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O’Brien on QB Competition: “Wide Open”

Posted May 27, 2014

He didn’t say that, did he? Yes he did.

He didn’t say that, did he? Yes he did. When Bill O’Brien was asked after the Texans first OTA session if there was a competition among the quarterbacks he said...

“It’s wide open.”

And those of you who have automatically penned Ryan Fitzpatrick in at starter should remember what O’Brien said after the draft: “There will be competition at every single position. Quarterback is definitely one of them.”

And what about his system being too tough for a rookie to pick up and play in? “You know, I don’t think it’s that complicated. I think we teach it in a way that our guys have been able to pick it up throughout the times that we’ve had different guys.” said the coach after the draft.

Of course Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t brought here to just sit around but, for the moment, let’s go with the premise that this is a winnable job for any QB on the roster. Here’s a look at the candidates for the most important position on the squad.

Ryan Fitzpatrick – He’s on his fifth NFL team and has been through more than a half-dozen offensive systems. Having been around the block, he could be a quick study on this new attack. He’s a career 60% passer with a QB rating of around 80 in the past four campaigns. Experience, and the fact that the team signed him as a free agent, makes him a favorite to start opening day.

Case Keenum This time last year we were amazed that he looked good in a rookie/1st year player camp as then coach Gary Kubiak said he was pushing to climb the depth chart. He would barely lose out in the number two job preseason battle to T.J. Yates in 2013 but ultimately find his way to the field for eight starts. After blasting out of the gate with seven TDs and no picks in his first three games, he cooled off. He’s still looking for his first NFL win as a starter.

Tom SavageHe has a rifle arm and size that coaches love. Having been at three college programs and being humbled and educated by the experience could help his cause. He has to make plays in practice and show that he can handle the mental and physical demands of the O’Brien offense. The Texans could have had any quarterback in this draft and elected to eventually go with Savage. Sure he’s a rookie but a projected high ceiling a clean slate could add to the allure to give him a shot.

T.J. Yates –
 Passed over for Keenum when Matt Schaub was hurt last year, he’s out to prove that the moxie that led him to wins in the franchise’s two most celebrated victories (over Cincinnati in 2011) was no fluke. He’s the tallest QB on the roster and the only one to start or win a playoff game. A super, if not solid, showing in the next few weeks could sway the new coaching staff’s approval for more action.

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