By Jay Betsill
After falling 31-21 at home to the Philadelphia Eagles and dropping under .500, the time has come for change in Houston and Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is turning to Ryan Mallett. Since the team is 4-5 and while running back Arian Foster is in the midst of a great season with 161 carries for 822 yards and seven touchdowns, the passing game behind quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is ranked 28th at 209.7 yards per game.
“Watching Ryan (Mallett) in practice every day, I believe it’s gotten better and better,” O’Brien announced on Wednesday. “His huddle command, his knowledge of the offense, he’s been in this system for four years …I think he’s made a lot of progress whereas he’s never played in a game or hasn’t had many reps in a game. We’re going to give him his shot to play.”
Mallett, a 2011 third-round draft pick who spent his first three seasons as Tom Brady’s backup in New England, was acquired by Houston in September for a conditional sixth-round pick. Mallett will take the reigns from veteran Fitzpatrick, who has thrown 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions in the first nine games of the season after signing as a free agent from the Tennessee Titans.
“I didn’t like it,” Fitzpatrick told the assembled media. “I don’t really agree with it but I respect the hell out of Coach O’Brien as a coach. It’s a hard thing, especially with me at this point in my career, it’s a hard thing to have to sit and have to take a backseat…Probably the toughest pill to swallow is I’m a competitor,” Fitzpatrick said. “The other aspect of it, too, is having someone like Coach O’Brien bring me in and me not meeting the expectations of what he wanted for me.”
The Texans are on their bye week and will go on the road to face the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on Nov. 16th.