New Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is looking for someone as much like Tom Brady as possible when it comes to the team's new quarterback. Of course, that's what every team looks for, but there is one aspect of Brady that O'Brien particularly liked.
As noted by Peter King in the Monday Morning Quarterback column, O'Brien said, "When you coach Tom Brady, you're not coaching with him; you're a partner in the offense with him." O'Brien went on to say that Brady "never stopped thinking about football," and that the ideal for a quarterback is "someone who cares about it as much as you do."
Many of Houston's issues this past season can be attributed to poor quarterback play. Matt Schaub had nine interceptions in five games before he was benched, and had multiple interceptions returned for touchdowns. Schaub finished his season with 14 interceptions. Case Keenum eventually took over, but had a completion percentage of just 54.2 and also had six interceptions..
The Texans finished the season at 2-14, possibly the biggest surprise of 2014 given that they were expected to compete for the division and be a force in the playoffs.
Schaub and Keenum are not the answers at this point, and it would be surprising to see either of them even remotely in the discussion going forward. Houston has the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and it's very likely the Texans find their man at that spot, or at some point early in the draft after trading down.
But what kind of quarterback will O'Brien go for? The Texans will likely employ a similar system to what the Patriots ran under O'Brien in 2011 and what O'Brien ran at Penn State. It's a fast, aggressive offense that makes use of multiple quarterbacks. It's always changing, there's a lot of calls to be made and that's why O'Brien needs a smart, dedicated quarterback.
There are three quarterbacks who are clearly ahead of the others come draft day: Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel.
Bridgewater is essentially the consensus top quarterback. He's got a very good pocket presence and has the mobility if he has to go outside. He has strong accuracy from the pocket and is solid in his judgment. He would fit well in plenty of systems at this point.
Manziel right now seems to be more of a scrambling quarterback who throws better on the run than from the pocket. He's not really a good fit for O'Brien's offense. Bortles is an intriguing option after he led Central Florida to a 34-31 victory over O'Brien's Penn State this season.
Many have suggested that getting someone other than Bridgewater would necessitate a trade down. It's worth noting, however, that O'Brien's primary focus will be acquiring a quarterback. If there's a guy who is reasonably expected to go in the first round or so that O'Brien falls in love with, then spending the first overall pick on him is not out of the question.
A coach like O'Brien is very particular, and if he thinks he's found his man, then is spending a first-round pick really overpaying? After all, it's hard to overpay for a player you believe will be your franchise quarterback and your ticket to prolonged success in the NFL. It wouldn't be surprising at all for him to have the kind of determination to find his man even if it means spending such a high price.
Will that guy be the next Tom Brady? Probably not, but O'Brien probably won't roll the dice unless he thinks there's a chance.