O’Brien set to re-create Pats 2011 QB room…almost

TexansReports early Monday morning, one day before NFL free agency officially opens, have the Texans turning their quarterback room into the Patriots quarterback room circa 2011. In that room was rookie Ryan Mallett, third year veteran Brian Hoyer, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Bill O’Brien and offensive assistant George Godsey. The Patriots went 13-3 and went to the Super Bowl that season. They will all be in the Texans room this season.

Oh, wait, did I forget to mention Tom Brady was in that room, too. Yeah, those four guys watched Brady throw for a career high 5,235 yards and lead the Pats to a Super Bowl as a 34-year old, 11-year starter.

The Texans have reportedly agreed to terms on a 2-year deal with Ryan Mallett, worth $7 million total (via ESPN’s Tania Ganguli) and very little of it guaranteed. They have also reportedly agreed to a deal with Brian Hoyer, believed to be a three-year deal, though nothing can be official on that until Tuesday and Hoyer could still be exploring other options. Hoyer started 16 games over the last two seasons in Cleveland, while Mallett made his only two career starts this past season with Houston.

Hoyer was benched last season in favor of rookie Johnny Manziel in Cleveland after making 13 starts and helping the Browns to a 7-6 record. The Browns were still in the playoff chase, but Hoyer had been terrible in his last five starts, a run that started with his miserably inaccurate performance against the Texans. He missed on 30 of 50 passes and threw a touchdown and an interception as the Texans easily beat the Browns, 23-7.

Ironically, that win came in Mallett’s first ever start in the NFL. Unfortunately for Mallett, he was hurt and played poorly in his following start and then had season-ending surgery for a torn pec muscle.

Back to Hoyer though. In those five starts that led to his removal as the starter, he threw nine interceptions and completed less than half of his passes. The year prior, he had won all three of his starts for Cleveland and played well to start 2014 as their starter. But he tailed off badly after that and the numbers are not pretty.

Hoyer last 2 seasons as starter:
First 6 games: 118-191 (61.8%), 1331 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT, 90.01 passer rating (would’ve ranked 17th).
Last 10 games: 174-330, (52.7%), 2476 yards, 8 TD, 12 INT, 70.21 passer rating (would’ve ranked 32nd of 33. Only ahead of rookie Blake Bortles (69.5)).

The Browns have acknowledged that Manziel was unprepared and not ready to play, but Hoyer was playing at such a poor level, they made the switch anyway.

Both Hoyer and Mallett spent the first three seasons of their careers as a backup in New England behind Brady. They spent just the 2011 season together with O’Brien as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, though Hoyer was with O’Brien for an additional two years in New England when O’Brien was only the QB coach the prior two seasons. Hoyer threw 43 passes over three seasons sharing a sideline with O’Brien, none as a starter. Mallett’s two starts obviously came with O’Brien as his head coach this past season.

Hoyer’s QBR last season was 43.1, which ranked 23rd in the NFL. Houston’s four quarterbacks combined for a 49.1 QBR, which would have occupied the spot right in front of Hoyer. Mallett’s lone healthy start last season generated an 81.7 QBR, the 4th-best performance of that week, but a one-game sample does little to shed any much meaningful light on his long-term future.

Is a sample size of 16 games a more significant indicator of future performance? That’s the real question. Is Hoyer an unknown, like Mallett, or at age 30, which Hoyer will turn during the 2015 season, is there enough on field work to suggest, he is not a quality NFL starter?

Put me down for that assessment. As noted in the numbers above and after watching game after game where Hoyer’s accuracy was laughable, there’s not much of a reason to believe re-uniting with O’Brien will turn him into even a top-half of the league performer. After being released just prior to the 2012 season by New England, Hoyer went unsigned until he was signed in late November by the Steelers, he didn’t appear in a game, before being released in early December. He was claimed on waivers by Arizona and would up starting their season finale. He was then released in May of the following offseason, before joining the Browns.

Again, nothing could be finalized with Hoyer until Tuesday when free agency officially begins and players can sign with new teams. Hoyer saw the writing on the wall in Cleveland when Manziel was drafted and then with Manziel not even putting in much effort to unseat, still played badly enough that the Browns felt they had no choice but to remove him.

21 quarterbacks have started games for the Browns over the last 15 seasons. 20 of them have losing records. The lone winner of the group? Yes, Hoyer. The hapless Browns actually managed to win 10 of Hoyer’s 16 career starts. And they still didn’t want him around.

Now the biggest concern for the Texans is if in fact the two are in Houston battling for the starting job – what if Hoyer wins it?

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