Houston, we have problem! Houston Texans first-year Head Coach Bill O’Brien announced during a recent press conference that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who enters his tenth NFL season with his fifth team, will be starting for the Texans in 2014.
O’Brien made the safe choice declaring veteran Fitzpatrick the starter over the other equally-unattractive options Case Keenum, T.J. Yates, and Tom Savage; however, that doesn’t mean the decision will sit well with superstar Wide Receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson has not commented on the decision yet, but he can’t be very happy about it. Johnson has held out of all of the Texans offseason activities so far and has announced that he will not be attending the mandatory minicamp coming up to illustrate his frustration with playing for a rebuilding team again despite a 12-4 finish in 2012. The Texans finished the season on a 14-game losing streak partially due to the poor play by quarterback Matt Schaub. Schaub was traded to the Oakland Raiders this offseason, leaving the starting job in Houston wide open. Fitzpatrick is now the starting quarterback in Houston, and everyone is already questioning his ability to get the team back to where it was in 2012.
Fitzpatrick has never exactly been a reliable starter: in 77 professional starts he has earned a mediocre 27-49-1 record, throwing 106 touchdowns and 93 interceptions. Fitzpatrick has never won more than six games in a single season despite playing in at least ten games every year since 2008. In his 11 games with the Tennessee Titans this past season Fitzpatrick was unimpressive to say the least managing only 2,454 yards and 14 touchdowns while adding 12 interceptions and eight fumbles. Fitzpatrick is known for making bad decisions during the game that lead to turnovers, which is the last thing the Texans need this season.
So why would the Texans choose Fitzpatrick when he has not performed well as a starter in the past despite multiple chances? Fitzpatrick was the clear choice for the starting job mainly because of his NFL experience and willingness to work and to help the younger players. Fitzpatrick played with the St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, and Tennessee Titans before arriving in Houston; so he has a lot of experience with multiple different offensive systems in the NFL. Experience is something that Keenum (two years), Yates (three years), and Savage (rookie) just couldn’t bring to the table.
When asked about Fitzpatrick Texans quarterbacks coach George Godsey said that he does a great job controlling an offense and teaching the other players how to see plays through a quarterback’s eyes. Fitzpatrick will certainly need those skills this season if Johnson decides he wants out of Houston. If Johnson stays, Fitzpatrick may very likely have the best season of his NFL career; but that’s a big if and the Texans offense needs more than Fitzpatrick’s best to get back on track. Johnson and running back Adrian Foster aren’t getting any younger, and they need a quarterback that knows how to win. Only time will tell, but Fitzpatrick does not appear to be the answer the Texans are searching for.