Back in 2002, the NFL officially expanded to 32 teams when the Houston Texans joined the fold. The Texans replaced the Oilers, who now play in Nashville as the Tennessee Titans. It was exciting for a lot of the folks in Texas that missed pro football, but didn’t want to root for the Cowboys. Despite being thrown into the fire with little help on the expansion front, the Texans have had some decent success after riding out the storm early.
Since 2011, the Texans have won four AFC South championships, and the future looks bright with a solid overall defense that includes J.J. Watt and JaDeveon Clowney. With all of the defensive stars that they have had, one position that has always seemed to elude Houston is at quarterback. In 15 seasons, the Texans have trotted out 14 different quarterbacks, starting with David Carr, the team’s first ever draft selection.
Where does Carr rank among the 14 quarterbacks? We take a look at every QB that has started at least one game for the Texans and rank them from worst to first. We don’t take their overall careers into consideration, instead focusing on their time with Houston. Here is our list.
14 Dave Ragone
The current quarterbacks coach for the Chicago Bears was once a project that the Texans selected out of Louisville in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Dave Ragone was meant to be the backup to David Carr, though he would end up getting two starts during his rookie season. Ragone never stood a chance as he took on the Jaguars and Buccaneers in his two starts, losing both by a combined 3-43 score.
Over the course of those two games, Ragone threw for a total of just 135 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. The Texans offensive line was notoriously bad back then, and Ragone found out first hand when he was sacked eight times. Ragone then bounced around the league on practice squads, but never made another NFL start after leaving Houston.
13 Matt Leinart
One of the most celebrated college players in recent memory, 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart was drafted 10th overall by the Cardinals in 2006. Leinart would promptly become a huge bust and was kicked out of Arizona after the 2009 season. The Texans then brought him in, and Leinart would end up riding the bench for two seasons. He was called into action twice over those two years, making one start.
Leinart got all of his statistics in the one game he started, and it wasn’t pretty. Leinart finished his Texans career with just 57 yards and one touchdown (no interceptions) on 13 passes. Despite not doing much at all, the Texans win his lone start over Jacksonville by a 20-13 mark. Leinart made his final start in 2012 with the Raiders.
12 Ryan Mallett
During his time in high school, Ryan Mallett was one of the most celebrated football players in the nation. Mallett would end up at Michigan before transferring to Arkansas, and it was still assumed that he would be a good NFL prospect. The Patriots selected him in the third round in the 2011 NFL Draft and used him as a trade piece, sending him to Houston for a late round draft pick.
Mallett’s time in Houston was embarrassing, as he was late for meetings and never produced on the field. Mallett started six games for the Texans, posting a record of 2-4. He would also only post 1,170 passing yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions, putting up a sad 5.3 yards per attempt. The Texans parted ways with Mallett during the 2015 season, and he is currently serving as a backup in Baltimore.
11 Brandon Weeden
One of the biggest head scratchers in the history of the NFL Draft’s first round, the Cleveland Browns selected Brandon Weeden 22nd overall despite already being 28 years old. Weeden would spend just two years with the Browns before being sent away, then he signed with Dallas for the 2014 season. The next year, the Cowboys waived Weeden and he was picked up by the Texans.
Weeden was brought into two games with one start, and it would be a start in which he won. Weeden posted 305 passing yards during his appearances, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Though his time was limited, Weeden certainly didn’t hurt the Texans, and is still a backup for the team in case Brock Osweiler or Tom Savage go down.
10 Brock Osweiler
In terms of overall talent, is Brock Osweiler really one of the worst quarterbacks that the Texans have ever trotted out as a starter? Probably not, but not many players have been more disappointing in recent memory than he has. Osweiler was given huge money by the Texans to be their franchise quarterback after getting chances here and there in Denver, and so far it hasn’t paid off.
After four seasons in Denver, 2016 became Osweiler’s first year as a full-time starter after landing in Houston and the only decent stat he has put up is an 8-6 record. Osweiler threw for 2,957 yards in the regular season with 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Those numbers are unacceptable in today’s passing league, and it came with a cost of $37 million guaranteed over four years.
9 Tom Savage
Since Osweiler was benched during the 2016 season for Tom Savage, it only makes sense to put Savage ahead of him on the list. Savage was a fourth round pick by the Texans in 2014 out of Pitt to serve as a backup, but was then thrust into the starting lineup for two games and three appearances overall. In the 2016 regular season, Savage would wind up posting 461 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
They aren’t great numbers, but Savage was able to manage the game to the point where he split the two starts with a 1-1 record. Osweiler would re-assume the position for the 2016 playoffs, though it’s clear that the front office in Houston knows what type of mistake they have made in signing him for big money.
8 Tony Banks
Those of us that watched football back in the late 1990s and early 2000s know that Tony Banks was the guy that always seemed to be on the cusp of greatness, but never really got there. Banks started out in St. Louis where he put up some decent numbers, but ended up losing his job to Trent Green (and subsequently Kurt Warner). Banks then signed with Baltimore where he made 18 starts, but didn’t start in the Super Bowl as Trent Dilfer got the nod.
After spending a year with the Redskins where he went 8-6 as a starter, the Texans signed Banks to be a backup. Banks stuck around for several season, and would end up making three starts in 14 appearances. Banks posted a 2-1 record in his starts, with 882 overall passing yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. After the 2005 season, Banks would call it a career and was a good choice as a serviceable backup.
7 Case Keenum
Whenever a football player goes undrafted, it seems that the team that ends up signing them is usually the closest to their college. That was the case (no pun intended) for Case Keenum, the former Houston Cougar that was picked up by the Texans in 2012. Keenum didn’t see the field in his rookie season, but would end up making 10 starts over the next two years.
It was tough sledding in the first year as Keenum went 0-8 with 1,760 passing yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. The next year, though, Keenum went 2-0, but the stats weren’t solid with 435 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. Keenum would eventually sign with the Rams, where he has played since the 2015 season. While with the Rams, Keenum has gone 7-7 with more than 3,000 yards.
6 T.J. Yates
T.J. Yates was never really meant to be a starter, which is why he wasn’t drafted until the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Texans out of North Carolina. Yates would still see the field in his rookie season, though, and he ended up starting five games. Yates finished 2-3 in those starts, collecting 949 yards through the air with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He then got the start in the 2011 NFL Playoffs, where he went 1-1 with 343 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Yates would go back to the bench for a couple of seasons before signing with the Falcons for 2014. In 2015, Yates was brought back to Houston and ended up making a pair of starts and four overall appearances. The second stint, albeit short, was still impressive with a 2-0 record, 370 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception. Now, Yates is serving as a backup with the Miami Dolphins.
5 Sage Rosenfels
After spending his rookie season as a preseason darling in Washington, former Iowa State Cyclone Sage Rosenfels was traded to Miami, where he would spend four seasons and making two starts. After the 2005 season, Rosenfels was signed by the Texans to become their backup, and he would make four appearances off of the bench his first year. Rosenfels then spent two more years in Houston and got some opportunities as a starter.
Overall, Rosenfels started 10 games in Houston with a 6-4 record, passing for 3,380 yards, 24 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Unfortunately, Rosenfels’s stint in Houston will always be remembered for one play. That came in 2008 when the Texans blew a 10 point lead against the Colts late in the game as Rosenfels jumped in the air for extra yards, getting spun around and losing the ball in the process. The play was dubbed as “The Rosencopter,” and is still a popular .gif on NFL forums around the web.
4 Ryan Fitzpatrick
There aren’t as many good journeyman quarterbacks in the NFL these days like there used to be back in the 1980s and 1990s. One of those guys that has made the rounds as a starter over the past decade, though, is Ryan Fitzpatrick. The former seventh round pick started out with the Rams, then made his way to Cincinnati, Buffalo and Tennessee before landing with Houston for one season in 2014.
Fitzpatrick had struggled the season before with the Titans, but put up some solid numbers in his lone year in the Lone Star State. Fitzpatrick finished with a 6-6 record over 12 starts, throwing for 2,483 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions and an impressive 8.0 yards per attempt. Though he struggled in 2016, Fitzpatrick had a good 2015 season that the Texans really could have used in the playoffs when they lost 30-0 to Kansas City.
3 Brian Hoyer
We’re not done with the journeymen quarterback as we find one that is currently on his fifth team. Brian Hoyer was an undrafted prospect out of Michigan State that signed to be Tom Brady’s backup in New England for three seasons. Hoyer would spent 2012 with the Steelers and Cardinals before signing with Cleveland for two seasons, posting an impressive 10-6 record with nearly 4,000 yards.
For the 2015 season, the Texans were able to sign Hoyer and he made 11 appearances with nine starts. Hoyer finished with a 5-4 record,and actually put up some very good numbers in the process. Hoyer finished the season with 2,606 yards, 19 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Despite being productive, the Texans opted to go with Brock Osweiler for the 2016 season and Hoyer departed for Chicago.
2 David Carr
Despite putting up some pretty awful numbers during his career after being the top overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, not many people bring up David Carr’s name in terms of being the biggest draft bust. That’s because Carr was thrown into the worst possible situation for a quarterback as he played for an expansion team that got nerfed compared to the Panthers and the Jaguars of the 1990s.
Carr would start 75 games in his Texans career, winning just 22 of them. He would also post 13,391 yards in Houston with 59 touchdowns and 65 interceptions. That’s pretty solid when you consider what Carr had to work with. His offensive line was absolutely terrible, and Carr was sacked 249 times over his 76 total appearances. For those that don’t want to do the math, Carr was sacked an average of 3.28 times per game. For comparison’s sake, Tom Brady has been sacked just 1.76 times per game in his long career.
1 Matt Schaub
When you see who the top quarterback in Texans history is, you really realize that they have a long way to go and haven’t been around that long. Matt Schaub gets the nod at the top spot as he went from backup in Atlanta to starter in Houston during the 2007 season. Schaub would end up starting in at least eight games every season from 2007 to 2013 for 88 starts and 90 overall appearances.
In his starts, Schaub finished with a 46-42 record, throwing for 23,221 yards, 124 touchdowns and 78 interceptions. Schaub was definitely a solid quarterback for much of his time in Houston and then just happened to fall apart, throwing pick sixes left and right. Schaub was dumped unceremoniously after 2013 and has spent time with the Raiders, Ravens and Falcons (again) since leaving.