How Long Will Tom Savage Be Houston Texans Starter?

Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage
How long is the leash for Houston Texans starter Tom Savage? (via @HoustonTexans on Twitter)

It is possibly the worst kept secret in the NFL, but Tom Savage is not the long term answer at quarterback for the Houston Texans. There is a reason for trading up in draft and selecting Deshaun Watson. That reason being that Savage will eventually be benched in favor of Watson. The only question that remains is how long will Savage start?

The issue with Savage is lack of track record as he has only appeared in five games in his career. This is not at all similar to the Drew Brees-Phillip Rivers situation the Chargers faced. Brees was at least able to start 27 games before San Diego drafted Rivers.
Passing Table
Year G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Y/G Rate Sk Yds 4QC GWD
2014 2 0 10 19 52.6 127 0 1 63.5 51.9 1 5
2016 3 2 46 73 63.0 461 0 0 153.7 80.9 5 36 2 2
Care 5 2 56 92 60.9 588 0 1 117.6 74.9 6 41 2 2
Even with the small sample size, there are bright spots. Completing 63 percent of his passes would tie him for 17th overall with Eli Manning. While being that low on the leaderboard is not all that impressive, it is still better than former starter Brock Osweiler (59 percent).
Former Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler
Brock Osweiler failed to live up to the expectations as a member of the Texans.
 A potential overlooked statistic is fourth quarter comebacks. Savage managed two fourth quarter comebacks which were also game winning drives. The ability to comeback in the fourth quarter is important in today’s NFL, this was on display in last season’s Super Bowl.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans rookie quarterback had tremendous success at Clemson Will it transfer to the NFL? Quarterbacks with a similar skill set have historically struggled.

Even with the improvement of Tom Savage, Deshaun Watson is on the team for a reason. The front office and coaching staff believe that Watson is the answer for long term success. Watson showcased his ability as a dynamic playmaker at Clemson and even beat the “NFL quality” defense of Alabama.

The biggest knock on Watson’s career at Clemson is the increase of interceptions. Watson has always been accurate but the jump in his interceptions is a cause for concern. However what should also be considered is that Watson will never have to throw the ball 500+ times in the Texans offense.

Passing Table
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass
Year School Class Pos G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int
*2014 Clemson FR QB 8 93 137 67.9 1466 10.7 12.1 14 2
*2015 Clemson SO QB 15 333 491 67.8 4109 8.4 8.6 35 13
*2016 Clemson JR QB 15 388 579 67.0 4593 7.9 8.0 41 17
Career Clemson 814 1207 67.4 10168 8.4 8.7 90 32

The Texans will employ a run heavy offense to lessen the burden on their quarterback. This offensive style will allow the quarterback to take advantage of the defense through play-action. This style will benefit Watson more than Savage since Watson will also be able to make plays with his feet, not just throwing the ball.

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller
Houston Texans running back will be handling most of the rushing duties. This will preserve Deshaun Watson from receiving unnecessary hits.

Watson is capable of being a runner, however it is not likely he will run as much in the NFL as he did in college. This is due to NFL defensive players being faster and stronger than college players. There is also a bad track record of run happy quarterbacks in the NFL getting hurt early in their career and never being the same. The tragic fall of Robert Griffin III instantly comes to mind.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rush Rush Rush Rush Scri Scri Scri
Year School Class G Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds TD
*2014 Clemson FR 8 63 200 3.2 5 63 200 5
*2015 Clemson SO 15 207 1105 5.3 12 207 1105 12
*2016 Clemson JR 15 165 629 3.8 9 165 629 9
Career Clemson 435 1934 4.4 26 435 1934 26
It appears that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney kept this in mind during Watson’s junior season. Watson ran 42 fewer times compared to his sophomore campaign. The offensive focus was on Watson’s passing ability not his running ability. This is seen in Watson’s 88 more passing attempts as a junior.
the offense at Clemson drastically changed from Deshaun Watson’s sophomore to junior year.

The fact of the matter is if Savage struggles, Watson will replace him. The Texans are looking at making a playoff run and another year of sub-par quarterback play will not suffice. Even if Savage is adequate but the team is losing, Watson could still replace him. If Houston starts off with a losing record in the first five games, expect Watson to start. This will be an attempt to salvage the season and make a playoff run.

Tom Savage could be leading a brand new team next season. That is if Deshaun Watson takes hold of the starting job.

Tom Savage only has a limited number of games left as the starting quarterback in Houston. This is unless he has a Drew Brees like rise in San Diego after his replacement (Phillip Rivers) came to town. Brees was able to parlay his improved play into a big contract with the Saints. Savage will have to hope he can replicate what Brees did. Since the Texans have made it clear Deshaun Watson is the future. Savage can only hope to save his career elsewhere.

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