HOUSTON (AP) — The Texans already have a quarterback controversy after just one game.
Houston coach Bill O’Brien replaced Tom Savage with rookie Deshaun Watson at halftime of the Texans’ 29-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, leaving questions about who will start on Thursday night for a team long plagued with problems at the position.
“We’ve got a quick turnaround here so we’ve got a lot of film to watch, a lot of things to get caught up on,” O’Brien said.
“The decision to go with Deshaun had more to do with could we find a spark, could we find somebody that maybe could make a play. That could escape the pocket. I thought that Tom hung in there and played very tough. But we had a hard time protecting him so I made the decision to go with Deshaun.”
O’Brien won’t have much time to decide on a starter for Week 2, with a quick turnaround before the trip to Cincinnati.
“I’ll take a little while to think about it a long time tonight and try to continue to work on Cincinnati and see what the best approach is versus them,” he said.
Watson became the ninth quarterback to play for the Texans in the past five seasons. They’ve struggled to find consistency at the position for years and hoped Savage would be the one to provide that a year after they gave Brock Osweiler a $72 million contract, only to bench him before the season was over.
When Houston traded up 13 picks to take Watson 12th overall in this year’s draft, many assumed he’d be the starter to open the season. But O’Brien insisted he’d back up Savage and raved about his progress.
He had seen enough after Houston’s offense failed to move the ball for two quarters during which Savage managed just 62 yards passing and lost two fumbles, including one which was returned for a touchdown to leave the Texans in a 19-0 hole at halftime.
“We just weren’t in synch,” Savage said. “That’s kind of what it was. Holding onto the ball a little too long, trying to make some plays downfield and the game is not meant to be second-and-15.”
The crowd, who had booed Savage for much of the first half, cheered loudly when Watson, who led Clemson to a national title last season, trotted onto the field for the second half.
He didn’t waste any time getting going, throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins on his first drive to cut the lead to 19-7 early in the third quarter.
He wasn’t able to do much after that and finished with two turnovers after fumbling on a sack and throwing an interception late.
Watson was 12 of 23 for 102 yards and had two carries for 16 yards.
“It was all right,” Watson said of his performance. “A learning lesson. You live and learn. First career NFL game so there’s a lot to learn from.”
Neither quarterback had much time to throw playing behind a porous offensive line that allowed the Jaguars to set a franchise record with 10 sacks. The Texans played without veteran left tackle Duane Brown, who is holding out.
Hopkins finished with seven receptions for 55 yards, with six of his receptions coming on passes from Watson. He said he and Watson need to work on some things this week, but he was impressed with his work overall.
“That’s what he needed, to go out there and get his feet wet,” Hopkins said. “Even though the circumstances where what they were I think he came in and went with the flow.”