HTX Texans
Ryan Mallett No Savior

Ryan Mallett just a rest stop on way to Tom Savage: Patriots reject no savior, QB carousel only beginning

Ryan Mallett just a stop on way to Tom Savage: Pats reject no savior

Ryan Mallett Texans Eagles
Ryan Mallett finally gets his long waited chance to drive an NFL offense, taking over as the Houston Texans starting quarterback. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Ryan Mallett
Ryan Mallett showed little with the New England Patriots, ultimately losing the backup job to a rookie. Courtesy of New England Sports
Bill O'Brien Texans Falcons sideline
Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien looks a little desperate with the Ryan Mallett move. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup
Tom Savage pocket Texans 49ers
Rookie Tom Savage — who actually does have real potential — is now waiting in the wings. Photo By Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Bill Belichick Texans
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave up on Ryan Mallett. Does Bill O'Brien know better? Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Ryan Mallett Texans Eagles
Ryan Mallett
Bill O'Brien Texans Falcons sideline
Tom Savage pocket Texans 49ers
Bill Belichick Texans

Say this for Ryan Mallett: The Houston Texans new towering starting quarterback knows how to sound like a cheesy movie hero. "I'm ready to drive," Mallett says after Bill O'Brien gives him the nod, playing off his own earlier analogy about the Texans offense being like a Maserati.

Where's Vin Diesel? And who's jumping the canyon?

Mallett's own drive figures to be a short one, just the latest brief detour in the Texans' suddenly ever-revolving quarterback position. Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett . . . that's five different quarterbacks for the Texans now in the span of 19 games. There's less turnover in a Charlie Sheen sitcom. Heck, even Derek Jeter has steadier relationships with girlfriends than the Texans do with quarterbacks.

Nine games into his first season in Houston, O'Brien's jumped into the spinning quarterback derby, pulling a Bill Belichick reject out of his hat.

The funny thing is how many otherwise sane folks seem truly excited about this move. People really do just love change. Even if it's just for the sake of change.

 Derek Jeter has steadier relationships with girlfriends than the Texans do with quarterbacks. 

There is no way to watch Mallett's preseason performances with the New England Patriots and see greatness. Or even decentness. Yet he's expected to transform a much more flawed Texans team?

Midseason quarterback changes in the NFL are typically desperate and this move looks no less grasping than most.

"You've got to start somewhere," O'Brien says when someone asks about the 26-year-old Mallett's four pass NFL history.

Mallett's first career NFL start will come Nov. 16 in Cleveland after the extra prep of a bye week. In Ohio, Johnny Manziel — the Cleveland Browns' still backup quarterback at the moment — is likely smiling, anticipating the inevitable twist of fate that will get him into that game.

With the Texans floundering at 4-5, having blown a great shot to be in prime playoff position, O'Brien's taking a shot. With Ryan Fitzpatrick — a curious signing from the beginning — the Texans' offensive game plans often seemed geared around preventing Uncle Fitz from making catastrophic mistakes rather than focused on attacking defenses. Maybe that changes with the strong-armed Mallett chucking it around.

More likely, the Texans frustration just shifts.

No coach is more open to giving quarterbacks a real shot than Bill Belichick, the man who stayed resolute in his decision to start a sixth round draft pick long before Tom Brady's stats ever become Super. Belichick had the 6-foot-6 Mallett man for three seasons and decided he wasn't up to being the heir apparent to Tom Brady. In the end, Mallett could not even beat out Jimmy Garoppolo for the Brady backup job this summer.

In Mallett's big Belichick orchestrated audition showcase — a preseason start on national TV — he goes 5 for 12 for 55 yards and leads the Patriots to zero points.

Are you really gleefully betting against a Bill Belichick quarterback evaluation?

"My football IQ is a lot higher than a lot of people give me credit for . . . " Mallett says. "If they think I’m a dumb player, fine. That’s my advantage there. I’m just trying to get better."

So the Texans go from a Harvard man to a guy who admits that he's heard teams think he's dumb. O'Brien certainly isn't afraid to mix it up.

Ryan Mallett Time

Mallett certainly deserves this opportunity. The depth chart says he's the Next Man Up and Fitzpatrick — who was breathlessly anointed by the Chronicle as being unlike any quarterback the Texans ever had before — was doing the poor job his career stats screamed he would do. Still, the best thing about this move is that it accelerates the clock on Tom Savage, the fourth round rookie quarterback from Pitt.

Savage is the only quarterback left on the Texans roster who hasn't already proven he has severe NFL limitations. The rookie impressed with his poise in the preseason, not only in leading that game-winning touchdown drive against the Denver Broncos' third and fourth stringers, but also in his locker room media interactions.

 So the Texans go from a Harvard man to a guy who admits that he's heard teams think he's dumb. O'Brien certainly isn't afraid to mix it up. 

It's a safe bet that Tom Savage won't be tweeting out a #JustWaiting hashtag the way Mallett did with Fitz's starting chair not even vacant yet.

Anything that gets Savage on the field sooner is a positive step. This is the guy that O'Brien and the Texans really need to find out about. O'Brien is promising to give Mallett a real shot, making it clear the change is not a one week thing. This coach is too smart to be yanking quarterbacks in and out of a game the way Gary Kubiak almost comically did with Schaub and Keenum last season.

"We’re going to make sure that he’s given a good opportunity to lead this football team," O'Brien says of Mallett, who will be a free agent after the season.

Still, this early Mallett chance opens up the real possibility of Savage starting by late in the season. And that's a win for Houston's future.

The quarterback carousel will be spinning again before long, searching and searching for the real right man again.