Uh oh. Things got real in Houston this week.
One of the worst kept secrets in the league this offseason has been the Texans’ reported desire to give Tony Romo one last chance to make a Super Bowl run. But his retirement announcement Tuesday came out of the blue and the Texans’ backup plan apparently is Tom Savage. The third-year youngster has played in five games with two starts.
Now, he is reportedly the starter-in-waiting for a team that has a defense with Super Bowl aspirations and offensive skill talent that went underutilized due to the ill-advised signing last off-season of Brock Osweiler.
Is Romo really done? And is Savage a sufficient backup plan? Or do the Texans need to expand their search and find a way to bring a more veteran presence to this otherwise solid top-to-bottom roster?
Andy: Tom Savage? Really? The Texans’ plan for 2017 revolves around Tom Savage?
No disrespect intended to the young QB-to-be, but … really? You blew the 2016 season waiting for Brock Osweiler to blossom. You wasted DeAndre Hopkins waiting for Brock Osweiler to happen. And you botched the Super Bowl worthy season put forth by a Texans’ defense that was great even minus the great J.J. Watt.
I’m not 100 percent convinced Romo is done. But I’m also not sure how much I care. I made the argument over the weekend that Colin Kaepernick might be a better option than Romo for this Texans team. I’ll stand by that now. Maybe even Jay Cutler deserves a look. Maybe Savage is ready. But you cannot – you simply cannot – go into the 2017 season with the talent you have and only Tom Savage as a legit option to be the QB, not if you want your team and fan base to buy in.
John: Yeah, this is clearly a huge blow for the Texans, who had clearly put all their eggs in the Tony Romo basket when they dumped Brock Osweiler to the Browns.
It was a risky move, but I totally understand why they did it. Last year, they made it to the divisional round of the playoffs without a legitimate starting QB. Add Romo to that roster and they might have been able to give the Patriots a run for their money. He could have done for them what Peyton Manning did for the Broncos.
In many regards this team is built to win now, especially on defensive. They have arguably the league’s most disruptive duo in Watt and Jadeveon Clooney. And while the loss of AJ Bouye hurts in the secondary, they should get back Kevin Johnson who missed much of last season to a foot injury. This is absolutely a championship-caliber defense.
And the offense isn’t really that far away, with playmakers like Hopkins, Lamar Miller and the Will Fuller. And yet it’s primed to flounder without a real QB at the helm. No, Tom Savage is not the answer. No way. Frankly, I might rather have Osweiler, who at least showed some flashes in one playoff game.
Like Andy said, this team simply cannot afford to waste another season–not when championship windows seemingly open and close so quickly in the NFL. So where should the Texans turn next?
They don’t have many options left at this point.
- Door No. 1: Draft a QB. The Texans say they plan to do so. They should have if they landed Romo, and they still should now. They need to find a QB of the future. But even the top guys in this draft are projects, so that means they still need to find a guy who can fill that void–and give them a chance to win–for the next couple of years.
- Door No. 2: Sign one of the remaining free agents. I agree with Andy that Kap could be a good fit here. He’s still young, has a ton of talent and has led winning teams before. Give him an incentive-laden contract and let it rip. The only other viable option is Cutler, who admittedly would bring some of the same frustrations as Osweiler (and Matt Schaub before him) in terms of turning the ball over. But I think this team *could* win with Cutler, who actually had been a little more careful with the ball late in his stint with the Bears. At minimum, he’s a sizable step up from Savage.
- Door No. 3: Make a trade. Most of the offseason buzz this year surrounded Jimmy Garoppolo, and perhaps Bill O’Brien could call his old friends in New England and get something done. But I’m sure it would take a king’s ransom for Belichick to deal the promising, young QB to the team that may pose the biggest threat to the Patriots’ path to another Super Bowl. AJ McCarron could be another option. But the problem here is that any trade for a QB would surely require giving up their 1st round pick, and they sadly already traded away their 2nd round pick in a deal to rid themselves of Osweiler.
Andy: Yeah, I’m not sure there are truly that many doors, at least not for the 2017 season. The rookies aren’t going to come in and pull Dak Prescotts by leading a team to the promised land.
And, while I would like to think a trade might be an option, there are truly few QBs who would truly be in play for less than a king’s ransom. Are you going to give up a first for AJ McCarron off of three starts? I don’t think Garoppolo is really an option. What then? Bring back Mike Vick? Sign the ridiculously inconsistent journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick? Bring in Brett Favre?
And Cutler doesn’t excite me either. You just got rid of a young jackwagon. Now you replace him with … an aging one?
Kaepernick has his issues, but he’s been the QB on some good teams. I see few other legit options. He probably doesn’t take the Texans to the Super Bowl, but the likelihood that Tom Savage will is lower by several factors. Go get Kap.
John: Realistically, I think this comes down to Kaepernick or Cutler for 2017, with a draft pick taking over in a year or two.
I’m not going to pretend Cutler doesn’t have his issues. But I do think he’s a better option than you give him credit for. He has the big arm to take advantage of the Texans’ play-making WRs outside.
The biggest issue has always been turnovers, but let’s not forget that the situation he was in. Frequently playing from behind in Chicago, he was asked to force the ball into coverage in a desperate attempt to get back into games. That won’t be the case in Houston, where there’s a stout defense and enough offensive weapons to take pressure off the quarterback.
I’m not saying it’s ideal — far from it. But it’s not like Kaepernick is the dream scenario either. I’d probably lean slightly toward Kap too, but ultimately, I think the Texans could compete with Cutler under center for a year or two.