The Houston Texans will start rookie first-round pick Deshaun Watson in their Thursday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals. This comes after Tom Savage was benched in the team’s disastrous 29-3 season-opening loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday.
It also comes amid even more drama surrounding the Texans, specifically Savage’s agent putting the quarterback’s teammates on blast over his benching (more on that here).
After throwing their support behind Savage throughout the training camp and the preseason, head coach Bill O’Brien and Co. had a quick hook with him. In some ways it makes sense. Houston did yield next year’s first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns in order to trade up for Watson in April’s draft.
In another way, it makes absolutely no sense. Preparing for Cincinnati on a short week, the Texans are seemingly throwing Watson out there to fail. That’s magnified by the fact that Houston quarterbacks were sacked a whopping 10 times by Jacksonville in Week 1.
It’s just a continuation of what has been a disastrous quarterback situation for the reigning AFC South champs under O’Brien’s watch. As Pro Football Talk notes, this latest shuffle under center is the Texans’ 18th quarterback change in their past 54 games.
That actually trumps the Cleveland Browns’ factory of sadness.
Despite boasting what many view to be the best defense in the NFL, Houston’s struggles under center has put the team in a situation where it no longer can be considered top-end conference title contenders.
Will Watson change that starting Thursday night against an equally hapless Bengals offense? We can’t be so sure. But with just three days of practice and after seeing their quarterbacks demolished by Jacksonville in Week 1, it doesn’t look too good here. Add in the fact that Houston’s franchise left tackle is still holding out, and that’s magnified even further.
For O’Brien and general manager Rick Smith, they have put all their cards on the table. They’re going all-in with Watson after sending both of their top-two picks in next year’s draft to Cleveland in order to supposedly settle the team’s quarterback situation.
While it will start Thursday with Watson taking snaps under center, how the remainder of the season plays out will dictate whether these two have jobs heading into January. It will also dictate whether an otherwise talented Texans roster will fall short due to what has to be called quarterback purgatory for the suddenly fledgling franchise.
Now likely setting their rookie quarterback up for failure, this most definitely doesn’t bode well for O’Brien, Smith or the Texans’ future at the most important position football has to offer.
That’s the harsh reality in Houston.