Jan. 11, 2017
Brock Osweiler Doesn't Have to Be Great, Just Be Good Enough
On Saturday, the NFL had one of the weakest QB match-ups in league history. The Raiders came in starting their third-string quarterback who would coincidentally be making his first career start in Connor Cook. On the other hand, the Texans started their second option at the ever so important position of QB except, their second option is owed over 75 million big ones over the next four years and was the starter for most of the year until his 55.5 QBR and 15-16 touchdown to interception ratio found him on the bench and being replaced by career back up, Tom Savage. But on Saturday, Brock Osweiler got his second chance as Savage was sidelined with a concussion he suffered in week 17 against the Titans. The matchup seemed favorable for Osweiler given that the Raiders defense ranked in the bottom half of almost every single defensive category and the quarterback he was playing against, had to square off against a top five defense in his first career start. In the end, the Texans actually prevailed and won 27-14. Did Osweiler finally prove himself as the 75 million dollar man Houston was hoping to get when they signed him this past March? Absolutely not. His numbers were pedestrian at best.... but that's all they had to be. Osweiler only threw the ball 25 times during the game, compared to Connor Cook's 45 pass attempts. Throwing the ball less obviously opens the door for the Texans to open up the run game and allows less chances for Osweiler to throw costly interceptions. I went back and looked at every box score from the Texans this year and noticed a correlation between Osweiler's pass attempts and team success. In the 14 games in which Osweiler started and finished the game, the Texans were 4-7 when he threw the ball more than 30 times, when he threw for less than 30 pass attempts, the Texans were a perfect 3-0. In those three games where Osweiler didn't throw more than 30 times, he threw only two interceptions which still isn't spectacular by any means, but when you average throwing one a game and you hold yourself to throwing two in three, that is sign of improvement. Two of those three wins in which Osweiler threw less than 30 times were against divisional opponents that were key wins in locking up their division, the other win was against the Detroit Lions, a much improved playoff team.
The bottom line for the Houston Texans is this: Brock Osweiler is not the savior of your franchise, even though you pay him like he is, but he can certainly be good enough if you put him in the position to succeed by not fully relying on him to control the offense. On Saturday, he was a game manager who only threw for 168 yards and didn't turn the ball over once and in the NFL, these types of QB's can win you Super Bowls when given the right defensive personnel (ex. Trent Dilfer, Mark Rypien, Jeff Hostetler, Joe Flacco, Brad Johnson, and what was left of the walking corpse that was Peyton Manning last year). The Texans ran Lamar Miller 31 times on Saturday and dominated time of possession, that along with utilizing the deep play threat they have with Deandre Hopkins and the defense forcing 3 Oakland turnovers has moved the Texans onto the Divisional round where they face the New England Patriots. Do they have a shot? Hell no, but if they use the offensive formula they so soundly executed against Oakland and the defense can hold the Pats to under 24 points, they certainly won't get embarrassed.
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