Bill O'Brien has authored three straight nine-win seasons in Houston without any hint of a legitimate signal-caller.
Once billed as a quarterback whisperer, the Texans coach has struggled to develop a franchise arm, which comes as no surprise when you examine the laundry list of milquetoast talent throwing the ball during O'Brien's tenure.
Less than a week into training camp, has O'Brien finally found an answer? His enthusiasm for first-round quarterback Deshaun Watson appears to grow with each practice.
"Deshaun is ahead of any rookie quarterback I've ever been around," O'Brien said Tuesday following the team's latest camp session.
We're a long way from June, when the Texans coach tempered expectations by saying Watson -- mired in a battle with Savage -- was "not nearly where he needs to be to be a full-time starter."
If there's reason for suspicion, it comes from O'Brien himself. After all, this is the same coach who infamously gushed over Hoyer and Mallett -- a couple of JAGs -- during a troubling scene from Hard Knocks two summers ago.
O'Brien isn't alone, though, with longtime Houston beat writer John McClain comparing Watson to an iconic Hall of Famer:
Still, O'Brien hoisting up Watson begs the question: How many rookie quarterbacks has the coach been around? The list is brief, led by Savage in Houston and Matt Gutierrez, Kevin O'Connell, Zac Robinson, Mallett and Hoyer with the Patriots. Not exactly a feast for the gods.
1. He must be a senior, because you need time and maturity to develop into a good professional quarterback.
2. He must be a graduate, because you want someone who takes his responsibilities seriously.
3. He must be a three-year starter, because you need to make sure his success wasn't ephemeral and that he has lived as "the guy" for some period of time.
4. He must have at least 23 wins, because the big passing numbers must come in the context of winning games.
Watson passes every test save for leaving school after his junior season. Should he be dinged for that decision when he was motivated enough to graduate with a degree in communications after just three years at Clemson?
His NFL future is hazy, but Watson is off to a solid start. Let's see where we are when the real games begin.
Here's what else we learned from Tuesday's training camp action:
- Tensions bubbled over in a smattering of NFL cities. Let's start in New England where wideout Julian Edelman and cornerback Stephon Gilmore were tossed from practice after a brief scuffle. Maintaining a zero-tolerance policy on fights, coach Bill Belichick immediately hit the ejector seat on both players following the fisticuffs.
Paul Dehner of The Cincinnati Enquirer summed it up appropriately:
- Back to Mallett, who dangerously imploded during a Friday-into-Saturday practice performance that saw him toss an ungodly seven picks, prompting Ravens pass rusher Terrell Suggs to openly mock his teammate. Mallett has been a flowering disaster in camp, and can't be bothered with the prospect of Colin Kaepernick joining the team: "If he comes, cool. If he doesn't, cool. We don't really care about that right now."
This Mallett guy's something special.
- Asked to unpack his desire for a Super Bowl, 39-year-old Vikings defensive back Terence Newman paralleled his quest to the world of romance. "Hot babes in college," Newman said. "You might get eye contact, maybe a smile and then never hear from her again, right? So I'm chasing this hot babe known as the Lombardi Trophy."
- The Seahawks furnished safety Kam Chancellor with a three-year, $36 million deal packed with $25 million guaranteed. Entering the final season of a five-year pact he signed in 2013, Seattle's hard-hitting backstop is now on the books through 2020 and set to potentially finish his career with the team that drafted him back in 2010.
- Left tackles keep vanishing on us. One day after Branden Albert called it quits, 30-year-old bookend Ryan Clady announced his desire to walk away from the game after seven seasons with the Broncos and one with the Jets. Draped with multiple Pro Bowls and All-Pro mentions during his career, Clady in his prime was one of the best left tackles around.