The Texans have assembled a playoff-caliber roster with one missing ingredient: competent quarterback play. Tony Romo would have been a natural fit in Houston, but with him taking off for CBS, the Texans are left in a bind. Should they stick with a QB already on their roster, or look elsewhere? Robert Mays and Michael Lombardi discussed the team’s options on The Ringer NFL Show.
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.
Tony Romo Wouldn’t Have Fixed the Texans’ Problems
Michael Lombardi: Houston was lukewarm on Romo; there was a period before the combine where Houston wasn’t going to do anything with Romo. And then some time during the combine things shifted, they were interested in Romo, if he was released only, not for trade.
Robert Mays: So when you look at Houston … this is a playoff team that gave New England a very serious run with Brock Osweiler playing a quarterback on television. That’s what he was doing — he was playing the role of quarterback, he looked like one, but he certainly wasn’t one. Where do you go from here if you’re the Texans, when you have such a promising set of guys and really are on the brink of doing something if you figure out that position?
Lombardi: I think what Houston did was the right thing. I think they were kidding themselves with the [belief] in Brock Osweiler. [Trading Osweiler] was the right move, regardless of whether they were going to get Tony Romo or not. Because the only way you get better is to admit this player isn’t good enough.
Bill Walsh used to say, "If I have a pair of twos I’m going to discard them because I need a better hand to win the poker hand." I agree with that. I think this is a smart play. This news really doesn’t affect Houston in the long term. It affects them a little bit in the short term, [but] it doesn’t affect them on the long term. They still need a long-term answer at quarterback whether Romo was in their plans or not.
You’re dealing with a guy who lacks durability, who’s [about to turn] 37 years old. How long could he have played? Could he have played 10 games? Could he have played eight games? Could he have played two seasons? There is a mystery that was involved there. I think what Houston has to do is take a proactive approach in this draft and find a quarterback that they like.
Lombardi: Now, they like Tom Savage, they have liked Tom Savage ever since they’ve had him. They liked him all last summer, they liked him more last summer than they did Brock Osweiler. In fact, if it was an open competition last summer, Savage would have won the job. That’s the missing link here. They like Savage, they’re prepared to play with Savage.
Mays: They like Tom Savage, but they didn’t like Tom Savage enough not to go out and sign Brock Osweiler.
Lombardi: If we go back and really analyze the Brock Osweiler signing, I think Rick Smith went ahead, acted on his own as the general manager … and went ahead and signed him. … I talked to the coaches there and there wasn’t a lot of love [for Osweiler]. My sense of it is, yes you’re right, you can make that statement. But I think the general manager made this [move] more than the coaching staff in a unified decision.
Mays: Sure, but the general manager there is still the general manager. It’s not as if the entire contingent that wanted Osweiler and didn’t think Savage was the guy is gone, even if the coaching staff did. The organization made a very serious commitment to someone else as their long-term answer at quarterback. And the organization, in terms of the bodies, is still the same. So it would be hard to sit there and say, "Well, Tom Savage is our guy." Like you said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were proactive in the draft. If they came out and said, "We know we need a new answer."
Mays: When you’re sitting at no. 25, do you try to go up and get somebody? Do you wait and do it at 25? Do you use a second-round pick? How proactive do you feel like they have to be, now that they don’t have the long-term answer on the roster very clearly?
Lombardi: Is Deshaun Watson the guy? And then they’ve got to do their due diligence to see where he could go. It wouldn’t surprise me if Deshaun Watson went to Jacksonville at no. 4. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. It wouldn’t surprise me if he slid to 12 or 13. I think it’s so early to know. I think you just got to do your due diligence, you’ve got to look at all the quarterbacks in the draft and you’ve got to make a decision, and you’ve got to have Plan A and Plan B and Plan C. And you can’t get married to just one, because it’s never going to go the way you think it’s going to go.
Mays: It just feels like them spending a first-round pick on a quarterback isn’t out of the question, nor should it be, when you consider all of the other factors in play with that roster right now.
Lombardi: You scour the market, where can you find one? They like Savage. OK. Now maybe their actions don’t demonstrate a love of Savage to satisfy everyone, but they do like Savage, so they know they have someone there.
They have Brandon Weeden on the team, [but] I’m not sure that’ll work well; I’ve lived that before — good luck to them if they go in that direction. That won’t work out well. I can promise you how that’s going to go.
The reality here is, their no. 1 team need is quarterback. And this draft, for whatever we think about this draft, has some players that could potentially step in and play quarterback. Now, could they play next season? I don’t know — it’s going to take some time. If you’re the Houston Texans, do you have an offense that can build around a young quarterback? Maybe. You’ve got a good defense, you’ve got some skill players offensively. But the one thing they’ve got to do is find a quarterback and develop a quarterback for the future. It’s what’s going to make this franchise sustainable for future years.