Somehow, the 2014 Texans, at least through one preseason game, are worse than the 2013 version that went 2-14 and easily could have gone 0-16. The faces have changed since last season; coach Bill O'Brien has replaced Gary Kubiak and Matt Schaub's role as the bumbling veteran quarterback has been expertly reprised by Ryan Fitzpatrick.
If the debut for both coach and QB could have gone worse, we're not sure how it would have happened. When the game was over, the Cardinals had blanked the Texans 32-0, and Fitzpatrick had gone 6 of 14 for 55 yards and two interceptions in a half of mostly forgettable football.
Afterwards, O'Brien didn't even try to sugarcoat the effort.
OBrien called Texans performance "terrible"— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) August 10, 2014
OBrien "It's unacceptable to play like we did."— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) August 10, 2014
Fitzpatrick, who finished with a 14.6 passer rating, took responsibility for the poor showing.
“Definitely not what we wanted and me personally,” the 31-year-old quarterback said, via the Houston Chronicle. “We wanted to have a clean game, limit the penalties and the turnovers, and obviously that didn't happen. We just had a hard time getting in a groove out there. ...
“I'm disappointed in myself, the way I played, the final score and the way that everything turned out,” Fitzpatrick continued, adding: “There's disappointment in the locker room, but I think there also needs to be perspective. We each need to keep working, keep working and we'll have better results the next few weeks.”
And that is worth remembering; it's one preseason game. The problem:
The Texans were awful in 2013 and it's not like they went into the offseason one or two players away from returning to playoff form. Which brings us back to the quarterback situation.
It was in everyone's best interest to move on from Schaub, but to name Fitzpatrick the starter before training camp doesn't really solve the problem. According to Football Outsiders, Fitzpatrick ranked 20th in total QB value last season while Schaub ranked 34th. Put another way: The Texans traded one of the league's worst passers for one who wasn't much better.
Of course, Fitzpatrick's performance coupled with Johnny Manziel's debut led some fans to wonder if the Texans would regret not taking Johnny Football with the first overall pick. As we noted Saturday night, yes, Fitzpatrick was atrocious. But there's no way the Texans were taking Manziel No. 1.
It's reminiscent of 2006, when some fans wanted Vince Young and the Texans' front office took Mario Williams. It was the right decision then. Whether Jadeveon Clowney has a better NFL career than Manziel remains to be seen but let's not rewrite history after one shaky showing from Fitzpatrick.
“We're all in this together,” O'Brien said after the game, probably because he's the guy who gave Fitzpatrick the keys to the offense. “As a team, nobody played well. Nobody coached well. It was bad football.”
And if you think rookie Tom Savage might be the long-term answer, well, we've got some bad news for you.