We’re still a few months away from the start of battles on the NFL gridiron, but there’s no offseason when it comes to debate amongst fans. This week, we’ve launched a new series here at PFR that will be known as the Community Tailgate. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every weekday, we’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.
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Until this week’s possibly apocryphal discussion of Peyton Manning returning to the AFC South, we hadn’t heard a ton on the subject of the Texans’ quarterback situation. The spot’s been in relatively unsteady hands since former Pro Bowler Matt Schaub‘s rapid swoon helped sink the Texans, who were one Week 17 win away from home-field advantage in 2012, into ownership of the top spot in the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes during a 2-14 campaign in 2013. And since, the team’s addressed its biggest need area with essential but unspectacular moves. From what turned out to be a one-year rental of Ryan Fitzpatrick before trading the journeyman to the Jets, to selecting Tom Savage in the fourth round last year, to now creating a derby between ex-Tom Brady understudies Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer that doesn’t have many NFL pundits revved up.
He of a 7-6 record last season before being replaced by Johnny Manziel in Cleveland, Hoyer signed a two-year contract worth $10.5MM ($4.75MM guaranteed). Despite far less in-game seasoning in two career starts (both coming last season), Mallett re-signed on a two-year, $7MM deal shortly after to create a strange scenario where a team signs both of its potential starting signal-callers in free agency. The 29-year-old Hoyer is the 21st-highest-paid quarterback in 2015, per OverTheCap, while Mallett, 27, ranks as one of the league’s best-compensated backups in the event Hoyer can beat out the former third-round pick. Despite neither completing passes at a rate higher than 55 percent last year, Hoyer and Mallett were two of the most coveted QBs in a barren veteran class. Yet the Texans acted quickly to sign each, signifying what may again be a dire scenario for a team that re-routed its fortunes back to respectability behind a strong running game and the league’s best defensive player.
The Texans’ defense, which ranked seventh in points yielded in 2014, will aid the winner of this battle. But Houston could still be restricted by limited quarterback play. Longtime Houston Chronicle scribe John McClain notes of each player’s minicamp progression in Bill O’Brien‘s offense with which both Hoyer and Mallett are familiar (Hoyer spent three years under O’Brien in New England). McClain calls Hoyer the safer option, with Mallett presenting “terrific” upside.
So, which which of these ex-Patriots should get the chance to lead the Houston offense this season? Does the 6-foot-6 Mallett’s possibly greater potential need to finally be either validated or exposed as flawed thinking, or should the 6-3 Hoyer’s experience winning in a Browns offense devoid of much weaponry warrant the first shot at the Texans’ gig? Does this become a revolving-door scenario where each jostle for the job all season, or does O’Brien have the patience to let one develop behind a solid offensive line? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.