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Tom Savage thrown into action and this baptism by fire's a good thing for the Texans quarterback future

Tom Savage thrown into action: Baptism by fire helps Texans QB future

Tom Savage pocket Texans 49ers
Tom Savage found himself thrust into action with Ryan  Fitzpatrick carted off. Photo By Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap

INDIANAPOLIS — The Tom Savage era has begun in Houston. It's earlier than almost anyone expected, much earlier than Texans coach Bill O'Brien hoped or planned. But the fourth round draft pick rookie quarterback now has the Texans' fate in his hands.

With Ryan Fitzpatrick taken off the field on a cart after suffering a devastating leg injury, Savage's chance is here. It comes in Indianapolis, the land of so-many Texans horrors, in a key AFC South matchup.

Savage walks onto the field with 13:11 left in the second quarter. His first play baptism? A third-and-four situation.

So how does Savage respond? He whips a quick pass to wideout DeAndre Hopkins for a first down. O'Brien does not let him do much more than that on his first series though. When Savage gets immediately sacked on a play-action fake that has no chance on the very next play, the Texans coach pulls in the reins. On a third-and-15, O'Brien has Savage hand the ball off to Arian Foster.

 Savage walks onto the field with 13:11 left in the second quarter. His first play baptism? A third-and-four situation. 

The Texans have a real chance to found out what they have in Savage now though.

Fitzpatrick — a middling journeyman who never was going to be anything but a stopgap — is likely done for the season. He has already been declared out for the game and not many guys return after being carted off. The teammates of the quarterback affectionally dubbed Uncle Fitz seem to realize this as well.

As Fitzpatrick gets driven off, the Texans offensive linemen and receivers run up and stop the cart to give him hand slaps of appreciation. It's a touching scene — and one that underscores the brutal, next man up nature of the NFL.

Savage gets thrust into an immediate sink or swim situation. And it may turn out to be the best thing for a franchise that needs to think about its future. Fitzpatrick's injury is cruel and unkind to a guy who has done nothing but work hard and do his limited best. But with no more games against his personal punching bag Titans, the Texans were not going to learn anything for the long term by watching Ryan Fitzpatrick play quarterback for a few more games.

Now if Savage is healthy — he limped through the locker room after the game — the Texans do have a chance to see a real potential future quarterback. Which doesn't mean it is always going to be pretty.

The rookie and Foster can't come together on a simple handoff on Savage's second series and the resulting near comical fumble kills important momentum. But Savage shows the arm that drew Bill O'Brien to him in the first place on a 35-yard sideline pass to Hopkins in a two-minute drill at the end of the first half.

This is how it is with a rookie quarterback, you live with the bad for the promise of the good.

"We've got to think about things he's comfortable doing," O'Brien says in his walking off the field halftime radio interview, with Savage having completed two of his first five passes.