HOUSTON -- Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien's plan for Tom Savage to play better on Sunday? Think less.
"[He needs to] play loose, play free [and] let it rip," O'Brien said. "Go out there, have some fun. Don't worry about anything other than making the right reads, getting us into the right play and let it rip."
Savage has spent the last four years learning the Texans' offense, and O’Brien stressed that Savage "knows the game plan."
"He knows the offense," O'Brien said. "He's very, very schooled up on how to run our offense. He's a smart guy."
While Savage would not blame rust for his poor performance in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan said he thinks Savage struggled in part because he needs more reps. Against the Colts' 31st-ranked passing defense, Savage was 19-of-44 for 219 yards and a touchdown -- 138 of those yards and the score came in the fourth quarter.
"He probably is thinking a little too much," Ryan said. "It's basically about just making sure he's getting enough reps. When he's not in there, he's getting the mental reps behind, just going over the film and talking about the different situations. Not just from the practice film but taking the Rams defense, showing him different clips that have happened throughout their season. 'Hey, what would you do if this happened? What would you do if that happened?'
"Kind of take him through the mental part of it before it even comes up. So it's repetition, repetition. That's the best way to handle it."
On the final two drives of the game, Savage looked much more comfortable and was making throws he had not made in the first three quarters, when he was 8-of-26 for 81 yards.
"[The difference was] just getting the ball out of my hands," Savage said. "I even said to Bill [O'Brien], I was like -- they were talking about different plays on the sidelines and stuff, I was like, 'Listen, there's no magic call here. You just got to go out there and make a play.' And I think that's what we did the last two series."
The Texans clearly trust Savage, as he was their starting quarterback all offseason, training camp and to start the season before he was benched in the season opener for Deshaun Watson, whose season has since been ended by a torn ACL. Ryan said he and O'Brien have spent time with Savage focusing on the fact that he "performed very well at a high level" all spring and during training camp as a way to keep his confidence up.
"I'm really confident in myself," Savage said. "I really do believe that I'm a starting quarterback in this league, and I do believe that I can throw the ball really well and accurate, and that's never been an issue for me. I know that I just got to go out there and do it."