Almost a dozen years later, history looks like it may repeat itself for the Houston Texans franchise and the Carr family.
On Apr. 20 of 2002, the Texans in their inaugural NFL season selected QB David Carr out of Fresno State with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The scouting report on David was strong, but his supporting cast while in Houston was not. As a 23-year-old rookie under fifth-year head coach Dom Capers, David was thrown into the fire behind an inexperienced offensive line. That year he was sacked an NFL single season record 76 times.
The Texans never built around him or coached him properly, and after four more seasons of getting hit a lot in the pocket and never throwing more than 16 touchdowns in a season, David moved on to the next phase of his football life — being a career backup. His record as a starter in Houston across five seasons was 23-53.
Fast forward 12 years later, and David is seated next to his brother, QB Derek Carr of Fresno State, on a couch watching the 2014 NFL Draft. It would not be exactly the same but eerily familiar if Houston selects Derek. The parallels are of course that the Carr’s are brothers. They both play quarterback. They both went to college at Fresno State. And if Derek is selected with the first pick of the second round, that would mean both of the brothers will have been selected by the same franchise as the first overall pick on their respective draft day.
The on-field situations would be similar as well. Dom Capers was a relatively inexperienced and unsuccessful head coach (career record of 30-34 then) when the Texans hired him in 2002. Bill O’Brien, the Texans’ current head coach, has zero years of experience under his belt as an NFL bench boss. His greatest coaching accomplishment to date is probably that he adequately filled the shoes of legend Joe Paterno at Penn State following a time when then program became mired in controversy following the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal(s).
He is an offensive minded coach with a background coaching quarterbacks at Georgia Tech, Duke and for the New England Patriots from 2007-11. So it’s fair to say that management in Houston brought in a coach capable of grooming and developing their next franchise quarterback. One rumor circulating is that O’Brien wants to acquire QB Ryan Mallett from the Patriots in a trade, as the two have a relationship from their time together in New England. However, if that does not come to fruition, the Texans are expected to select a quarterback in this year’s draft.
Derek Carr seems like a high possibility to be selected 33rd overall on Friday. Coming off an atrocious 2-14 finish to the regular season last year, the Texans tied for tenth worst in the NFL in sacks surrendered in 2013 with 42. They finished second in the league for the highest number of times their quarterback was hit with 103, behind only the Cleveland Browns (121). In free agency, the Texans did nothing to improve their offensive line, and it’s unlikely they will be able to draft anyone in 2014 who will make an immediate impact in the trenches for them. If anything, whoever lines up at quarterback for Houston in 2014 will be worse off than last year’s quarterback carousel, as veteran blocker and valued receiving target TE Owen Daniels departed for the Baltimore Ravens via free agency. WR Andre Johnson is a year older (33 on Jul. 11) and in danger of starting to lose a step or two, and sophomore WR DeAndre Hopkins is still developing.
It would be nothing but ironic if the same NFL franchise drafts a quarterback from the same bloodline, from the same college, to be their franchise pivot during a (re)building period. Unfortunately, it will be even more ironic and disappointing for Texans fans to experience deja vu all over again in a different decade. When David was with Houston, his rival QBs within the division were Peyton Manning, Mark Brunell and Steve McNair. If brother Derek is chosen today by the Texans, he will have to face Andrew Luck, Jake Locker and very likely, fellow rookie Blake Bortles (chosen 3rd overall) twice each in 2014. It could be a very, very intriguing storyline to track in the coming months.