Mark Berman of MyFoxHouston.com reported the news:
Bill O'Brien officially names Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Texans starting quarterback.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) June 17, 2014
Following the announcement, Fitzpatrick spoke about the opportunity (via Dave Zangaro of CSN Houston, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle and Desmond Purnell of NFL Network):
"I think I'm excited about it. I don't think it changes much with the way I have to continue to attack." Ryan Fitzpatrick #Texans— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaro) June 17, 2014
Ryan Fitzpatrick on being The #Texans starting quarterback - "Now for me, it's really time for me to grab a hold of it and take command."— Desmond Purnell (@DesmondPurnell) June 17, 2014
Fitzpatrick also touched on Andre Johnson, who will be the quarterback's top target, assuming the wide receiver can work out his contract issues with the Texans (via James Palmer of CSN Houston):
“I don’t know Andre all that well.” - Ryan Fitzpatrick told me a few weeks ago he’s never thrown a pass to Johnson even in a private workout— James Palmer (@JPalmerCSN) June 17, 2014
Most assumed the Texans would draft a signal-caller in one of the first two rounds of the draft, particularly with a new head coach on board in Bill O'Brien, but the organization went in a different direction.
Houston waited until the fourth round to draft Tom Savage out of the University of Pittsburgh, and O'Brien decided to go with the experience of Fitzpatrick to start the 2014 season, per ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli:
"He earned it. He earned it with his preparation. He earned it with his accuracy." O'Brien says of Fitzpatrick. #Texans— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) June 17, 2014
In addition to Savage, Fitzpatrick beat out incumbent roster members Case Keenum and T.J. Yates, both of whom have served as starters for the Texans at various points over the past few seasons.
Although Fitzpatrick clearly has more NFL games under his belt than the rest of his competition, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport didn't expect the announcement:
That’s a surprise. Probably good news tho RT @HoustonTexans: "He's a guy that earned the job." O'Brien names Ryan Fitzpatrick starting QB.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 17, 2014
Fitzpatrick has been an NFL starter for the better part of the past six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans. He started 53 games over four seasons with the Bills and racked up 3,832 passing yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011. In 2012, he passed for 3,400 yards and another 24 touchdowns.
Who is the best option to start at QB for the Texans in 2014?
However, Buffalo decided to go in a different direction by drafting EJ Manuel last year, which sent Fitzpatrick to Tennessee. Injuries to Titans starter Jake Locker forced Fitzpatrick into action, and he proceeded to turn in some up-and-down performances.
The 31-year-old Harvard graduate is a competent quarterback who has shown flashes over the years, but he isn't a long-term answer by any means. With that said, he is almost certainly the best option on Houston's roster.
The Texans decided to build talent at other positions by selecting pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, and they have set themselves up to potentially take a quarterback early next year.
Fitzpatrick should be a solid caretaker until then and could even help Houston contend for a playoff spot if the pieces around him excel.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter