At one point in time this past weekend a stadium full of people, while present for an NFL Playoff Game, chanted for Brandon Weeden to come in and save the day for the Houston Texans.
That’s how bad things can be in the game of football. Without a reliable quarterback you have no shot – that’s just the way it works.
At the end of the drubbing that the Chiefs put on the Texans I gave a lot of thought to the upcoming draft for the Dallas Cowboys. I don’t want us to ever be in the quarterback purgatory that Houston has placed their permanent home in.
Watching Brian Hoyer throw interception after interception, seeing the look of frustration on all 16 Texans fans, hearing them beg and plead for Brandon Weeden… as a Dallas Cowboys fan you couldn’t help but be thankful for the strong sense of reliability that we’ve had at the all-important quarterback position, save for 2015 obviously.
I say “save for 2015 obviously” because it’s no secret how the Dallas Cowboys rotation of quarterbacks this season was a carousel of clumsiness and ineptitude. A tradition of iconic moments at the quarterback position was replaced by broken clavicles, interceptions, and palpable frustration.
The members of Cowboys Nation left their seats at the 2015 table with three inescapable truths: Tony Romo is our MVP, his health and longevity are now seriously in question, and we were nowhere near even kind of close to being prepared in terms of quarterback depth.
My fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin pounded on that very table yesterday here at Inside The Star about how the 4th Overall Pick, which the Cowboys have in the 2016 NFL Draft, is a resource that must be devoted to righting those wrongs. You can read Sean’s argument here.
Let’s pause for a minute and go back to the Houston Texans.
The new doormat for the Kansas City Chiefs and the 2015 Dallas Cowboys actually have a lot in common. They both had sub-par play at the quarterback position and were both carried by strong defenses. Obviously the Cowboys lost Tony Romo, but how did the Texans find themselves in such a precarious situation?
We’ll rewind this thing a little bit more. In 2012 the Texans won their division and a playoff game… a lot like the 2014 Dallas Cowboys.
In 2013 the Texans had a catastrophic season and wound up with a high, number one overall, draft pick… a lot like the 2015 Dallas Cowboys.
The whole “at least we have a high draft pick to get back on track with” song was sang by the Texans entering the 2014 NFL Draft. Sound familiar?
With some high-name prospects at quarterback, and a serious need at the position, Houston declined to get a new signal caller and went with famed pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney out of South Carolina.
Many people questioned Houston’s dismissal of a new signal caller, especially with in-state hero Johnny Manziel available for the picking. Johnny, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and one other QB were all options that the Texans declined; however, it was the right strategy.
Houston felt that there wasn’t a once-in-a-generation type talent at quarterback (think Andrew Luck in 2012) so they decided to capitalize on their strength. The Texans already had a Defensive Player Of The Year in their stud pass rusher JJ Watt (who would go on to win it again in 2014), so they decided to strengthen their strength with the addition of Clowney.
Enough chatter about the beleaguered Texans, let’s talk about that other quarterback they let slip through their fingers. His name is Derek Carr and his older brother, David, was actually the first ever draft pick by the Texans all the way back in 2002.
Derek Carr was the second pick by the Oakland Raiders in that 2014 Draft. Their first selection was a pass rusher by the name of Khalil Mack who made history last week when he was named as an All-Pro at two positions! After taking a quarterback for their defense in Mack the Raiders took an actual quarterback in Carr – who Houston passed on again in the second round, mind you.
Carr and Mack have become cornerstones for the revamped Raiders franchise. Oakland was competitive for a substantial amount of an NFL season for the first time in what feels like forever… and that can largely be attributed to how strongly they hit in the 2014 Draft. They did what Houston had the opportunity to do had Clowney already developed and they’d taken a quarterback a little earlier. Houston’s logic worked… just for another team.
Carr was the fourth quarterback taken in 2014 (Bortles, Manziel, and Bridgewater all went in the first) and for what it’s worth Houston took the seventh one, Pitt’s Tom Savage, in the fourth round. Savage hasn’t amounted to much in two seasons while Carr has blossomed.
Alright RJ… I stuck with you long enough. What exactly are you trying to say?
While the Texans, seem to have, missed on Clowney… the logic behind the pick was sound. I just hyped up Derek Carr, but has he set the world on fire yet? Have any of the 2014 quarterbacks? Nope.
The Texans could still have something in Clowney, the Raiders definitely have something in Mack, and both of those players were taken by their respective teams before they addressed the quarterback position. And that’s because neither of them had Tony Romo on their team!
It’s difficult for all of us to acknowledge that Tony Romo probably won’t play all 16 games in a season ever again, but we’re planning on him at least playing a majority aren’t we?
Why are we about to devote the 4th Overall Pick on a quarterback when we have one who we’re planning on playing a majority of the season and there are other highly skilled players at positions who will contribute across the whole season?
There is undeniably a need for quarterback depth, but are we really going to sacrifice the #4 in the name of it? If your rebuttal is about some guy who has great vision, pocket awareness, and arm strength… well didn’t Bortles, Manziel, Bridgewater, Carr, or any other top prospect in the history of the NFL? There are no guarantees in football.
The front office absolutely has to address the need at quarterback. That can happen via free agency or even the Draft itself! I’m not saying that it can’t.
What I’m saying is that there is a Jadeveon Clowney or a Khalil Mack out there who can come in and contribute significantly right now. Not to mention that the odds of a successful draft pick are higher for non-quarterback positions, but that’s a topic for another day.
I understand that we have to prepare for the future and the post-Romo era, but what good is planning for the future if we’re sacrificing the present?
There’s a delicate balance that we have to find, and it’s certainly not easy. We need to capitalize on our strengths in 2016 (like Houston tried to do with Clowney) with the 4th Overall Pick, but we also need to get our quarterback before it’s too late (like they failed to do in the same draft with Derek Carr).
Considering that we have Tony Romo for next season, at whatever length we do, that buys us time that Houston didn’t have in 2014. We can’t take that for advantage and take this season’s Tom Savage, we have to learn from their mistake and take this season’s Derek Carr.
The 4th Overall Pick isn’t a luxury. Using it on a quarterback, or for that matter any player who you aren’t planning on using every game of the season, is treating it like one. Think about it… What player have you EVER seen taken in the Top 5 who’s team didn’t intend on using all 16 games? You can’t because that’s ridiculous.
There are a lot of players in this upcoming Draft that I really like, and a lot of them are quarterbacks. But we don’t have to take one at #4 just for the sake of taking one.
Best player available. It’s a tale as old as time. Let’s live it.