Ignoring the endless complaints about the Houston Texans’ personnel-moves regarding the quarterback position, I remain steadfast in my endorsement of the Bill O’Brien strategy. That strategy (for readers who do not yet live in Texas) was to re-sign Ryan Mallett (who sparkled briefly in 2014 before being incapacitated during his second start), hire Brian Hoyer away from Cleveland, retain Tom Savage (whom they drafted last year), and dump two other guys who started for the Texans while Mallett was still in the hospital.
Speaking of hospitals, I would like to mention one aspect of the O’Brien strategy that has drawn little comment but could be seen as the essence of that strategy: Coach O’Brien, having been forced, by QB injuries, to start 4 different QBs in a single season and having noticed that only 1 of the 4 had prior experience with the complex O’Brien offense, obviously resolved that he would never, never, never repeat that experience. Because Hoyer, like Mallett, knows the whole O’Brien offense in his sleep from working previously under O’Brien at New England, and Savage now has had a full season to absorb it, the Texans can now be confident of not having to re-live 2014.
But is that the best strategy, to employ three unproven QBs because each has upside potential plus an advanced degree in O’Brienology? Consider the alternative ways of getting a franchise QB:
1) Draft the next Andrew Luck – get the #1 draft choice in exactly the year when the next Andrew Luck enters the draft – in other words, get really really lucky;
2) Draft the next Russell Wilson (3rd round of the draft) or Tom Brady (6th round) with a lower-round draft pick – in other words, get as lucky as one must be to score on option #1. (Clearly, those picks were not a matter of rational analysis, as every one of the 32 teams passed at least twice on Wilson and at least five times on Brady, even though each, in hindsight, would have been worth a #1 in the first round.)
3) Draft the next Aaron Rogers – in other words, get someone in the bottom of the first round of the draft, have him spend several years as a backup to a hall of fame starter, and have him turn out to have been drafted way too low – in other words, get as lucky as the Packers, Colts, Seahawks, and Patriots were.
4) Pick up an elite QB when he becomes a free agent – well, let’s skip that one altogether, as that is beyond good luck, it isn’t even conceivable.
OK, now that we have ruled out all of those dreamy options, how about signing up 2 guys who both are better than all the other free agents, have mastered the O’Brien offense, and have shown flashes of the ability to be at least a Trent Dilfer, Jake Delhomme, or Brad Johnson – in other words, good enough to start in a Super Bowl? And keep a promising backup who also knows the offense? Oh, sorry, that is what the Texans actually did.