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The Houston Texans Gambled: It Might Just Pay Off

September 8th, 2002, is a day many Texans fans remember vividly. In 41 years, no team had won their expansion debut, and in front of 69,604 ecstatic fans, The Houston Texans did just that. Not only did they break a feat of over four decades, but who better to do it against then vs. The Dallas Cowboys, beating them 19-10. That was a historic moment for the franchise that will forever be remembered. This offseason the Texans wrote another page in its history books.

On April 27th, 2017, the Texans traded up to draft The National Championship winning Quarterback Deshaun Watson with the 12th pick. While the move didn’t come cheap having to give up their 2017- and 2018 first round picks, a gamble on a game changer is just what the Texans needed. The buzz around town since the drafting of the Clemson phenom has been not a matter of “if”  but “when” would the franchise hand the keys over to the rookie. Well, his time came promptly, and he has been everything the Team expected.

Here are a few successful quarterbacks that when given the opportunity, made immediate impacts.

Russell Wilson

In an off-season in which the  Seahawks spent up on free agent Matt Flynn, signing him to a three-year $19.5 million contract. It was somewhat puzzling to see Seattle draft the undersized 5′ 11”, 203-pound Quarterback with the 75th overall pick. Adding the Wisconsin play caller to a quarterback core that was occupied by Tarvaris Jackson and Newly acquired M. Flynn, made the acquisition seem more for depth and not so much for an immediate impact.

That would change as quickly as minicamp, where he led the 3-man competition, eventually separating himself from the field in his first preseason start vs. the Chiefs, securing the Seahawks starting Quarterback position. The rest is history, throwing for 3.118 yards and 26 touchdowns his rookie year, tying Peyton Manning for most touchdown passes by a rookie. He followed his first year by leading the Seahawks to 2 straight Superbowl appearances, winning one of the two. Wilson has made Seattle a contender every year since taking over and look for more of the same consistency from a team that has the two key ingredients, a smart QB and a top-tier defense to back him up.

Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben was selected 11th by The Steelers in the 2004 NFL Draft. He entered the season second on the depth chart behind starter Tommy Maddox and surpassing passing Charlie Batch, due to a pre-season injury. Roethlisberger made the most of his opportunity taking over in week 2 when Tommy Maddox also suffered an injury. The Ohio native would lead the Steelers to a 13 game winning streak going 14-1 overall in his rookie year and was Named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the year.

He led the Steelers to the AFC Championship where they came up short in a loss to the Patriots 41-27. In his second year, Pittsburgh went 11-5, and Big Ben led the Steelers to win their 5th Super Bowl becoming the youngest QB to win a ring at 23 years old. The two time Superbowl champion has been named to the Pro Bowl 5 times and was the NFL’s co-passing leader in 2014.

Dak Prescott

One of the most intriguing stories of 2016, was the re-emergence of the Dallas Cowboys. A team with such a gigantic, loyal fan base always has expectations, but even the most die-hards In Big D thought the season was a wash when Tony Romo went down in the preseason. Maybe it was destiny for a kid that grew up a fan of the team that drafted him but everything that needed to go his way did. Kellen Moore broke his tibia in the first week of training camp and the Cowboys failed to complete a move for Cleveland’s Josh McCown.

Therefore, moving the  6′ 2” 226 pound QB  from Sulphur, Louisiana, to second on the depth chart. A back injury later and the Rookie play caller was leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the NFC East title. Prescott was efficient, to say the least, throwing 176 pass attempts without an interception to start his career, breaking Tom Brady’s record (162). Things are looking promising once again in BIg D, and the kid at the helm is a big part of it.

Joe Flacco

Entering the 2008 draft, the Scouts were raving about a quarterback coming out of college that had all the intangibles to lead a franchise, and a few teams were lining up to get him. Only thing, it wasn’t Joe Flacco, his name was Matt Ryan. Knowing that his organization would have to trade up to at least second pick to land their man, Owner Steve Bisciotti was letting it be known that he would give up the farm.  That was until he contacted the St.Louis Rams and they wanted two first round picks in 2008 and 2009 as well as the second and third in 2008.

Things changed quickly, and The Ravens ended up trading back and landing Joe Flacco with the 18th pick. Coming into camp he was listed at third on the depth chart, but that quickly changed. With a severe tonsil infection affecting Troy Smith and a season-ending shoulder injury to Kyle Boller in the preseason, Flacco headed into week one as the Starter. That was a blessing in disguise for the Ravens as he went on to lead them to an 11-5 record and was the only rookie to win multiple playoff games in their first season. The Ravens 32-year-old  play caller has been the leader of the offense since and led Baltimore to the Nfl title in 2012.

Honorable mention

Donovan McNabb

In one of the loudest booms heard throughout draft day histories, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Donovan McNabb with the 2nd pick of the 1999 NFL draft sending the Eagles fans into a frenzy of boos.  With the first pick, the Cleveland Browns Selected Tim Couch, and Philadelphia fans perked up and started fantasizing a backfield with Heisman winner Ricky Williams. Instead, Andy Reid drafted his Quarterback of the future in his first year as the Eagles Head Coach. Although McNabb was not named the starter week 1, it was only a matter of time before he would take over for a team that hadn’t won its last 19 road games.

Starting Quarterback Doug Pederson led the team to a 2-7 record throwing seven touchdowns to 9 interceptions.  McNabb took over for the rest of the season, and the team finished 5-11 beating their previous mark of 3-13. The following season, in his first complete year as a starter, McNabb went on to finish second in the MVP voting only trailing Marshall Faulk, in a season where he broke the all-time NFL record at the time for touchdowns in a season with 26. McNabb went on to become 2004 NFC offensive player of the year and  6x Pro bowler along the way. He was a nominee for the 2017 Hall of fame class.

Carson Wentz– Story coming soon to a theatre near you ……

Some players just find triumph under pressure. Pressure is a feeling of persuasion, influence or intimidation. None of those attributes fit the build of the Houston Texans Savior. In both of his appearances on the biggest stage vs. what many called the closest thing to an NFL style defense, Watson shined in the National Title Games. He accounted for 478 yards in a loss the first meeting and bouncing back with another 463 while breaking the hearts of the Roll tide faithful in the closing seconds.

Watson on the next level has carried over the same explosiveness and leadership to the Texans. Since taking over for the disastrous Tom Savage, Watson has been spectacular. The Texans offense has scored over 33 points in the last four games. He blasted the Titans in a divisional game and his first home start leading the Texans to score 57 points in a route. Things are looking extremely promising for the people down in Houston. With the Team losing its star J.J Watt to a season-ending injury, Watson has filled the void on and off the field.

The rookie donated his first game check to some flood victims that worked at the Texans facility. Watson has accounted for 17 total touchdowns and has the Texans looking like a finely tuned machine. The sky is the limit for Watson, and he has the key to the city. A city that is in need of hope and that’s precisely what he has brought. Hope to a franchise that was desperately in need of a quarterback. In Watson’s last meeting with O’Brien before the draft, it was reported that he looked his coach in the eye and said: “The most important piece to a championship team is the Head Coach- QB relationship.” Houston landed a winner; it’s just a matter of time until he leads this team deep into the playoffs.

Sports Writer for The Sports Gambling podcast| Host of Moneyline on ESPN 97.5 Houston/Houston SportsMap. An enthusiast of all things gambling. A sports degenerate: Man of the people: a DREAMER... "Follow me, I'll show you the way."

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