After a decent fourth-quarter showing in the Houston Texans Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Texans coach Bill O’Brien announced that backup quarterback Ryan Mallett will be the starter for Week 2.
Mallett took former starter Brian Hoyer’s place after Hoyer had a miserable outing through three quarters and got pulled.
The change itself isn’t all that surprising (although it was a short stint for Hoyer) but for the Texans, this is their fifth quarterback change in their last seven games, going back to Week 11 of the 2014 season.
Last year, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starter, before he got benched for Mallett. Mallett got hurt in his second game, and Fitzpatrick became the starter again. Then, Fitzpatrick got hurt, and backup Tom Savage got the start in Week 15. However, in the final two weeks, the Texans gave Case Keenum a shot at starter. Hoyer got the job in Week 1 this year, got pulled, and now Mallett is the starter again.
As Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle reports, the Texans front office is starting to lose patience with O’Brien’s inability to find his guy. Worsening matters, according to Smith, is that O’Brien pushed for the signing of Hoyer and made him the starter, despite Mallett being the favorite for most of Houston.
Smith writes, “O’Brien’s suddenly in the cross hairs, giving up the security of 9-7 in his first year for the scrutiny that comes with benching a QB he begged Houston to believe in and promoting a 27-year-old who didn’t own an alarm clock three weeks ago.” The alarm clock reference is to Mallett getting benched for showing up late to practice during training camp.
While Mallett looked solid in his two games last season, and he has an otherworldly arm, at 27 years old, he still has only started two games. He spent a year as Tom Brady’s backup in New England, it took him 11 weeks to win the job from Fitzpatrick last season, and he didn’t win the job from Hoyer during training camp. It’s fair to question if he has that much to offer, particularly in an offense that lost Andre Johnson in the offseason and is missing its top rusher in Arian Foster.
O’Brien reportedly has insisted that his offensive system can take care of itself, regardless of who is the quarterback. So far, he’s gone through four other quarterbacks and hasn’t found a full-time starter. If Mallett plays well on Sunday, O’Brien will look smart for promoting him, but if he struggles, things will only get messier.