While we are reading between the lines here, the combustible relationship between Osweiler and Texans coach Bill O’Brien has been widely suggested in reports dating back to last season. Pro Football Talk reported last month that a Week 17 altercation between Osweiler and O’Brien occurred at halftime.
Savage’s comment Monday alludes to the fractured relationship and blowups between Osweiler and O’Brien disrupting the quarterback room. With Brock bounced, the current signal-caller apparently has no issues with the fiery coach.
The Texans boasted one of the fiercest defensive fronts in the NFL last season and will get J.J. Watt back after missing most of last year. The pass rush might be unblockable, but replacing defections from a stingy secondary — A.J. Bouye, Quintin Demps — will be challenging.
“Yeah, that’s the NFL,” Cushing said. “That’s just how it goes. It’s next man up. Unfortunately, you can’t keep everybody on your team. As much as you would like to keep your core guys together, it doesn’t work that way…”
“I was fortunate to go down to Clemson two years ago and watch spring practice with Dabo (Swinney) and cheap jerseys and Deshaun because he was injured, and I got to stand next to them and he took every single rep seriously even though he wasn’t in. He knew every play,” said Shaw, who also serves as a guest draft analyst for NFL Network. “(He) relayed every single play to Dabo. Evaluated the quarterback on every single play. He should’ve done this, should’ve done that. It was like watching a coach, and this kid just finished his freshman year. (Swinney) kept telling me, this guy’s special. I spent a day around him, and there’s a presence you can’t fake.”
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft, started as a rookie and has passed for more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons. If Watson’s presence sells in the Texans locker room the way Winston’s did in Tampa Bay, his competition with Savage will get some early momentum. Like any other quarterback, he’ll have to put the ball in the end zone to maintain the kind of support Winston has had, but makeup and leadership shouldn’t be an issue.
The sixth-round pick in 2013 out of San Jose State, hasn’t played in a regular-season NFL game. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2014 and has battled the ups and downs since.
It’s uncertain whether the 26-year-old will attempt an NFL return — he remains on the Texans roster after spending last season on the non-football illness list. Whether or not Quessenberry decides to battle for an NFL job, he’s already won a major fight.
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While we are skeptical of Savage’s ability to lead a playoff-ready team deep into the postseason, O’Brien believes the former fourth-round pick has the talent and confidence, if he can stay healthy.
“I believe he can,” the coach said. “Now look, I think the thing about the injury question, that’s a tough question for any coach to answer. Ultimately he knows what he needs to do to stay healthy. He’s a smart guy. He’s actually worked very hard to change his body in the years that he’s been with us. He’s gotten stronger and in better shape, more flexible. But you know, when he plays the game maybe he needs to do things a little bit smarter with the experience that he has now, to stay healthy for 16 games.”
Sporting an easy, natural throwing motion with a stronger arm and a softer touch, Savage re-opened possibilities outside the numbers and down the field.
Whereas Osweiler had left those all-important areas abandoned in favor of a compressed, tight end-centric aerial attack that rarely challenged opposing defenses, Savage finally unlocked Pro Bowl wideout DeAndre Hopkins’ potential while incorporating speedy rookies Will Fuller and Wendall Williams on deep balls.