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  • Texans QB Tom Savage's agent sounds off on benching

    After Texans quarterback Tom Savage was benched following a two-quarter stint in the season opener, his agent Neil Schwartz (right) sounded off in an interview Wednesday.

    Texans quarterback Tom Savage's agent took to the media Wednesday to defend his client after the signal caller's abrupt benching in the team's season opener.

    Veteran agent Neil Schwartz expressed dismay over his client being pulled by Texans coach Bill O'Brien after halftime of Sunday's 29-7 loss to Jacksonville at NRG Stadium.

    "I'm still trying to figure this out ... 31 plays and you're getting benched?" Schwartz said in an interview with NBC Sports' Mike Florio. "It makes no sense."

    When asked by Florio who ultimately made the call to start Watson - which the Texans are expected to do - for Thursday's game at Cincinnati, Schwartz said "I don't know - I'd love to find out." He added that he had not tried to talk to Texans general manager Rick Smith after Savage's benching.

    Schwartz said he even consulted other industry personnel about the move. Savage was 7-for-13 for 62 yards with a 66.8 passer rating. He was sacked six times and lost two fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

    "I watched all 31 plays, because that was the extent of what Tom saw in the first half," Schwartz said. "And I can't figure out why he's benching Tom. I went through every single play and I even went one step further. I asked two different NFL personnel people (or) coaches on two separate teams to evaluate and break down the film to see if I was missing something. He went 7 for 13 ... 12 of the 13 balls touched the receiver's hands. The only ball that didn't was the strip-sack fumble that they called incomplete (upon replay). Seven were completions, five were drops.

    "If you watch the film and you say 'I see something wrong that deserves to be benched,' I wouldn't be on the phone with you now. The second issue which I heard is he held the ball too long. He didn't hold the ball too long. Every play except for the one that was third and 12 (and) he got sacked was (released in) less than three seconds."

    One sticking point for Schwartz was Savage being the starter throughout the offseason and preseason - and getting starter's reps - only to get the hook 30 minutes into the season.

    "Tom earned the right to be the starter," Schwartz said. It 'wasn't given to him. And he's worked hard every day in training camp and the exhibition season to be the starter – on the field and off the field – to maintain a leadership role. After 31 plays, you bench him? I have an issue."

    Schwartz said several times that benching Savage was O'Brien's prerogative, but that he decided to speak out to back Savage, the career backup who started two games last season after free-agent bust Brock Osweiler was benched.

    "I wanted to defend Tom and this was my choice," Schwartz said. "I spoke to Tom and he was OK with it and comfortable. Someone had to defend Tom and I didn't feel the coaching staff defended Tom or defended his performance.

    "I don't normally do this. This is only the second time I've done this in my career and it's only to defend a client where I felt he wasn't getting defended properly by the team or the media.

    "Tom's obviously taken the high road and I would only expect Tom to take the high road. He's going to support Deshaun and he's going to support the team. He wants to beat Cincinnati and be a part of the Houston organization. He loves it down there. It's just frustrating."

    Upon replacing Savage, Watson was 12-of-23 for 102 yards with a touchdown and interception and finished with a 60.4 passer rating. He also lost a fumble.

    Watson will become the ninth different starting quarterback in O'Brien's four seasons as Texans coach. In the 2015 season opener, he benched Brian Hoyer after three quarters for Ryan Mallett. Hoyer returned to the starting role in week 6.

    Florio asked Schwartz if he expected a reprise of that QB carousel.

    "Getting benched after 31 plays is incredulous to me, so at this point in time, nothing will surprise me," Schwartz said. "I don't have a response because I'm shocked (Savage) got benched after 31 plays."

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    • Deshaun Watson's ankle injury could make him risky start for Texans

      Sarah Barshop/ESPN Staff Writer
      HOUSTON -- While Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson struggled at times in his NFL debut on Sunday after replacing starter Tom Savage at halftime, he was praised by the team's coaching staff for his mobility and ability to escape the pocket to make plays.

      “Deshaun’s a playmaker,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He can make plays with his feet. He knows what to do. He checked us in and out of plays. He has good instincts out on the field.”

      The Texans are expected to start the rookie quarterback on Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, provided he does not experience any setbacks after injuring his ankle in Sunday's loss. If that ankle injury limits his mobility at all, it would be risky to play Watson on the road on a short week for his first NFL start given the way the offensive line struggled in the season opener. Watson was able to use his feet to escape the pocket on Sunday, but he was still sacked four times in just one half. The Texans allowed a franchise-record 10 sacks in the game.

      The Texans' first-round pick, whom they traded their 2018 first-round pick to acquire, was listed as a limited participant on Monday but a full participant in practice on Tuesday. He took every first-team snap in the portion of practice open to the media.

      On Sunday, the rookie was 12-of-23 for 102 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Jaguars and led the Texans down the field on his first NFL drive, throwing a 4-yard scoring pass to DeAndre Hopkins for the Texans' only points. The drive could have ended twice if not for penalties on the Jaguars, one on a third-and-20 and another after a bad pass by Watson that was intercepted in the red zone.

      While Savage's mobility hindered him and he didn't lead the Texans to any points, his numbers were similar to Watson's. Savage averaged 4.8 yards per attempt, Watson 4.4. The rookie threw 23 passes, with Houston abandoning the running game while trailing by two possessions the entire second half.

      O'Brien is trying to avoid going back and forth with his starters, as he has done in the past, saying he's “going to try [his] best to stick with the decision" after he makes it for Thursday night's game.

      O’Brien was asked what else he will take into consideration when determining his choice for Thursday -- and going forward -- including the offensive line. The coach said everything else around the quarterback affects his decision, but it’s important to do what’s right for the team as well.

      “You want to try to do the best you can for the player, you want to try to do the best you can for the team when you make those decisions [and] what’s best for the team," O'Brien said. "Every time you make that decision you’re trying to – in your mind, you’re making a decision that affects the whole team. So, you have to do a good job of evaluating not only the player, but everything around the player.”

      Comment


      • A 67 passer rating and the agent is surprised by the benching...I guess we know why he is an agent and not a coach.
        Houston Texans...Squandering JJs talent for another year with bad QB play...

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        • Hopkins single handedly ruined savages passer rating none the less still better than Watson who really through 2 picks but hit lucky with a penalty on one when savage through none

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          • Originally posted by dogle18 View Post
            Hopkins single handedly ruined savages passer rating none the less still better than Watson who really through 2 picks but hit lucky with a penalty on one when savage through none
            Bingo -- Blame the best offensive player for not doing more instead of blaming the rest of the lethargic offense for not doing anything.

            As far as I know, most QB's ratings decrease when they're under pressure, and decrease dramatically when they're getting hit consistently throughout the game.

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