Texans: Cue The Quarterback Controversy


Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the Houston Texans have serious issues at quarterback.

It’s become as predictable as the blazing summer heat, melting away the expectations of even the most optimistic Texans fan. And optimism was in short supply following Houston’s opening day home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, thanks in no small part to – you guessed it – their quarterback play.

Brian Hoyer was tapped by head coach Bill O’Brien to be the starter this season after neither he nor backup Ryan Mallett was particularly impressive in the preseason. The sales pitch for why Hoyer was the better choice began soon after.

“He’s more consistent,” O’Brien said. “Cleveland didn’t do him any favors,” we were told. “My best football is ahead of me,” Hoyer promised.


Hoyer was completely out of sorts on Sunday, as Kansas City jumped on the Houston Texans early following a Hoyer interception inside the Houston 10-yard line on his very first pass of the season. In case you missed it, it wasn’t as if rookie cornerback Marcus Peters made a spectacular play on the ball. Hoyer threw it right to him.

It wouldn’t get much better.

Hoyer consistently threw behind his receivers, showed little poise in the pocket, and held the ball far too long on numerous occasions in the face of an aggressive Chiefs’ pass rush. On one such occasion, Kansas City’s Justin Houston stripped Hoyer of the ball, resulting in his second turnover inside the Texans’ own 10-yard line in the first half. Jamaal Charles caught Alex Smith‘s third TD pass on the next play and Houston looked finished, trailing 27-9 at the half.

Finally Bill O’Brien had seen enough. With just over six minutes left to play in the 4th quarter, Ryan Mallett entered the game and immediately made an impact. He marched the Texans down the field on a 59-yard scoring drive for a quick touchdown, a bullet to DeAndre Hopkins that cut Kansas City’s lead to 27-17. After a Kansas City punt, Mallett got the ball back with a chance to snatch the starter’s job away from Hoyer and prove that O’Brien had picked the wrong guy.

No such luck.

Mallett did lead the Texans back down the field, but he failed to solidify his position as the surefire starter going forward. He missed a couple of wide open passes, most notably a 3rd & 10 “gimme” to a wide open Garrett Graham that would have extended the drive and set Houston up with a first down inside the red zone. Instead, they settled for a Randy Bullock field goal and a 27-20 defeat.

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Hoyer finished the day 18-34 for 236 yards and a touchdown, but his two turnovers proved to be the deciding factor in the loss. Mallett, meanwhile, was 8-13 for 98 yards and a touchdown, showcasing both the dazzling arm strength and maddening inconsistency that has prevented him from winning the starter’s job since he arrived in Houston.

With both players showing only flashes of consistent play (as was the case in the preseason) and regardless of what might come out of the mouths of players and coaches this week, the Texans have a full-on, Grade A quarterback controversy on their hands. Regardless of who comes out on top, neither Hoyer nor Mallett has given fans any reason to believe that he is the long term answer at quarterback in Houston.

Sound familiar?

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