Brock Osweiler Looks to Take Down Patriots Yet Again
Sometimes, a football player has a bad few weeks. It just becomes difficult to find that groove and to perform at a high level week in, week out.
For Brock Osweiler, that few weeks has turned into a whole season. From throwing a measly 131 yards against his former team, the Denver Broncos, to throwing 3 interceptions against the Chargers, to being benched in Week 15 with a playoff spot in limbo, Osweiler has had his fair share of struggles.
Tom Savage took over and gave more life to the Houston Texans offense. Unfortunately, a concussion sidelined him for the wild-card game versus the Oakland Raiders. Texans faithful were majorly disappointed, and knew they had to put their faith in an Osweiler rebound. And he delivered just that.
He only threw for 168 yards and 1 touchdown, but kept care of the ball and let his defense feast on a rookie QB making his first start. At that time, all Houston wanted was a playoff win. Brock wasn't the main reason for delivering it - but he didn't prevent it from happening.
This week will be a whole different atmosphere, though. Bill O'Brien leads his team into Foxborough to face Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the dynasty that is the New England Patriot football team. Many give the Texans no chance with Brock at the helm. The one thing in his favor: He's done it before.
Last year, Brady and the Pats came to Mile High boasting a 10-0 record. Not many believed Osweiler, filling in for Peyton Manning, could lead the Broncos to a win. With the help of a legendary defense, and a CJ Anderson breakout game, Osweiler led Denver to overcome a two TD-deficit in the 4th quarter and force overtime. Eventually, Anderson would seal the win with a 48-yard TD run in overtime.
In that game, Brock passed for 270 yards, with one TD and one INT. He focused on getting his most talented receiver the ball Emmanuel Sanders, while finding reliable tight end Owen Daniels in crucial situations. Then, letting CJ carry the load, Osweiler took care of the ball and gave his team a chance to win.
Brock didn't necessarily outplay Tom Brady, nor was he expected to. But his team was able to win because of his solid game-managing skills. Last week, he played in a very similar fashion and his team was able to grab an elusive playoff win.
To win this week though, Brock must play perfect. No interceptions, no fumbles. No inopportune sacks, and no missed opportunities in the red zone. Yes, he will need Lamar Miller and Jonathan Grimes to carry the offense, meaning a middle of the pack offensive line will need to show up in not just pass protection, but also run-blocking. DeAndre Hopkins will be asked to get open, CJ Fiedorowicz will be required to be a safety blanket on 3rd-down, and Will Fuller is going to have to bust out a few big plays. If all of these things happen, the offense has a chance of scoring 20-30 points. But that will not be where the game is won.
A Houston Texans defense minus JJ Watt will have to find a way to stay off the field. Jadeveon Clowney must continue his 2016 success, while explosive Whitney Mercilus will have to make big plays. To stop Tom Brady from easily moving down the field through the air, Kareem Jackson and breakout player AJ Bouye must keep Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Malcolm Mitchell in check. A turnover or two would also go a long way in helping the usually-stagnant Texans offense.
No way will the Texans find playing a playoff game in Foxborough easy. But this Texans team has surrounded Osweiler similar to his supporting cast in Denver last year. Osweiler won't have the benefit of playing at home, but that doesn't mean the Texans cannot follow Denver's simple strategy: run, run, and run. If all of these things fall into place, and a little luck arrives, the Texans do have a chance of making it one step closer back to Houston for the big game. The one thing they must rely on: Brock Osweiler plays like a 72 million dollar quarterback for the first time all season.