We Want Mallett
By Emin Avakian
Not to pat myself on the back, but....oh, who am I kidding? This is me patting myself on the back, everybody. Here's what I wrote on December 3, 2013--during the previous NFL season, which, if you remember, was a nightmare for the Houston Texans, partly due to its influx at the quarterback position. Needless to say, the free agency period, trade rumors and the NFL draft were months away:
"Quite possibly the most notable and most anticipated backup quarterback in the NFL, Ryan Mallet has completed one pass since being drafted in 2011. But in that same time, he has watched and studied from the sidelines as one of the all-time greats has served as his mentor. Similar to Aaron Rodgers taking the reigns from Favre, Mallet seems to be ready, only Tom Brady isn't retiring any time soon. Assuming Mallet does not want to wait another 3-4 years, and assuming teams like the Texans want to jump on him via free agency or trade, then he'll finally get the chance to showcase his skills. The 6-foot-6 quarterback was born in Texas--hours away from Reliant Stadium. Being the savior of one of his state's professional football teams would be quite a story."
Fast forward to mid-March, better known as an exciting time for all 32 front offices, and lo and behold, the Texans are said to be interested in...drum roll, please...Ryan Mallet! Now, I'm not egotistical nor am I arrogant to believe that I was the only one to predict Mallet would be a good fit for the Texans, but I believe today as much as I did on December 3 that he's an available option they should really look into.
This week, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported that there’s not even any reason to talk about it. McClain said that the Texans "won't be trading for Ryan Mallet." With all due to respect to Mr. McClain, I'm going to find a reason to talk about it. This is football.com, after all.
Again, like I mentioned in that shameless paragraph that is going to be published for a second time, Mallet has completed one pass on four attempts in three seasons in New England. His career, if you will, is four games, and he didn't start any of them. Not to pile on, but that's four more attempts than Johnny Manziel has started in the NFL. We all know his statistics aren't impressing teams, so what's the attraction? Why would the Texans entertain the idea of trading their second-round draft pick for the unproven 25-year-old to be the team's savior? Let's drift deeper.
I'm not going to pretend to delve into the minds of Rick Smith, Bob McNair and Bill O'Brien, but as a fan, I like Mallet's moxie and the way he carried himself--even if that conclusion stems up seeing the guy holding a clipboard or advising Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the huddle on the sideline during a timeout.
It doesn't hurt that O'Brien was the Patriots offensive coordinator in 2011, when Mallett threw up a 108.2 passer rating on 19 attempts in his first preseason game.
Mallet, of course, has shown success at the college level, and he has played in meaningful games during his playing career. If he hadn't, the Patriots wouldn't have drafted him in the third round--the highest pick they used on a quarterback since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. He started 29 games in his college career--26 at Arkansas where he matched or broke 16 school records in 2009 en route 30 touchdowns. He improved his completion percentage, increased his touchdown count to 32 and threw for more yards the next season, his last as a Razorback.
So, who's it going to be? Mallet? Manziel? Bortles? Bridgewater? Keenum? None of the above? I don't think the Texans' brass knows at this point. There's no arguing that Mallet is the most experienced in that group. Yes, more experienced than Keenum. Mallet has seen defeat in a Superbowl, has learned from one of the all-time great quarterbacks and one of the all-time great football mind. He has honed his craft and presumably, he's finally ready to drop the clipboard.