In-season, I’m pumping out content faster than editing can keep up with. I don’t want to hold the recaps for hours waiting on perfection. We will correct errors after the fact, but for now – forgive any of my gaffes. I dictate some of my notes, and the computer software or Siri interpretation can be comical. I try to correct them all before publishing it, but I miss it sometimes…in the 50,000+ words I pen each week during the season (not including all the emails). I’m moving fast, and want to get the product out there ASAP at 98% ‘good’…vs. big delays trying to get to 99.9% craftsmanship. So here you go…
Now, to my favorite game of the week/season. The Tom Savage game.
I think it was more fun to watch the replay, actually… It all happened so fast during the live watch, along with the seven other games. With help from my Dad, crazy Texans fan/season ticket holder, I have some firsthand feel for when ‘it’ happened.
We have to set the scene – the Texans at home, in a must-win. If the Texans can win out they can take the division title. Any loss from here on out would be big trouble. They cannot afford to stumble with the likes of the Jaguars. Before you know it is 13-0 Jacksonville and the fans are booing Brock Osweiler, especially after having just thrown his second pick of the game/of the past three minutes early 2nd quarter.
After the first interception, my Dad turns to the surrounding fans/friends and says ‘one more pick and at least we’ll get to see Savage‘. Everyone around him says ‘no way‘. My Dad, having special insight on how good Tom Savage is
…he is hopeful. The second interception comes soon after the first. The same conversation spurs about Savage or no Savage. After everyone says ‘no way‘ this time, my Dad says, “Well then why is Savage on the sidelines with his helmet on taking snaps?” Piecing it together, I think after Osweiler threw the second pick, Bill O’Brien told Savage to get ready immediately. I believe that to be true because re-watching the game feed/TV replay — after Osweiler throws the fatal second pick there is a chorus of heavy boos that rain down on Brock. Suddenly, for no reason in the actual game itself, the boos started turning…from heavy boos to a mix of some cheers. It was odd sounding without the context of realizing off camera that Savage was warming up. I think only half the stadium noticed what my Dad did – Savage was prepping to come in.
Of course, you wouldn’t know any of the Savage stuff from watching it on TV because whatever highly-paid sideline reporter they had didn’t pick up on it. Nor did the game announcers. They just kept calling the game with the Jags on offense. I re-watched that game tape frame-by-frame from the time Osweiler threw the pick to Savage entering. I could see the clues in the background that should have been obvious to people paid to notice such things – and could see the WHOLE field…not just what I could see on TV. In a few cutaways to the sidelines, I could see Savage had his helmet on in the background. I could then see some players were coming up to Savage, after the Jags scored, and slapped him on the shoulder pads with ‘good luck’ wishes, etc. Osweiler was sitting on the bench with his helmet off. I could see bits and pieces. The TV people didn’t.
I don’t think they saw it because they don’t know who Tom Savage is and what he’s capable of. To them he’s nothing…and Houston would never make a change to someone so ‘nothing’ as Savage. After the Jags kicked off post making it 13-0, and Houston’s offense was marching onto the field, the one game announcer was like “(monotone) Well, let’s see if Brock can…WHOA, wait…(complete shock, shouting) Tom Savage is entering the game!” At that point, there was a rousing cheer from the crowd like the something out of the Roman Coliseum gladiator days. The fans have been wanting this for weeks/months.
The fans don’t even know how good, possibly momentous this move was – they just wanted change. I proclaimed Savage as a top QB prospect from the 2014 NFL Draft (along with Garoppolo and Bridgewater), while everyone else laughed. No one had a stronger arm that Savage in that draft…not even Derek Carr. Carr has a quicker release, but Savage is right up there with that too. Savage was also the best downfield passer in the class…one of the best medium and deep ball throwers I’ve ever scouted. No one throws a prettier, more accurate 15+ yard pass than Savage. He delivers passes on the money, in stride so receivers can get more from his throws. Savage is everything that Osweiler is not…including not a backup QB (anymore).
Here’s the thing… This is the reality of the NFL (and life) – Tom Savage should have been starting Week 1, and many people knew it.
The Texans paid $72M to a failed/mediocre Denver backup QB, who they never met with in person before offering a huge deal. All the while a better QB option sat on their roster (remember, after 1-2 decent games Brock was benched after a few poor ones…when the real Osweiler showed up). Oh, how the fans were delighted. Oh, how the media loved this signing of Osweiler. Not a one of them stuck up for Tom Savage. I did. Now, look who’s pushing me off my prime seat on the bandwagon this week…every football fan and football analyst.
I know I was right all along…you wanna know why? Mike Lombardi, former Pats GM and long-time NFL guy…and budding ‘insider’ in the football media now, was on Colin Cowherd Monday. (This next part is my paraphrasing from memory) When Colin said, “Do you think Savage is the better QB?” Lombardi smirked, “Of course he’s better.” When Colin circled back to it, Lombardi (who is connected to O’Brien and friends via their Pats’ connections) then said, “Savage was the better QB in the summer, and people in the know/behind the scenes in Houston would tell you that…that Savage was way better than Osweiler.”
The Texans made a massive mistake with Osweiler and they held back opportunity from Savage because of it. In my book, that makes everyone involved with that a bunch of unadulterated assholes. A screw job on Savage to protect their asses…and we see this all the time and more than we know. The NFL is worse than American politics, I swear. Teams are willing to put their team at a loss because of ‘payroll’ or ‘draft status’. Screw you NFL and cronyism and nepotism and general idiocy. Now, you know why I go insane…and you have a front row seat.
“Next man up” or “Do your job” or “We start the best players” – all you coaches do is lie to players, and you wonder why they don’t buy into your rah-rah ‘family’ nonsense. Why should Tom Savage trust anyone in Houston?
More on Savage’s play in a moment.
The Texans are now 8-6, and their season is likely to come down to their Week 17 trip to Tennessee. I didn’t really care before, but now I am a total Houston Savages fan. I want Savage to succeed to a level that they commit to him as their future. They’ve screwed him out of so much earning potential…now is his time to go for $72M (free agent in 2018)!!!
Gus Bradley was probably fired because of Tom Savage. Not because Savage came back and won the game…but was probably because all NFL people share the same brain, and thus they all think Savage is awful. How could we (the Jags) lose to a nothing QB like Tom Savage after a 13-0 lead in the 2nd quarter? Guess what Jacksonville morons? Not only was Tom Savage the best QB on the Texans roster this summer…he was also the best QB on the Jags roster too. You wouldn’t need to fire Gus Bradley if you had just listened to me the past 3-4-5 years.
— So, Savage enters the game down 13-0 and trims the lead to 20-11 Jags in the fourth quarter. Do note that the Savage comeback was down two scores in the 4th. As soon as Savage entered the game in th second quarter he started attacking through the air, just like he does…just like he’s done every preseason. DeAndre Hopkins (8-87-0/17 targets) had near season highs in catches and yards in a game (in 2.5 quarters of play with Savage), but consider that it was also against the 2nd best shutdown corner in the NFL (Jalen Ramsey) and it’s even more impressive…for Savage.
Either Savage was dumb or fearless because he went right at Ramsey, and was succeeding every other time. The thing is – Savage throws the ball so rapidly, with such velocity, that defenders cannot react fast enough to the ball. With Osweiler, they have all day to make a break on the ball, but with Savage, the ball is there in a nanosecond. It was a beautiful thing to behold. Savage probably pressed the issue too much against Ramsey, but he was more successful than not with it.
Down 20-14 with 8:31 left, Savage took the team 80-yards in five minutes to take the lead…a lead they’d never relinquish.
So what about Savage going forward? I think it’s his job to lose now. Osweiler is effectively done. He can’t come back from this. He’s Nick Foles in St. Louis…not welcome. Everything has turned against Osweiler. We all keep yapping about $72M, but really the Texans keep Osweiler as a backup in 2017 and then can cut him in 2018 for a $6M hit. He only had $37M guaranteed. It’s a two-year issue not a decade-long one.
Savage’s effect on the Texans’ offense for fantasy…
Stock way up for DeAndre Hopkins, obviously. A real QB who can make all the throws…and knows where his bread is buttered.
Will Fuller (4-42-0/8 targets) is a deep sleeper this week – I guarantee Savage is going to hit him for a 50+ yard TD Week 16 or 17.
Lamar Miller’s stock rises because teams will have to play back to defend against Savage.
Stock down to C.J. Fiedorowicz…or at least ‘wary’. I love CJF, but I think he was more ‘a thing’ with Osweiler’s limitations. Same for Ryan Griffin.
As far as the other non-Savage player notes from this game…
— Allen Robinson (2-15-0/8 targets) got A.J. Bouye’d this week. Another disaster for Robinson. The dark cloud of the schedule is finally lifted. You can trust ARob again this week vs. the Titans. He may be in for a very good week.
— DeAndre Hopkins had a very good game, but Jalen Ramsey (4 tackles, 5 PDs, 1 INT) was still awesome. Ramsey won most of the battles with Hopkins, including all the key red zone ones. He’s one of the 10 most influential/best players in the league, and is 10x better than Ezekiel Elliott…and will probably not get a R.O.Y. vote.
Rishard Matthews is toast Week 16 vs. Ramsey.
— What effect will Doug Marrone have on the Jags? He’ll probably run more to keep the ball out of Blake Bortles’ hands. I think Marrone has a chance at the Jags job, but my sources say this is Mike Smith’s gig for sure. If I am Marrone, I might consider doing my own version of what I just saw in Houston – I bench Bortles if he’s ineffective, mid-game, and run Brandon Allen out there. I’m telling you Allen was one of the better QB prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft…exponentially better than Bortles.
See if Brandon Allen gets activated for Week 16.