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Houston’s QB Conundrum Continues With Brock Osweiler

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Brock Osweiler hasn’t lived up to expectations, but how much is he to blame for Houston’s offensive struggles?

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
What should Houston expect from Osweiler as we head into Week Six?
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Full disclosure: I’ve never been on the Brock Osweiler bandwagon. I cringed when the rumors started about Houston’s pursuit of him, and I full-on panicked when I saw what he was getting paid without so much as a meeting, let alone a workout (of course, a lot of that is the result of trying to get deals done in free agency). But I wanted to believe in him so badly, because I want the Texans to win. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

When he threw his first interception on his second pass as a Texan, we joked in BRB emails about how at least it was an improvement over Brian Hoyer (who threw his first interception as a Texan on his first pass). As the season progresses, things seem to be getting uglier and uglier, and that email is getting less funny.

Houston’s struggles this year cannot all be blamed on Osweiler. Let’s talk about a few of the things that make his job harder.

  1. The offensive line is a mess. The line has never been the strongest part of the Texans’ offensive scheme, but it is even worse with the loss of starting center Nick Martin, FA acquisition Jeff Allen adjusting to a new offense, and injuries to Duane Brown and Derek Newton. A QB, especially one in a new system, needs his offensive line to protect him and to allow him the luxury of a threatening run game that spreads the attack beyond passing. The pressure that Osweiler has been under recently is absurd and forcing him to make some dangerous throws. There are very few QBs who could run an offense while running for their lives at the same time.
  2. Bill O’Brien’s offense is admittedly complex. I’m going to say this is probably the biggest factor in Osweiler’s struggles. The play calls are more complicated than the league average, and that probably accounts for his long adjustment period and learning curve. You cannot force a QB into an offense that does not play to his strengths and expect him to succeed immediately. I still think that the responsibility falls on Osweiler as a leader to step up and learn, or to work with the coaching staff to adjust things (obviously part of this, a large part, falls on the coaches as well).
  3. The Texans’ strength of schedule has been daunting. In fact, it has been downright brutal. This applies especially to the defenses that they have faced. Statistically, the Vikings tout the fourth best defensive unit in the league, the Titans are tenth, the Patriots 13th, and the Bears 14th. None of these matchups have been easy on Osweiler. I do credit him for that.

Now we have to address the elements that have set Osweiler up for success. The QB has some of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL at his disposal with the combination of DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Lamar Miller. He also has Braxton Miller and Jaelen Strong as playmaking options. There are several QBs in the league making due with much less talent than what Osweiler has. So what else is going on?

There are a lot of circumstances that keep the Houston quarterback from meeting expectations, but certainly part of the problem is Osweiler himself. He has not looked poised in the pocket or seemed in control of the offense so far this season. In fact, he seems downright uncomfortable. (How did Ron put it? "Like he’s playing with a live scorpion hanging from his [jockstrap].")

So far this year, Osweiler is 109-188 for 1,133 yards, six TDs, seven INTs and a fumble. From what I’ve seen, a lot of his issues stem from poor ball protection and an unnerving lack of ability to read opposing defenses and make adjustments. He seems to be predicting pressure that isn’t there yet and forcing throws without regard for coverage (hence, more turnovers than touchdowns). He has a lot of areas where he fundamentally needs improvement. Perhaps his biggest issue is his failure to get the football to Pro Bowl wideout Hopkins.

I am not demanding perfection from a QB that is five weeks into a new system and has all of 12 starts under his belt. I was hoping to at least see sparks of a (potentially) $72 million talent by now. There are a lot of young quarterbacks currently succeeding in the NFL; by comparison, Osweiler just feels less and less like the answer to Houston’s QB struggles.

I have my doubts about Osweiler for the Texans (clearly). I’m frustrated with his performance and frustrated that the offense as a whole has apparently taken a step back after spending a huge sum of money to make it better. I wanted so badly to believe that Houston’s quarterback troubles were over, I wanted Osweiler to be successful. I can’t give up on him yet, but eventually we have to demand results from such a hefty investment.

Tell me how you feel about it, Texans fans. Do you think Osweiler is the problem?  Do you think the coaching staff is to blame?  Or is it something else going on in Houston? The comments section is yours to debate (respectfully) your different opinions and expectations.

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