When Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien arrived in Houston, he talked about intelligence, good accuracy and solid leadership being what he wanted in a quarterback.
It's what he hearkened back to when asked why he liked quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency.
"We really liked his intelligence," O'Brien said of the Harvard alumnus. "We liked the fact that he had played a bunch of football. We liked that he played football in a similar system relative to Chan Gailey's system in Buffalo. We liked the fact that he was a guy who we thought would be a good system fit, meaning he was an intelligent guy, a good leader, a guy who was an accurate passer. We felt like what was best for the Houston Texans was to find a good fit at quarterback for our system."
Fitzpatrick began his career in 2005 and spent four seasons with the Buffalo Bills starting in 2009. He's played in 85 games and thrown 106 touchdown passes and 93 interceptions. It's a fairly high rate of interceptions and often came from Fitzpatrick reaching for throws he couldn't make. O'Brien and quarterbacks coach George Godsey have addressed the turnover issue with Fitzpatrick.
"It's about decision-making, not forcing the ball, understanding that for instance you've got a really good back in [Arian] Foster who you can always check it down to or maybe a tight end underneath or a slot receiver," O'Brien said. "We believe in our system, but at the end of the day Ryan, he needs to go out and make good decisions and do what's best for the team."
It could work out. NFL Films producer Greg Cosell in an interview on Nashville radio show Midday 180 thinks very positively about Fitzpatrick's future with the Texans, given O'Brien's ability to take away gray areas.
"It wouldn't surprise me if Fitzpatrick has his best year in the NFL," Cosell said. "We're not suggesting he's a top-five quarterback, but I think he's got some tools. I think he's a smart kid, he's got some movement to him. He throws the ball in a way I don't love. He sort of drops his arm at times. It's not quite sidearm, but at times it can be and he's only 6-2. So there are some limitations there, but I think he could have his best year as a starter under Bill O'Brien."