Neither Brian Hoyer nor Ryan Mallet blew anyone away in camp or the NFL preseason, but Hoyer ended up being named the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans prior to Week 1 of the NFL season. Hoyer didn’t play well in the Texans’ first game of the season, throwing for 236 yards on 18-of-34 passing, and tossing one touchdown and one interception (he also lost a fumble) in the Texans 27-20 loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. But Hoyer didn’t play atrociously either. However, head coach Bill O’Brien felt he had seen enough, and he opted to have Mallet finish the game, inserting him at quarterback with 6:10 left in the fourth quarter, when Houston trailed 27-9. He completed eight of 13 passes and threw a touchdown.
After making that change in Week 1 it has been reported that O’Brien will name Mallet the starter for this Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. If this is true it would be a huge mistake. Not necessarily because I believe Hoyer is the better quarterback of the two, but because it sends the wrong message to the team. Both signal callers have proven they have some talent, but both have also shown that it will be very difficult for a team to win a Super Bowl with either of them at quarterback.
Changing quarterbacks after only one week sends the message that the Houston Texans are in panic mode already, and it is way too early to press the panic button in Houston. If Hoyer did enough in camp and the preseason in order to win the starting job, why is the head coach making this change so early in the season? If Mallet is the better quarterback of the two, why didn’t he start last Sunday? And the fact that he was late for a team practice does not count. Mallet would have been reprimanded, and been disciplined, for his tardiness, but if O’Brien felt he gave them the best chance to win, he would have started against the Chiefs.
There have been four teams since 2005 that have made a switch at quarterback after Week 1 (excluding changes made due to an injury), and only one of those teams went on to qualify for the postseason. This type of change does not usually bode well for a team. O’Brien and the Texans have probably made one of two mistakes—starting Hoyer in Week 1, or making this change to Mallet so quickly. If Hoyer was the best option at quarterback going into the opening week of the season, he should still be the option the Texans go with in Week 2. If he wasn’t, and Hoyer is better, then why wasn’t the former New England Patriot named the Week 1 starter? It seems like the Texans and their head coach are already panicking and grasping at straws after only one week. And that is not a good sign for things to come in Houston this season.
Sep 13, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) attempts a pass during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium. The Chiefs defeated the Texans 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports