For any NFL team without a franchise quarterback, the search for that figure becomes all-encompassing.
Finding an answer at the most vital position in football makes or breaks organizations. It’s why the New England Patriots have won 14 of the past 15 division titles. It’s why the Cleveland Browns have crawled through the desert of hopelessness, starving for wins, enduring an 0-16 season.
When a team unearths its man, it can change the fortunes of the franchise.
Take the Houston Texans, for example. For three seasons, Bill O’Brien went through quarterbacks like high schoolers go through romantic partners. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage each started for Houston under O’Brien’s watch.
Then the Texans made a move for Deshaun Watson last year, trading a first-round pick in 2018 (No. 4 overall) to snag the dynamic signal-caller. Even after seeing Watson in action for just six starts before an ACL tear, Houston knows it’s found a franchise quarterback.
Joining NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Monday, O’Brien noted no price is too high to get the QB position right.
“I don’t think you can quantify how important it is,”
“It’s so important. That position on any team carries the dreams, the hopes, of the organization. When you have a guy who you feel can do those things, can be a great guy off the field for you, obviously be great on the field for you, has a passion for being a great teammate, trying to get better every single day, obviously has the talent to play at the highest level, that means a lot to your organization.”
After paying a second-round pick to dump Osweiler’s contract and a first-rounder to trade up for Watson, most of the Texans’ 2018 draft stock was used to reset the quarterback position. For O’Brien, that’s simply the price of correcting past mistakes.
“It’s the hardest position in football to evaluate,”
“Very, very difficult to evaluate. When you look at them in college, you’re not sure exactly what maybe their coach is telling them in that system. When you interview them, you’re trying to teach them some things that maybe you’ll do with them, see how they pick that up. You just have to do the best job you can of spending time with the person, with making sure that you know everything you can know about that person. And when you feel it in your gut, and your organization feels it, then you go ahead and make that pick. But it’s a very, very important position on any team in the NFL.”
After several swings and misses, the Texans found a multi-dimensional playmaker in Watson. So long as the ACL tear is a one-off fluke injury, Houston will have finally found its long-term answer at the most important position in sports.
O’Brien added that Watson remains “on schedule” to participate in training camp.
Having the franchise QB 100 percent for the regular season will make O’Brien’s life immensely easier heading into his fifth season.