Top 5 Houston Texans Quarterbacks of All Time

Andrew Harner

Photo
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson throws a pass during the first quarter against the Bills in the 2019 AFC Wild Card playoff game.© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Who Are the Best Texans Quarterbacks of All Time?

A quarterback is one of the first players an NFL expansion team should look for in the draft, and that's exactly what the Texans did after they were awarded the first pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. While they didn't get a long-term cornerstone in David Carr, they did get the first in a series of serviceable quarterbacks who helped Houston become a respected franchise that has made the postseason six times since 2011. Several quarterbacks have played for the Texans, but only four of them have played in more than 20 games. However, there have been a few successful quarterbacks who have left their mark on franchise history.

Selection Criteria for This List

This is a list of the top five quarterbacks in the history of the Texans, as well as two honorable mentions. Also included are some quarterback trivia, franchise records, and a list of all quarterbacks to start at least one game for the team. The criteria used to develop this list include:

  • Single-Season Honors (MVP, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, league leader, etc.)
  • On-Field Success (winning percentage, winning seasons, playoff appearances, etc.)
  • Longevity (years with the Texans, percentage of career with the team, etc.)

Only games played with the Texans are factored into this list, so while Jake Delhomme is a prime candidate for a list about the Panthers, his single appearance with the Texans in 2011 won't make the cut here.

5. Sage Rosenfels

  • Years With the Texans: 200608
  • Regular-Season Record: 64

While a backup quarterback typically isn't the most well-known player on any given NFL team's roster, the position remains one of the most important. The Texans found that to be especially true from 2006 to '08 when Sage Rosenfels provided a steady hand as a backup.

Rosenfels burst onto the scene on Oct. 21, 2007, when he took over for starter Matt Schaub, who had suffered ankle and hip injuries against the Titans. Rosenfels faced a 327 deficit going into the fourth quarter but promptly fired four touchdowns to tie an NFL record for touchdown passes in a quarter. That, however, wasn't enough to overcome another record-breaking performancethe eight field goals from Titans kicker Rob Bironas, who booted a game-winner as time expired in a 3836 Titans victory. Rosenfels ultimately went 41 as a starter that season, including victories in three of the final four games.

In 2008, Rosenfels would again start a handful of games for the injured Schaub. Included was a career-high 294-yard effort in a loss to the Ravens, and a pair of wins against the Browns and the Jaguars late in the season. After the season, Rosenfels was traded to the Vikings for a 2009 draft selection. Over three seasons with Houston, Rosenfels completed 297 of 453 passes for 3,380 yards and 24 touchdowns, but also threw 23 interceptions.

Sage Rosenfels Stats With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yards
TD
Int

2006

4

0

0–0

27

39

69.2

265

3

1

2007

9

5

4–1

154

240

64.2

1684

15

12

2008

6

5

2–3

116

174

66.7

1431

6

10

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick

  • Year With the Texans: 2014
  • Regular-Season Record: 66

After a dismal showing in the 2013 season, the Texans owned the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Unsure how that selection would play out, the franchise signed veteran backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as either a stopgap starter or a mentor to a draft pick. Houston did not draft a quarterback at No. 1 that year, leaving Fitzpatrick as the starter ahead of newly acquired Ryan Mallett and fourth-round draft pick Tom Savage. Fitzpatrick and the Texans surprisingly opened the season with a 31 start, which was already an improvement over their two-win season from 2013. The magic would run out, however, as the team dropped four of its next five games, and Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of Mallett.

Mallett only lasted two weeks, however, as he suffered a season-ending pectoral injury, which allowed Fitzpatrick to return to his role as starter. And he returned in a big way. In his first game backa 4521 victory over the Titans, his former teamFitzpatrick threw for 358 yards and a franchise-record six touchdowns, leaving him just one shy of tying the NFL record. But just two weeks later, Fitzpatrick suffered a season-ending fracture in his leg during a loss to the Colts. He was later traded to the Jets in the offseason. Fitzpatrick's guidance helped the Texans bridge a quick turnaround, as they went from a 214 record in 2013 to making the postseason in 2015.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Stats With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yards
TD
Int

2014

12

12

6–6

197

312

63.1

2483

17

8

3. David Carr

  • Years With the Texans: 200206
  • Regular-Season Record: 2253

When the Texans joined the NFL as an expansion franchise in 2002, every other team in need of a quarterback was likely envious of the new club. Awarded the first pick in that year's NFL draft, Houston made the easy selection of consensus top prospect David Carr, a prolific passer from Fresno State University.

Carr never became a long-term building block for the franchise, but he did spend five seasons with the team, often showing some of the sparkle that made him such a touted prospect. The Texans won the first game in franchise historya 1910 victory over the Cowboys in the "Texas Super Bowl"and Carr fired a 19-yard touchdown strike for his first career completion and later added a 65-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Carr would start every game as a rookie, but he took a beating along the way to a 412 record. He set a dubious NFL record after getting sacked 76 times that season. This limited his chances to display his strong arm, which saw him complete a pass of at least 69 yards in each of his first three seasons. The longest of those throws came on Oct. 13, 2002, when Carr connected with Corey Bradford for a franchise-record passing play of 81 yards against the Bills. Sacks would continue to be a problem for Carr, as he was taken down the most times in the league again in 2004 (49) and 2005 (68, which is the third-most in NFL history).

Throughout his career with the Texans, Carr completed 1,243 of 2,070 passes for 13,391 yards and 59 touchdowns, but he was also sacked 249 times (including six games that saw him sacked at least seven times). He had a respectable 60% completion rate with Houston, and he made 22 straight completions in a game against Buffalo on Nov. 19, 2006, tying a since-broken NFL record.

David Carr Stats With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yards
TD
Int

2002

16

16

4–12

233

444

52.5

2592

9

15

2003

12

11

3–8

167

295

56.6

2013

9

13

2004

16

16

7–9

285

466

61.2

3531

16

14

2005

16

16

2–14

256

423

60.5

2488

14

11

2006

16

16

6–10

302

442

68.3

2767

11

12

Photo
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson points down the field against the Buccaneers during the first quarter of a 2019 matchup.© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. Deshaun Watson

  • Years With the Texans: 2017present
  • Regular-Season Record: 2413
  • Postseason Record: 12
  • Pro Bowl: 201819

It was clear the Texans intended to select a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, and they made a pretty good deal by taking Deshaun Watson with the 12th pick. Prior to the draft, the Texans traded incumbent starter Brock Osweiler to the Browns, and then on draft day made another trade with Cleveland to move up the pecking order and pick Watson.

Watson was named the backup to start the season, but starter Tom Savage struggled so much in the season opener that the Texans put Watson onto the field. Watson would start the next six gamesthrowing multiple touchdowns in five of thembut his season ended when he tore his right ACL during practice. He was on pace to shatter every major Texans rookie passing record, and though he played for only half the season, he did set one, throwing 19 touchdowns before being injured. Watson also began a franchise-record streak of 20 straight games with a touchdown in his second start.

Once Watson recovered from his torn ACL, it didn't seem to hinder his abilities on the field. He has started every game since recovering, except when he was rested during the final week of the 2019 season because the team had already secured a playoff spot. In 2018, he became the second passer in franchise history to eclipse the 4,000-yard plateau for a season, and he was named a Pro Bowl replacement for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was Super Bowl-bound.

After another strong season in 2019, Watson clinched his first career playoff win. The Texans had fallen behind the Bills, 160, in the third quarter, but Watson would run for a touchdown and throw another to help push Houston into the lead. The Texans ultimately won, 2219, in overtime.

So far in his career, Watson has completed 804 of 1,204 passes for 9,716 yards and 71 touchdowns, while tossing just 29 interceptions. He's also scored 14 rushing touchdowns.

Deshaun Watson Stats With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yards
TD
Int

2017

7

6

3–3

126

204

61.8

1699

19

8

2018*

16

16

11–5

345

505

68.3

4165

26

9

2019*

15

15

10–5

333

495

67.3

3852

26

12

1. Matt Schaub

  • Years With the Texans: 200713
  • Regular-Season Record: 4642
  • Postseason Record: 11
  • Pro Bowls: 2009, 2012
  • Awards: Pro Bowl MVP, 2009

By trading for Matt Schaub prior to the 2007 NFL Draft, the Texans closed the door on the franchises first quarterback, David Carr. Schaub's first two seasons were dotted with injuries, but he broke out as a star in 2009 to lead Houston to their first winning season in franchise history. He would later have a significant role in helping the Texans make their first playoff appearance in 2011.

In the franchise record book, Schaub owns most of the major passing records, including the top two marks for single-game yardage and four of the longest touchdown passes in team history. As the firstand so far onlyquarterback to build a combination of longevity and success with the Texans, I believe Schaub is the greatest quarterback in the history of the franchise.

Schaub spent the first three seasons of his career as the backup quarterback for the Falcons, but then the Texans signed him to a six-year, $48 million contract to become their starter. They were largely rewarded for it. After missing five games in each of his first two seasons in Houston, Schaub had a breakout season in 2009, setting numerous franchise records for single-season passing marks and leading the league with 4,770 passing yards. He surpassed 4,000 yards again in 2010, and he was well on his way to making his third straight 4,000-yard season before a Lisfranc injury sidelined him for the remainder of the 2011 season.

That year, he had helped engineer the best start in Texans history, and they still made the playoffs without him. The next season, he was back on the field and as good as ever, leading the team to a 124 record and another postseason appearance. During that season, he nearly set an NFL record by throwing for 527 yards against the Jaguarsthe second-best single-game showing ever. Schaub and the Texans ousted the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season, giving Schaub the only postseason victory of his career.

He struggled in 2013, winning just two games and throwing 14 interceptions while battling injuries, and he was traded to the Raiders in the offseason. His career totals with the Texans saw him complete 1,951 of 3,020 passes for 23,221 yards and 124 touchdownsall franchise records.

Matt Schaub Stats With the Texans

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yards
TD
Int

2007

11

11

4–7

192

289

66.4

2241

9

9

2008

11

11

6–5

251

380

66.1

3043

15

10

2009

16

16

9–7

396

583

67.9

4770

29

15

2010

16

16

6–10

365

574

63.6

4370

24

12

2011

10

10

7–3

178

292

61

2479

15

6

2012

16

16

12–4

350

544

64.3

4008

22

12

2013

10

8

2–6

219

358

61.2

2310

10

14

Photo
Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler throws a pass against the Patriots in a playoff matchup.© David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mentions

While there have not been very many quarterbacks in the brief history of the Texans, there are a couple of others who have made significant contributions to the franchise but fell just outside of the top five.

Brian Hoyer (2015)

Despite being a one-season wonder for the Texans, Brian Hoyer still made a lasting impression. Hoyer came into the 2015 season as the starting quarterback for the team but was replaced by Ryan Mallett toward the end of the season opener. It wasn't until Mallett started to struggle a few games later that Hoyer regained his starting role, and he fired three touchdowns in each of his next two starts. He did enough to help the Texans into the postseason, but he threw four interceptions in a 300 loss to the Chiefs in what would prove to be his final game with Houston. Hoyer completed 224 of 369 passes for 2,606 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Brock Osweiler (2016)

While Brock Osweiler was only partly responsible for the defensive-minded Texans making the 2016 playoffs, his one-year tenure with the franchise is considered a failure. The Texans took a risk and gave Osweiler his first career full-time starting role, along with a four-year, $72 million contract. In his one season, Osweiler didn't produce at the level that was expected, completing 301 of 510 passes for 2,957 yards but only 15 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. He was traded to the Browns after the season in a creative deal that was essentially a salary dump for the Texans.

Houston Texans Quarterback FAQs and Trivia

How many starting quarterbacks have the Texans had?

The Texans have used 16 starting quarterbacks in their 18-year franchise history.

Who is the current starting quarterback for Houston?

Fourth-year veteran Deshaun Watson is the current starting quarterback for the Texans. He is backed up by A.J. McCarron.

Who was the first quarterback for the Texans?

David Carr became the first quarterback for the Texans after he was taken with the No. 1 pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. Carr's backup was veteran Tony Banks.

How many quarterbacks have the Texans drafted?

The Texans have selected eight quarterbacks in the NFL draft.

  • 2002: David Carr (No. 1)
  • 2003: Dave Ragone (No. 88)
  • 2003: Drew Henson (No. 192)
  • 2004: B.J. Symons (No. 248)
  • 2008: Alex Brink (No. 223)
  • 2011: T.J. Yates (No. 152)
  • 2014: Tom Savage (No. 135)
  • 2017: Deshaun Watson (No. 1)

Texans Quarterback Records

Below are prominent records among quarterbacks that are contained in the Texans' franchise record book.

  • Career Yards: 23,221, Matt Schaub (200713)
  • Single-Season Yards: 4,770, Schaub ('09)
  • Single-Game Yards: 527, Schaub (Nov. 18, 2012OT)
  • Career Touchdowns: 124, Schaub (200713)
  • Single-Season Touchdowns: 29, Schaub ('09)
  • Single-Game Touchdowns: 6, Ryan Fitzpatrick (Nov. 30, 2014)
  • Career Completion Percentage: 64.6%, Schaub (200713)
  • Single-Season Completion Percentage: 68.3%, DeShaun Watson ('18)
  • Single-Game Completion Percentage: 85.7%, Schaub (Oct. 26, 2008)
Photo
Texans backup quarterback A.J. McCarron reacts after rushing for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Titans in 2019.© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Texans Starting Quarterback History

Player
From
To
G
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int

David Carr

2002

2006

76

22-53

1243

2070

60

13391

59

65

Dave Ragone

2003

2003

2

0-2

20

40

50

135

0

1

Tony Banks

2003

2005

14

2-1

76

129

58.9

882

6

5

Sage Rosenfels

2006

2008

19

6-4

297

453

65.6

3380

24

23

Matt Schaub

2007

2013

90

46-42

1951

3020

64.6

23221

124

78

Matt Leinart

2011

2011

2

1-0

10

13

76.9

57

1

0

T.J. Yates*

2011

2017

21

4-6

176

320

55

1993

10

10

Case Keenum

2012

2014

10

2-8

182

330

55.2

2195

11

8

Ryan Fitzpatrick

2014

2014

12

6-6

197

312

63.1

2483

17

8

Ryan Mallett

2014

2015

9

2-4

119

222

53.6

1170

5

6

Tom Savage

2014

2017

13

2-7

181

315

57.5

2000

5

7

Brian Hoyer

2015

2015

11

5-4

224

369

60.7

2606

19

7

Brandon Weeden**

2015

2018

3

1-0

26

42

61.9

305

3

0

Brock Osweiler

2016

2016

15

8-6

301

510

59

2957

15

16

Deshaun Watson

2017

2019

38

24-13

804

1204

66.8

9716

71

29

A.J. McCarron

2019

2019

2

0-1

21

37

56.8

225

0

1

Note: All stats are from Pro Football Reference.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
Footballfan55
Footballfan55

Did not realize that Schuab held all those records for the Texans. I do remember watching his breakout season in 2009 though. Glad that he paid off for the Texans.


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