Fitzpatrick named Texans' starting QB

Fitzpatrick named Texans' starting QB
June 17, 2014, 12:45 pm
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(Jim Brown - USA Today Sports Images)

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the Texans’ new starting quarterback.

Head coach Bill O'Brien told the team about the decision to name Fitzpatrick the starter on Tuesday morning during the 8 a.m. meeting. Before telling the team, O'Brien sat Fitzpatrick down to tell him the news.

"Personally for me, this is kind of where I wanted to be," Fitzpatrick said. "I wanted another shot at it. I wanted another chance to be the guy."

O'Brien said they made the decision now so the team would know who the starter was for the mandatory camp and going into the summer before training camp. Fitzpatrick, 31, said he wasn’t surprised about the timing of the decision. Before the announcement, Fitzpatrick was the clear front-runner.

“He’s a guy that’s earned the job and the other three guys are working hard and battling it out for No. 2,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “All four of them have put in a lot of good work. But at the end of the day, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s our starter. He’s had a good offseason.”

It wasn’t a surprise that Fitzpatrick will be the team’s starter. The Texans signed him on March 20 and then quickly traded Matt Schaub the next day. The Harvard product is the most experienced quarterback on the roster and without drafting a quarterback in an early round, many thought Fitzpatrick would be the guy. Now he is. 

While many thought Fitzpatrick would win the quarterback competition, which O’Brien called “wide open” as recently as the first day of OTAs on May 27, the head coach made sure to say that Fitzpatrick wasn’t just handed the job.

“He earned it. He definitely earned it,” O’Brien said. “He earned it with his preparation. He earned it with his accuracy. He earned it with his command at the line of scrimmage.”

This will be Fitzpatrick's 10th year in the NFL and he's had a moderate level of success. His career record (with four teams) is 27-49-1 and he has a career completion percentage of 59.8 to go along with 106 touchdowns and 93 interceptions.

Fitzpatrick’s greatest asset this spring has been his experience. Outside of Andre Johnson and Shane Lechler, he’s the oldest and most experienced NFL player on the roster.

“I've said this quote before and it's the honest to God's truth, I have no idea how to evaluate quarterbacks; my job is to go get 'em,” J.J. Watt said. “I know Coach O'Brien is really good at quarterbacks and that, so he picked Fitz, so (we’re) all behind Fitz 100 percent headed forward with that and excited about it."

Going forward in the minicamp, Fitzpatrick will get the bulk of the reps. Those expanded reps will help his communication with the rest of the offense. Fitzpatrick said those extra reps are a “big thing” as he gets to build familiarity with the rest of the first-team offense.

Meanwhile Case Keenum, T.J. Yates and rookie fourth-rounder Tom Savage will battle for the backup role. Keenum and Yates both return from last season and Savage is the raw, strong-armed gunslinger from Pittsburgh.

“I think with all three of those guys we need just a little bit more consistency,” O’Brien said. “It has nothing to do with effort or work ethic. Those guys have all worked extremely hard. They’ve all done what we’ve asked them to do. They’re really good teammates. They’re fun guys to coach. I think at the end of the day, it just comes down to executing to the best of your ability every day.”

The Texans still have two more days of minicamp. Then, they break for about a month before training camp.