- Adam Bettcher/Getty
The Houstons Texans had a splashy offseason, highlighted by stealing Brock Osweiler away from the Denver Broncos with a four-year, $72 million contract, with $37 million guaranteed.
Though Osweiler had started just seven games with the Broncos before being benched for Peyton Manning last season, the Texans took a gamble that Osweiler could develop into the starting quarterback they’d been searching for.
After a 31-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the gamble isn’t looking like a smart one as Osweiler has failed to impress over five weeks.
The Texans are 3-2 and still in good position because of the weak AFC South. However, it’s clear Osweiler has a lot to improve upon. Against the Vikings stout defense, Osweiler managed just 184 yards on 19-42 passing (45%) with one touchdown, an interception, and a 56.1 passer rating. For the season, Osweiler is completing just 58% of his passes and has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six) for a meager 70.6 passer rating.
After losing to the Vikings, Osweiler owned his struggles, saying, “Bottom line, if the receivers are not getting the ball, who is the first person you need to look at? It’s me. I need to play better, and I need to find a way, regardless of what the defense is doing, to get those guys the football.”
However, one of Osweiler’s problems has been chemistry with his receivers. He has struggled to get on the same page as DeAndre Hopkins – who had 1,521 receiving yards last year catching passes from Brian Hoyer – and some of his most egregious interceptions have come on plays where he and his receivers seemed to be running different plays.
This attempt to Jaelen Strong seemed to catch Strong by surprise – he wasn’t looking for the ball:
Or this attempt, where his pass appeared several yards short of its target:
In Osweiler’s defense, the Vikings defense has been a nightmare for opponents. Going into Week 5, the Vikings had allowed just three combined touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, and Eli Manning, proving that they’re one of the most ferocious defenses in all of the league.
But Osweiler’s struggles extend past playing one of the NFL’s best defenses. In Week 4 against the Titans, Osweiler threw two interceptions and didn’t muster a scoring drive in the second half. The Texans were saved only by their defense and a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown by rookie Will Fuller. In Week 3 against the Patriots, the Texans offense was shut out.
With two impressive receivers in Hopkins and Fuller, Osweiler has safety nets, but has struggled, particularly when throwing the deep ball. He’s averaging just 5 adjusted yards per attempt and has completed only 6 of 18 passes beyond 21 yards.
Of course, the Texans signed Osweiler for what he could develop into. Osweiler, despite four years learning under Manning, is still like a rookie quarterback – he’s started just 12 games in his career. Yet, through five weeks, he isn’t showing the promise of a quarterback who can live up to his $72 million contract, and the Texans don’t appear closer to finding a solution at QB. It’s worth wondering if this is the Osweiler the Broncos saw when they chose not to match the Texans’ offer.