O’Brien keeps QB controversy in Houston going
HOUSTON (AP) — Brian Hoyer was terrible in his Houston debut and benched for Ryan Mallett in the fourth quarter in a loss to Kansas City on Sunday.
Now the question is whether Hoyer will keep his job or Mallett will get a chance this weekend against Carolina.
Coach Bill O’Brien said he knows who will start, but wouldn’t share it on Monday and doesn’t plan to reveal his plan before Sunday’s game.
“I’m not going to make a big quarterback announcement today,” O’Brien said. “You’ll have to wait until the first offensive play of the Carolina game to see who the quarterback will be.”
Hoyer signed in the offseason and beat Mallett out in camp for the job. But on Sunday against the Chiefs, two turnovers by Hoyer put Houston in a big early hole that was too much to overcome in the 27-20 loss.
Hoyer, who started 13 games for Cleveland last season, was intercepted on his first play as a Texan and fumbled on a sack later in the first half as the Chiefs rushed out to a 27-9 lead by halftime.
Hoyer didn’t have a turnover after the break, but was unable to move the offense. And after a series in the fourth quarter where Hoyer was penalized for intentional grounding, O’Brien brought in Mallett with about six minutes remaining.
Mallett responded by throwing a touchdown pass and 2-point conversion on his first drive and leading the Texans on a possession that ended with a field goal after that.
O’Brien was quick to point out that Hoyer isn’t the only player that needs to do better for Houston to be successful.
“It’s a team loss, no doubt about it,” O’Brien said. “The coaching has to be better ... we’ve got to figure out how to get these guys to be in better position to make plays. We’ve got to catch the ball, we’ve got to block better, we’ve got to tackle better on special teams. We’ve got to kick the ball better. We’ve got to make more plays on the ball on defense. It’s a team loss. It’s never, ever, ever one guy’s fault.”
Though it’s a blow for a quarterback to be benched mid-game, O’Brien said he wasn’t concerned about the confidence of either of his quarterbacks in the wake of what happened on Sunday. He refused to evaluate the performance of either quarterback and deflected questions about them by saying any decision on personnel is done in the best interest of the team.
“It’s a big-picture decision,” he said. “It’s not just one play or this or that. It’s what we think is the best thing that we need to do to help us beat Carolina. We’ve got two quarterbacks that we think are good players. Both of them have to play better.”
Quarterback woes are nothing new in Houston, where the Texans have long been foiled by problems at the position. They used four quarterbacks last year after Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched early and they also dealt with several quarterback injuries. Then there was 2013, when Matt Schaub was plagued by interceptions returned for touchdowns before being benched for Case Keenum. But Keenum couldn’t get the Texans on track and they dropped to an NFL-worst 2-14.
Hoyer and Mallett weren’t available to reporters on Monday, but several players on offense said the uncertainty at quarterback isn’t a distraction for the team.
“I get paid to play receiver and that’s all I can worry about,” Nate Washington said. “O’Brien has been around for quite some time, so he’s going to have an understanding of what must be done, and that’s all we can worry about. I don’t make those decisions. I’m not really worried about those decisions.”
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