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Despite lacking a franchise-caliber quarterback last year, the Texans finished 9-7 and nearly made their first trip to the playoffs since 2012. The team responded in the offseason by trading Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Jets for a conditional late-round pick. Fitzpatrick started 12 games, completed over 63 percent of passes, and threw 17 touchdowns against eight interceptions in 2014. The 32-year-old is career journeyman who has never been a world-beater, but he did fare respectably enough last season to rank as Pro Football Focus’ (subscription required) 12th-best QB out of 28 signal callers who played at least 50 percent of their teams’ offensive snaps.
To replace Fitzpatrick, Houston made a couple of two-year signings: They added free agent Brian Hoyer on a deal worth $4.75MM guaranteed, and re-signed Ryan Mallett for $7MM. Neither was on Fitzpatrick’s level in 2014. As a member of the Browns, Hoyer started 13 games, ranked 24th out of PFF’s 28 qualifying QBs and also put up worse traditional numbers than Fitzpatrick (55.3 completion rate, 12 TDs, 13 INTs). Mallett amassed similarly uninspiring stats in three games with Houston, completing 54.7 percent of passes and averaging a meager 5.3 yards per attempt.
Hoyer and Mallett competed during the summer for the starting job – a battle that Hoyer won. However, his stay atop Houston’s QB depth chart didn’t last long. After going 18 of 34 for 236 yards, a score and a pick in Week 1, head coach Bill O’Brien pulled Hoyer in favor of Mallett in the Texans’ 27-20 loss to the Chiefs. Mallett fared well in relief (8 of 13, 98 yards and a TD). That was enough for O’Brien to name Mallett the team’s starter for this Sunday’s game against the Panthers.
While the season is only a week old, it appears QB is primed to weigh down a fairly talented Texans team in 2015. With that in mind, did the organization handle the position properly during the offseason? Instead of Hoyer and/or Mallett, should they have signed a different free agent? Were they wrong to jettison Fitzpatrick, who is now the Jets’ starter and turned in a solid opening week performance? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!