Texans training camp preview: Quarterbacks
For the first time in a long time there’s no doubt about the quarterback position going into training camp. Deshaun Watson is the franchise and heads into this thing with only his health to worry about. Returning from his torn ACL takes time and while he looks ready to go, it will be up to the coaching staff to keep him on a reasonable snap count while he tests himself in a more regimented practice.
That leaves plenty of playing time for the team to address the real need under center, the one that tanked their 2017 season; Watson’s backup. The fiasco that was Tom Savage is gone, but a lack of available options has left the position still in flux. Currently the options are Brandon Weeden, Joe Webb, and Stephen Morris. The frontrunner is obviously Weeden at this point.
If that doesn’t boost your confidence then you’re not alone. But don’t worry, it could be worse. They could be without Weeden. His seven years have to count for something and it’s not like there are a lot of great options available in free agency. He’s played in the system before so his learning curve won’t be as steep and he is at least capable in a backup role.
Joe Webb has nine years in the NFL but has thrown a total of 159 passes, only seven of those coming after 2011. He’s been used mostly for his athleticism, at times playing positions other than quarterback. He will most likely be in camp the help the offense mimic Watson’s athleticism but not a serious threat to take over as the No. 2 guy.
Stephen Morris is just another guy. He’s been around the league since 2014 but has yet to make a roster. He’s got a great arm, but his accuracy and pocket presence still haven’t quite developed since college. Maybe Bill O’Brien really sees something coachable in him and at 25 years old they keep a third quarterback to develop. I doubt it but stranger things have happened.
Overall, the team is in good shape as long as Watson is ready in Week 1 against the Patriots. Before his injury in Week 8 last season he had a QB rating of 103, on pace to be the highest in franchise history. He was also leading the league in touchdown passes and on pace to throw for more than 4,000 yards. With those numbers he would have been a top contender for Rookie of the Year honors and probably a Pro-Bowl selection.
The goal of the head coach and front office for this position should be a stiff competition for the backup quarterback job. It wouldn’t surprise me if either Webb or Morris were kept on a very short leash while conversations are started with one or two veterans still on the market. Austin Davis, Mark Sanchez and Matt Moore are all names to be considered if the Texans want to go that route. But I assume they will just announce that the job belongs to Weeden and focus attention to other positions of need.