When we talk about the great quarterback carousels of the NFL over the years, the Cleveland Browns are often the first team brought up. The team hasn’t been able to figure out the position since their return to the NFL in 1999, and they’ve become the punch line to QB jokes for fans around the league.
But there’s another team quietly paralleling the Browns’ ineptness behind centre, one that will overtake Cleveland with the most QBs to start a game since the start of the 2014 season.
As ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out, when rookie Deshaun Watson takes the first snap for the Texans in their Thursday Nighter against the Cincinnati Bengals, he’ll be the ninth to do so for the team since 2014, one more than the Browns during that time, and most in the NFL.
Overlooked by their often strong defence and the two playoff appearances the team has made since 2014 is the Texans’ incredibly trying time finding a quarterback that sticks lately. Let’s take a look at some of the gems:
Last year’s big ticket free agent Brock Osweiler leads the list in both starts and money wasted. The 26-year-old turned an only slightly above average 2015 season in Denver into a four-year, $72 million ($37 million guaranteed) contract with the Texans. Houston was so desperate to dump that deal just one year later they parted with a second-round pick to facilitate his exit to Cleveland. Osweiler finished with 2,957 yards and 15 touchdowns to 16 interceptions 14 starts for the Texans.
The Fitz-Magic Tour spent a season in Houston in 2014 when Ryan Fitzpatrick, the 34-year-old journeyman – and Harvard grad! – started 12 games for the Texans. Fitzpatrick finished with 2,483 yards and 17 touchdowns to eight interceptions in his lone season with the team.
Next on the list is Brian Hoyer, who is coincidentally first on the Browns’ list of eight starters during the same span, and currently working his way up what could be a similarly dubious list for the San Francisco 49ers in a couple years. Hoyer finished with 2,606 yards and 19 touchdowns to seven interceptions in 11 games – nine starts – for the Texans in 2015. And just for fun, the 31-year-old’s stat line with the Browns from 2013-14 was 3,941 yards and 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 16 starts.
Ryan Mallett dragged himself out of bed for nine games and six starts over two seasons with the Texans from 2014-15. Mallett finished with 1,170 yards and five touchdowns to six interceptions before moving on to the Baltimore Ravens.
Week 1 starter Tom Savage rounds out the Top 5 with six appearances and three starts. His performance in the Texans’ Week 1 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars (7/13 for 62 yards) likely means he won’t be making it any farther up the list.
Watson’s first task as newly minted starter will be jumping ahead of the likes of TJ Yates, Case Keenum, and Brandon Weeden (five combined starts). The good news is reports suggest Texans brass think they’ve landed a future star with the first round pick from Clemson. Ignoring the fact they are the same people who thought it was a good idea to give Osweiler $37 million guaranteed, the carousel could finally be coming to a stop tonight in Cincy.