Congratulations to ourselves, fellow Houston Texans’ fans! We have not just a new head coach, but one who at least appears to be a substantial upgrade. From all reports, Coach O’Brien is a better offensive coach than Kubiak, one who is more interested in trying to out-strategize the opposition than in trying to execute a particular offense to perfection regardless of the opponent and regardless of the progress of the particular game. It also seems likely that O’Brien, like his one-time head coach Bill Belichick but unlike Gary Kubiak, will not hesitate to criticize, bench, or cut a player who does not perform properly. If all of that is correct, the Texans have completed one-half of the task of positioning the team to win again. That leaves the other half: the selection of a new starting-quarterback.
As this site has previously noted, the formula for success in today’s NFL is an excellent head coach/QB tandem. It is much harder to win by having no weak spots in the line-up but settling for mediocrity at either head coach or QB. (As the Texans have amply shown, it is virtually impossible to win with problems at both QB and head coach.) Which brings us to Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Football, and that guy from Central Florida whom Coach O’Brien probably likes – because they beat his Penn State team this year.
Yes, drafting a QB, even with the #1 pick, is an art, not a science. Many have tried, but most have failed, to pick good QBs consistently. Do the names JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf ring any bells? Yes, you can find greatness in the 3rd round (Russell Wilson), and you can screw up at the top of the 1st round (Russell, Leaf, etc.). And yes, there might be no QB in the entire 2014 draft who merits selection at #1 – there might be no one who is as good at QB as, say, Jake Matthews is at left tackle. BUT, even a great left tackle or defensive end who is a solid #1 pick and proves to be a fine player, an All Pro consistently, let’s say a guy like Mario Williams (whom the Texans picked at #1 a few years ago), is never going to be as valuable as even a 2nd tier QB like, say, all those QBs who are going to the playoffs this year and are NOT named Manning, Brady, or Rogers. Like Wilson, Kaepernick, and Brees. Not to mention Dalton, or Super Bowl winners like Flacco, Roethlisberger, and the other Manning. And regardless of whether they were picked high (Andrew Luck) or low (Wilson).
The point is, the QB position is so important, today, that a smart team should draft at least one QB with either its first or second pick, EVERY SINGLE YEAR until it gets its franchise QB in place and winning big. The mission of the GM and his personnel department in every NFL team is not to get good players at every position, it is to get a great QB – regardless of cost – and then patch and fill at all the other positions to surround the coach and QB with the highest level of mediocrity that can be bought with what is left of the salary cap. Johnny Football may prove to be only 5’4” tall and 155 lb. wearing his rib pads, and his time in the 40 may be no faster than Matt Schaub’s was when Schaub was a rookie, and maybe Ndamukong Suh will kick him in the groin, step on his leg, and consume his entire left ear the first time he gets a quarterback “hurry” on him, but if Manziel is the best available QB in the draft, he is a smarter pick than his team-mate Matthews.
Forget about risking losing your best-rated QB by trading down to get multiple lower picks; forget about taking the best available player, regardless of position. Join the modern NFL: draft the top QB and stop over-thinking the process.