The Houston Texans believe they have the pieces to win a Super Bowl. They have the defense, they have the quarterback, and they have the skill-position talent to compete with anyone.
But if they can’t beat the Patriots and their third-string quarterback Thursday night, they may want to rethink their goals for this season.
“If indeed (Texas loses) tonight, that’s got to be as demoralizing a defeat as they could possible imagine,” NFL on CBS analyst Trent Green said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Brock Osweiler, when he was in Denver, had that big win over New England. So he has some experience going against that defense. Hopefully that will carry over. He’s played in enough game by now. He’s not going to have that nervousness.”
While Osweiler is still getting his feet wet in Houston, Jacoby Brissett is still getting acclimated to the NFL. If not for a suspension to Tom Brady and a shoulder injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, Brissett would be next to Bill Belichick holding a clipboard.
Instead, he’ll be the starting quarterback on Thursday Night Football.
Brissett, to his credit, looked calm when he was called to duty this past Sunday, going 6-of-9 for 92 yards in a 31-24 win over Miami.
“I saw someone out on the field that really maintained their composure,” said Green, who called last week’s Patriots/Dolphins game. “The moment wasn’t too big for him. When he went in, he didn’t have big saucer eyes and (he wasn’t) nervous (or) having trouble with the snap count (or) guys jumping offsides because his rhythm was out of cadence. I didn’t see any of that. It seemed like it was business as usual other than the fact that they weren’t really asking him to do a lot other than manage the thing and not turn the ball over and use up the clock – and that’s what he did. (But) trying to get up to speed in a short amount of time is a tough task.”
Brissett, even if he plays well Thursday, obviously wouldn’t take Brady’s spot under center, nor would he surpass a healthy Garoppolo on the death chart. After all, Garoppolo has completed 71.2 percent of his passes for 494 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Green, for one, would be comfortable naming Garoppolo the heir apparent to Brady.
“I saw enough,” Green said. “I was with him for a short amount of time and being around him, seeing how he carries himself, seeing how his teammates reacted to him, how he interacted with his teammates on the sideline – (it was impressive). Jimmy came in and was a hard worker. He had a good work ethic and a good design of how he wanted to prepare and get himself ready, but he learned so much being behind Tom Brady and seeing the work that Tom puts in, not only (from a) physical standpoint, but (from a) mental standpoint and the preparation standpoint. It’s really made him that much better of a player.”
Garoppolo, a second-round pick in 2014, played sparingly in each of his first two seasons before being thrust into the starting job due to Brady’s suspension. If his two-game sample size is any indication, Garoppolo’s time on the sideline paid off – just as it did for Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer and other quarterbacks who didn’t play at the beginning of their careers.
“There is an advantage to sitting and waiting and watching, and I think Jimmy’s taking full advantage of it,” Green said. “I know Tom has come out publicly and said (he wants) to play into (his mid-40s) and physically it looks like he can at this point in time. But when that drop-off hits, it happens party rapidly. So it’ll be interesting to see how long he plays and how long the Patriots think he can play – because that will determine whether or not they attempt to try to keep Garoppolo underneath the New England banner.”