The Houston Texans badly need quarterback help after Deshaun Watson’s season-ending knee injury last week. They have Tom Savage, who drove them to only one touchdown in Sunday’s 20-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, along with recently signed Matt McGloin and T.J. Yates, but those names don’t exactly inspire confidence.
Leading fans and the media to mention one name: Colin Kaepernick.
“Sign Colin Kaepernick,” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said Sunday night, per the Houston Chronicle. “You don’t have good quarterback play. When you have a mobile quarterback, your offense looks different. There is a mobile quarterback out there to get.”
Added former safety Rodney Harrison: “Sign Colin Kaepernick — he gives you a great opportunity. Very similar to what Deshaun Watson is.”
The former San Francisco 49ers starter still is looking for a job, and the Texans must consider many factors — including the fact that he has been away from football all season. Still, Kaepernick’s track record shows he could offer Houston a major upgrade from Savage and potentially push the team into the playoffs if he’s ready to perform right away. For fantasy football players, Kaepernick has a better chance to match Watson’s daily production.
Kaepernick would seem to be a better fit for Houston’s offense since he’s a more mobile quarterback than Savage and could bring the same big-play ability that Watson showcased before his injury. In fact, Watson averaged 38.4 rushing yards per game — 5.1 more than Kaepernick’s career mark. Savage, on the other hand, has just six yards on 12 career carries, and it’s no secret the Texans’ offense flourished when Watson’s legs threatened opposing defenses and opened his receivers’ routes (the rookie had 1,699 passing yards, 19 TD passes and eight picks in his seven games).
In place of Watson, Savage ranked 20th out of 24 starting QBs in Week 9, when he failed to record even one rush attempt and completed just 19 of 44 passes (43 percent) for 219 yards and one touchdown. He also dropped the ball both figuratively and literally in crunch time, throwing three incomplete passes from the Colts’ 7-yard line before being strip-sacked on the game’s final play.
It was the latest underwhelming performance from Savage, a fourth-round draft pick who’s in his fourth NFL season but doesn’t seem to be trending in the right direction. He might improve as the season goes on — Sunday was just his fourth NFL start — but the Texans’ formula for success on offense can’t rely on him attempting 40-plus throws, as he did against the Colts.
Comparing Savage’s numbers to Kaepernick’s isn’t even close, either, even if the latter has played for such a longer period of time. Kaepernick played in 69 games (with 58 starts) over six seasons in San Francisco, and threw 72 TD passes with 30 interceptions. His career passer rating is 88.9, and he has a 59.8 completion percentage — Savage sits at 71.9 and 55.0, respectively, in both categories.
Kaepernick’s success in 2012 (when he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl), 2013 and 2014 certainly bring up his numbers, but even his most recent stats are significantly better than Savage’s. Kaepernick threw for 16 TDs and ran for two more in 2016. He also completed 59.2 percent of his passes and posted a 90.7 rating.
In each of his first six starts last season, Kaepernick posted at least 16 DraftKings points per game and averaged 23.65 fantasy points per game. And in the 10 games in which he attempted at least 20 passes, Kaepernick averaged 21.1 fantasy points per game — that level of production would make him the eighth-best QB this season, just ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, and just behind Kirk Cousins. So from a fantasy perspective, Kaepernick would be a much more attractive play than Savage and also give an upgrade to all of Houston’s skill-position players.
Kaepernick put up his solid 2016 numbers throwing to Jeremy Kerley, Quinton Patton and Shaun Draughn, so he’d get a significant upgrade working with wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V and running back Lamar Miller. Those options in the passing game are similar to what Kaepernick worked with in his 2012 Super Bowl season, when receivers Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss and running back Frank Gore all were options for the then-49ers QB, along with tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker.
The Texans enter Week 10 with a 3-5 record, two games out of an AFC wild-card spot and/or the division lead. And while coach Bill O’Brien admitted Monday that the team has discussed Kaepernick, it sounds as if Savage will remain under center, potentially putting Houston’s postseason hopes in peril.
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