competing for the Texans this season.

deshaun watson
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

As an avid Texans fan, I’m extremely hopeful of Watson winning the starting job early on in training camp. The primary reason for urgency is the clear and obvious contrast in playing styles between him and Savage.

I am also a firm believer that Watson receiving early reps with the offensive starters along with a few minor adjustments to the playbook designs (specifically catering to Watson’s strengths) would eventually prove beneficial to the Texans’ preparations for their regular season opener.

That week one opponent will be one of the Texans’ AFC South divisional rivals.

The increasingly talented Jacksonville Jaguars, featuring the former Texans’ defensive back A.J. Bouye, 2017 first round draft pick Leonard Fournette, and quite possibly the career finale & farewell tour of quarterback Blake Bortles at NRG Stadium on Sunday, September 10th.